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States use driver’s license points to track moving violations and other serious infractions on your driving record. Points systems vary by state, but most states reserve the right to suspend your driver’s license if you accrue too many points in a short period of time.
Car insurance premiums don’t always directly relate to the points on your license, but insurers still keep track of traffic violations on your record and adjust your premiums accordingly.
What are insurance points?
Car insurance points are different from driver’s license points. An auto insurance company might have its own system for determining how certain incidents, such as an accident or moving violation, might affect your insurance rates. How an insurer determines your insurance points differs from the points a state authority can add to your license.
When renewing your car insurance rate, an insurer will review your driving record and any claims you’ve made. You can generally ask your insurer what’s affecting your premium and how much it’s costing you. If you want to know how many points you have on your driver’s license, you can check with your state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV).
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What’s the difference between driver’s license points and car insurance points?
An official state department or authority typically adds driver’s license points to your license. Violations like reckless driving, driving under the influence (DUI), and exceeding the speed limit can all add points to your driver’s license. Minor offenses might not register the same way as major offenses. Each state has its own system and specific guidelines dictating how many points result in a suspended license, whether drivers can remove points, and more.
Separate from driver’s license points, your car insurance points correspond with how an insurance company evaluates your driving record and claims history to calculate your premium. Each car insurance company has a different system for determining premiums, so you should compare different insurance costs regularly to see if you can find a lower rate elsewhere.
It’s also important to note that the car insurance points that an auto insurer determines don’t result in fines, jail time, and license suspension or revocation. But you can face the aforementioned penalties as a result of receiving too many driver’s license points.
Keep in Mind
You can check with your state DMV to see how your driving history can affect your future ability to get a driver’s license.
How insurance points affect premiums
Insurance companies increase rates to account for different violations on your record. For example, receiving a parking ticket will likely have a much lower point value than a DUI conviction. If you have multiple violations, your insurer will likely view you as a high-risk driver and charge you more for insurance.
You can check with your insurance agent to learn how much your rate may increase because of certain traffic violations or other risk factors. Insurance companies have their own systems for calculating points per incident. Significant offenses, like a speeding ticket, at-fault car accident, or DUI, typically result in increased insurance rates.
Below, you can see how a few different violations affect average car insurance quotes from different companies.
The below rates are estimated rates current as of: Monday, February 26 at 11:00 AM PST.
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.
Driver’s license points by violation
Each state has a different driver’s license points system, so the same violation can hold different weights depending on where you live. For information about how specific violations add to your points total, you can look to your state’s DMV for information about state laws and what counts as a major or minor violation.
In addition to driver’s license points, a major offense can result in fines and a hearing before a judge. You might face a misdemeanor charge for certain traffic tickets or infractions, depending on their severity and the laws where you live. How long points remain on your record also depends on the state.
The following table offers information about how a few states handle some different types of moving violations, including the number of points needed in a certain period to face license suspension.
Upon second accumulation of 6 points or immediate suspension after accumulating 11 or more points
How to remove auto insurance points from your record
It’s typically possible to improve your driving record over time and have your driving privileges reinstated. DMVs in some states allow you to reduce your number of driver’s license points by completing an approved driving course or program. Similarly, some insurers will remove some of your car insurance points if you attend traffic school or take a defensive driving course.
You can check with your state DMV to see what steps you can take to reduce the number of points on your license. And inquire with your insurer to see if you can offset some of your negative driving history with a course or program. Some companies also offer a safe driver incentive plan that can help you reduce your costs over time as well.
If you feel you unjustly received a traffic violation, you can try to contest a traffic ticket in court. If you successfully contest the ticket in court, the state may remove it from your car insurance company records. However, having a clean record is the best way to avoid both driver’s license points and insurance points.
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Insurance points FAQs
If you still have questions about driver’s license and insurance points, the information below should help provide a better understanding of how a points system works.
How long do auto insurance points stay on your record?
How long auto insurance points remain on your record depends on the insurer. If you don’t know how long an existing violation affects your rate with your current insurer, you should compare how different car insurance companies would handle the same violation. Talk to your insurance agent about the average increase and how long it will remain in effect.
How many driver’s license points can you get before losing your license?
Every state has its own laws regarding how many points you can accumulate before you lose your license. In some cases, accumulating a certain number of points in a short time frame might be the deciding factor.
Check with your state for information about important factors that lead to point accumulation, as well as how you might be able to avoid losing your license with the help of defensive driving classes.
Will you receive driver’s license points if an officer catches you texting while driving?
Depending on state or local law, texting while driving could result in driver’s license points. Check with your state DMV for more information about how many points it might add.
Will you receive points on your license if you get a citation for not wearing a seat belt?
Once again, you might have points added to your license based on state law. If you receive a ticket and your state attributes points for not wearing a seat belt, you’ll likely only receive one or two driver’s license points, depending on where you live.
Can you receive driver’s license points for driving without proof of insurance?
State law determines whether driving without proof of insurance adds points to your license. If you receive a ticket, you could see some points added to your license. Check with your state DMV for more information.
Miranda Marquit, MBA, is a freelance financial writer covering various markets and topics since 2006. She has contributed to numerous media outlets, including Forbes, TIME, The Hill, NPR, HuffPost, Yahoo! Money, and more. Her work has been syndicated by MSN Money, Marketwatch, Credit.com, and other publications. She has written about insurance topics for Clearsurance, HealthCare.com, and various other websites. She is also an avid podcaster and co-hosts the Money Talks News podcast. Miranda has a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Syracuse University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.