Before we jump into our discussion of how long points stay on your license, let’s establish what driver’s license points actually are. You receive these points when you are caught engaging in traffic violations. When you accumulate too many points in a particular span of time on your driving record, your license will be suspended or taken away. They effectively allow your state’s DMV to monitor your driving behaviors.
How Do You Get Driver’s License Points?
The rules surrounding points, such as how many points will cause you to have your license suspended/taken away, vary by state. In California, you’ll receive one or two points for violations that are your responsibility.
Examples of One Point Violations
- Disobeying a traffic officer
- Passing illegally
- Following too closely
- Driving too slowly
- 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
Additionally, the California DMV can suspend (for six months) or revoke your license if you receive 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months, or 8 points in 36 months. This system is called The Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS). NOTS affects California drivers eighteen years of age and older.
The California DMV NOTS also considers out of state tickets and ones from the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada. The DMV will then determine if the same violation if committed in California, would count under the NOTS.
Every time you have points added to your record, you’ll receive a letter from the DMV; when you’re nearing suspension, the DMV will send letters of warning, and an official Order of Suspension is sent out when they do revoke your license. Not only do points affect your license, but having points on your driving record can also increase your car insurance bill by quite a bit.
They may also influence an employer’s hiring decisions. Clearly, accumulating points on your record is something to carefully avoid!
Luckily, points for a given offense generally expire after a defined period of time, so you’re definitely not stuck with them for life. The rest of this article will explain how long these points stay on your license in the state of California.
How Long Do Points Stay On Your License in CA?
For the majority of less serious, one-point driving offenses—including making illegal turns, driving over the speed limit, and the like—the points received will remain on your driver’s license for a period of 39 months (or 3 years and 3 months). In California, you are eligible to go to traffic school for most one-point convictions. The most significant benefit of going to traffic school is that the point will not show up on your public driving record, so your insurance company or your employer will not know about it. However, you must use a DMV licensed traffic school.
But if the points were awarded for more severe offenses, including hit-and-runs, DUIs, etc., they will remain on your record for much longer—a total of 13 years.