In the United States, only nine out of 50 states don’t implement the driver’s license point system. It’s a mechanism that allows both the state motor vehicle departments and insurance companies to examine your risk level as a driver.
The reason gaining points in your driving records isn’t a good thing is because the more points you get, the higher the chances are for your license to be suspended, or worse, you could lose it altogether. If you reach a high enough number of points within a specified timeline, you won’t be able to drive in the U.S. legally.
Insurance companies also use the pointing system to determine insurance premiums and coverage for clients. The more points a client has, the less coverage, but the more expensive their coverage gets.
As someone who regularly traverses the unpredictable roads of the country, we understand that you’d want to have a full understanding of the implications that come with your driver’s license. If you want to make sure you’re ready for the road, you can take 4-hour basic driver improvement courses online.
If you’re still exploring the twist and turns of legally driving in the U.S. or got your first-ever ticket or violation, here are a few facts surrounding the points system in question:
1. Car insurance companies don’t use the same point system as state license issuers
You might think that the points system is a one size fits all kind of thing for both the entity that issued and certified your ability to drive and the auto insurance company your vehicle is under, but that isn’t the case.
The two entities conduct separate assessments regarding your risk level as a driver of a motor vehicle. State DMVs (Department of Motor Vehicles) use a pointing system based on traffic violations you were convicted of doing. DMVs also have a limit within a certain period before your license gets suspended or revoked.
On the other hand, insurance companies don’t pay a lot of attention to DMV-assessed points in your driving records. The reason behind this is they have their own system that they use to decide your rate. The system is based on guidelines set by the ISO (Insurance Services Office).
Insurers apply points based on traffic offenses and their seriousness. An example would be a speeding ticket adding fewer points compared to reckless driving convictions.
More points on the insurer’s systems mean higher insurance rates for you to pay. Hitting a predetermined ceiling would induce a penalty.
2. Only nine states don’t use the pointing system
We’ve mentioned earlier that only less than ten U.S. states don’t use the points system we’re talking about. But that doesn’t mean these states don’t keep track of how drivers behave on the road.
They base your reliability on the road based on driving records without a pointing system. That’s where they base their decision on whether you can continue driving or not.
Here’s a list of the states that don’t use the pointing system:
- Rhode Island
3. Not all traffic violations equal to points added
Generally, violations wherein your vehicle isn’t under motion, and other types of minor traffic offenses don’t equate to additional points. Parking tickets and fix-it tickets won’t give you additional points, but the catch if you still have to pay the fine stated in your ticket.
Some states are strict about serious traffic offenses such as DUI (driving under the influence). A conviction can lead to getting your license automatically suspended. This means you won’t accumulate points, but your auto insurer will increase your rates.
4. Using your phone while driving means more points
Almost all 50 U.S. states ban texting in the middle of driving, but not all of those states consider texting while driving a form of moving violation. If you got a ticket for a texting violation, you’d have additional points on your driving records if the state considers the act a moving violation. It may also cause your insurer to increase your premiums.
5. Points accumulate
In most states implementing the points system, points in your driving record will stay for at least two to three years for minor offenses, but there are exceptions. In states such as Michigan and Virginia, accumulated points stay on record for two years after conviction.
Points accumulated by drivers in California remain for three years, but serious violations such as DUI and hit-and-run can stay for up to 10 years on record. In Nevada, points stay for a year, but DUI offenses and others along with the line result in suspension and not points.