Any time you get a traffic ticket or are convicted of a traffic-related offense, you may receive points on your license. That makes many drivers wonder: How long do points stay on your license?
California’s driver’s license point system can be confusing, even for seasoned drivers and longtime state residents. Read on to learn all you need to know about what points mean, how you get them, how you can remove them, and how long they remain on your driving record in California.
What Are Driver’s License Points?
Driver’s license points are, essentially, a way for the DMV to monitor your driving behaviors. When you are convicted of engaging in traffic violations, you can receive points on your driving record. Accumulating too many points within a specific period of time can result in the suspension of your driver’s license.
In other words, California’s point system standardizes rules for revoking a driver’s license if someone frequently violates traffic laws.
How Do You Get Driver’s License Points?
Many states have driver’s license point systems, and the rules around how those points work and how you accumulate them vary by state.
In California, if you’re found to be violating a traffic law, you can receive either one point or two points, depending on the type and severity of the violation.
Examples of One-Point Violations
- Disobeying a traffic officer
- Passing illegally
- Following too closely
- Driving too slowly
- Red light camera tickets
- Driving on the sidewalk
- Cell phone use while driving (a form of distracted driving)
Examples of Two-Point Violations
- Driving while your license is suspended or revoked
- Speed Contests
- DUI (such as drinking and driving)
- Driving way too fast (above 100 miles per hour)
- Reckless driving
Consequences for Getting Points on Your License
California uses a system called the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS), which applies to all drivers in the state who are 18 and older. Under NOTS rules, your license can be suspended or revoked if:
- You receive four points within 12 months.
- You receive six points within 24 months.
- You receive eight points within 36 months.
Each time you’re found responsible for committing a traffic violation and receive points on your driving record, you’ll receive a letter from the DMV. If you accumulate enough points to be nearing license suspension, you’ll receive letters of warning, and if you accumulate enough points that the DMV suspends your license, you’ll receive an official Order of Suspension.
The consequence of points that most drivers worry about is license suspension. But getting points on your license can also increase your car insurance premiums significantly.
Another potential consequence is barriers to employment. Some jobs require a clean driving record, so having points on your license can affect your ability to be hired for certain jobs. If your current job requires a clean driving record, you could even be fired for receiving points on your license.
Can You Get Points on Your California License for Violations in Other States?
California’s NOTS system does consider traffic violations from other states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada. If you’re found responsible for a traffic violation in any of those places, it may result in points on your California driver’s license.
Which States Do Not Share Driving Records?
There are some instances, however, where a violation in another state is less likely to result in points on your license in California.
Most states belong to a system called the Driver License Compact (DLC), which was created in the 1960s under the motto, “One Driver, One License, One Record.” This means that member states openly share records of tickets and violations with one another.
The only states that do not belong to the DLC are Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. That means that receiving a ticket or being found guilty of a violation in any of those five states is less likely to result in points on your license back in California. Keep in mind that this is not a guarantee — Massachusetts, for example, is not a member of the DLC, but still shares information with other states through the Registry of Motor Vehicles or RMV.
But there are also states that don’t assess points to drivers for minor violations, like speeding tickets where you’re found to be going less than 15 mph over the speed limit. These states include Colorado, Maryland, Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania. A minor traffic violation in one of these states could still result in points on your California license, but may not.
How Long Do Points Stay on Your License in California?
Luckily, points don’t stay on your license forever.
The majority of single-point offenses will remain on your driving record for a period of 39 months. That means that if you maintain a clean driving record and receive no new points for three years and three months after a single-point violation, it will fall off your license and your driving record will be clean at that time.
More serious violations, including hit-and-runs, DUIs, excessive speeding, reckless driving, etc., remain on your license for much longer: a total of 13 years.
How Long Does a Speeding Ticket Stay on Your Record?
How long a speeding ticket remains on your driving record depends on the severity of the speeding violation.
A minor speeding ticket that results in just one point on your license will typically fall off your record after 39 months (three years and three months).
But more serious speeding tickets, such as those related to speed contests or driving over 100 mph, can stay on your record for up to 13 years.
How Can Traffic School Help With Points?
Traffic school can help mitigate some of the consequences of getting a traffic ticket and a point on your license.
Attending traffic school in California typically means you can mask one point from your driving record. This means the point will not be visible to insurance companies or employers, which can help keep your insurance premiums low and better your odds of getting or keeping a job that requires a clean driving record.
In California, you’ll be eligible to attend traffic school for most one-point violations (it has to be one of the DMV licensed traffic schools). You may be eligible to attend after a more serious traffic violation, but that’s typically at the discretion of the judge overseeing your case.
Does Going to Traffic School Erase a Ticket?
One common question is this: Does traffic school remove a ticket from your record?
Unfortunately, in California, the answer is no. Your ticket will remain on your record, accessible by the DMV. The biggest benefit to traffic school is that it will remove up to one point from your public driving record — the one accessible to auto insurance providers and employers.
Ready to mask a point from a recent ticket? Sign up with Best Online Traffic School.
We’re a California DMV Licensed Online Traffic School, and our course is accepted by all courts in California. We’re also one of the only traffic schools in the state to provide the course in English and Spanish with free audio narration.