How Do Points Accumulate on My California Driver’s License?

In California, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can assess points to your driver’s license if you are convicted of a traffic crime or involved in a car accident. Although the penalties issued can seem small – some offenses result in a 1-point assessment – the consequences can be significant.

Points for Accidents

If you caused an accident, that information is reported to the DMV, and the agency will place a point on your license for the collision.

Points for Traffic Offenses

If the police pull you over for breaking a traffic law, they might issue a citation. When you sign the ticket, you agree to either appear in court or pay the fine to resolve the matter. If you take your case to court and are convicted of the offense, the DMV will place the required number of points on your license. The same is true if you pay the fine. Sending in payment for a citation is akin to admitting guilt.

The amount of points assessed depends on the violation.

You could be facing 1 point for traffic offenses that include, but are not limited to:

  1. Evading a police officer
  2. Driving your car in a bike lane
  3. Crossing a divided highway
  4. Following the vehicle in front of you too closely
  5. Driving too far below the speed limit

The DMV will issue 2 points for various offenses, including:

  1. Driving with a suspended or revoked license
  2. Driving over 100 mph
  3. Transporting explosives
  4. Leaving the scene of an accident that caused injury or property damage

Cell Phone Use While Driving and Point Accumulation

Although using a cell phone while driving is an offense under California law, a person does not get points placed on their driver’s license for violating this statute. However, lawmakers are trying to change that. The state Senate recently passed a bill that would make texting or holding a phone while driving a negligent operator offense. The full Assembly still needs to review the measurer before Governor Gavin Newsom can consider signing it into law.

Out-of-State Traffic Violations and Collisions

The point assessment applies even if you committed a traffic offense in another state. The DMV evaluates the violation to determine whether or not it would qualify for a negligent driver point in California.

Some out-of-state car accidents may be reported to the California DMV by an outside agency. If reports show that you were at-fault for the accident, the DMV will assign points. However, if responsibility cannot be determined, your driving record will not be affected.

Consequences for Point Accumulation

Accumulating a certain number of points within a specific time could result in your driver’s license being suspended or revoked. Under the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS), the DMV monitors your record to determine whether to impose sanctions on your driving privileges. It can take different types of actions depending on the number of points you’ve accumulated.

You will receive a warning letter if you have:

  1. 2 points within 12 months
  2. 4 points within 24 months
  3. 6 points within 36 months

The DMV will send you a Notice of Intent to Suspend if you’ve accumulated:

  1. 3 points within 12 months
  2. 5 points within 24 months
  3. 7 points within 36 months

Your driving privileges will be suspended for 6 months if you have:

  1. 4 points within 12 months
  2. 6 points within 24 months
  3. 8 points within 36 months

Negligent Operator Hearing

If you receive notice that the DMV will be suspending your license, you have the option of attending a negligent operator hearing where you can challenge the decision. During the proceedings, you can present evidence to show the agency that your circumstances and record do not warrant classification as a negligent operator.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP

Losing your driving privileges can have a profound impact on your life, as it could make it difficult to run errands, get to work, or go to school. If you are caught operating a vehicle while your driver’s license is suspended, the DMV can extend the penalty for 6 additional months.

If you’ve received a citation for a traffic offense, before paying the fine, speak with one of our skilled attorneys. We have over 50 years of experience and will help you fight the ticket to prevent points from accumulating on your driving record.

Talk with one of our skilled attorneys today by calling us at (800) 462-7160 or contacting us online.