How the DMV Point System works & what to do
On this page you will find:-
- How the California DMV point system works
- How you mask (hide) points from your license
- How to save your license from suspension
- How long points stay on your driver record
- How long does a speeding ticket stay on your record?
- How to check how many points you have on your license
- How many points to suspend license in CA
- and much more ...
(Click to expand each section:-)
California DMV Point System
& Negligent Operator
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has a point system to identify and take action against high-risk drivers. Points are added to your DMV driver’s record for various traffic violations.
How many points before your license is suspended?
If you get a total of:-
- 4 points in one year
- 6 points in two years
- or 8 points in three years
– then the California DMV will want to suspend your license for 6 months for being a negligent operator – a driver with too many points.
The DMV considers driving a privilege and not a right and if you accumulate too many DMV points by way of traffic tickets, DUIs, a Hit and Run, Exhibition of Speeding, Driving on a Suspended License, Driving over 100 mph, etc. or Accidents that you cause, the DMV will seek to suspend your license for 6 months for being a negligent driver.
Note: Your Point Count is calculated based on the date of the violation (the date of your ticket), not the date of the conviction.
See also NOTS: penalties for too many points
Violations and Points on your license
Visit our Points page to find your particular violation and how many points it puts on your driver’s license.
See also How many points do I have on my license? below.
A moving violation is any violation of the law committed by the driver of a car while it is in motion. Moving violations put DMV points on your license.
Parking tickets, fix-it tickets concerning the car equipment like broken lights, tinted windows or no front plate do NOT put points on your license. Paperwork violations relating to insurance or registration do NOT put points on your license.
Cell phone and Texting violations and DMV points
A second cell phone or texting violation within 3 years will now put a DMV point on your record.
Talking or Texting on a cell phone – VC 23123 & VC 23123.5 – starting July 1, 2021, if you get a cell phone ticket (VC 23123) or a texting ticket (VC 23123.5) for the second time in 36 months (3 years) you will now get a DMV point on your record. Under this law it states you have to have a prior conviction for the same offense within 36 months. This means if you have a cell phone ticket (VC 23123) on your record and then you get another cell phone ticket in the next 36 months you are now facing a DMV point going on your record and if you have a texting violation (VC 23123.5) on your record you cannot get another texting ticket in the next 36 months or else you are facing a DMV point going on your record.
A first time cell phone or texting ticket will not put a DMV point on your record but if you do it again within 3 years you are now facing a DMV point for doing it a second time under this law. Second time violations will put the DMV point on your record.
Under California Law, you basically cannot touch your phone at all while driving. If a police officer sees you with a phone in your hand either talking into it or texting and the phone is in your hand even for just a second or two, expect to get a ticket even if you are waiting at a red light and your car is not moving. Please note by paying a ticket you are basically pleading guilty to your ticket and putting it on your record so keep in mind that if you pay off a cell phone or texting ticket you are now putting a conviction on your record. This means if you get another ticket for the exact same violation a cell phone or texting ticket in the next 3 years you are now looking at a DMV point going on your record which can hurt your insurance rates and bring you closer to 4 DMV points.
Here is the link to the new cell phone and texting law that makes a second violation a DMV point:-
VC 23123 is the law that forbids talking with a phone in your hand and VC 23123.5 forbids texting while driving
If a police officer sees a phone in your hand even for a brief second expect to get a ticket because California law forbids having your phone in your hand at all with very limited exceptions. Please see the Law for cell phone and texting violations below.
VC 23123 states:
VC 23123 (a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.
(b) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a base fine of twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense and fifty dollars ($50) for each subsequent offense.
(c) This section does not apply to a person using a wireless telephone for emergency purposes, including, but not limited to, an emergency call to a law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department, or other emergency services agency or entity.
(d) This section does not apply to an emergency services professional using a wireless telephone while operating an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in Section 165, in the course and scope of his or her duties.
(e) This section does not apply to a person driving a schoolbus or transit vehicle that is subject to Section 23125.
(f) This section does not apply to a person while driving a motor vehicle on private property.
(g) This section shall become operative on July 1, 2011.
VC 23123.5 states:
VC 23123.5 (a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device unless the wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation, and it is used in that manner while driving.
Examples of DMV points:
- Running a red light
- Making an unsafe lane change
- Having an at-fault accident.
The California DMV will put one point on your driver’s license record if they find out about an out-of-state traffic ticket you received.
See our list of California Vehicle Code (VC) violations for the number of points each violation puts on your license.
How many points is a DUI in California?
- A DUI or Wet Reckless on your DMV driver’s record in California results in 2 points on your license.
- You cannot go to traffic school for a DUI in California.
Read more on our sister website https://duilacounty.com/dui-points-on-your-license-in-california/.
Do I still get points if I pay my fine?
Please keep in mind, if you get a traffic ticket for a moving violation such as speeding or running a red light (any violation committed while your car is in motion), and if you decide just to pay this ticket off:-
- You will be putting at least one DMV point on your record
- which may result in higher insurance rates
- and can possibly hurt you when applying for a job that involves driving.
Also, keep in mind, 4 DMV points acquired in a 12-month period will result in the DMV sending you a letter informing you that your license will be suspended for 6 months for acquiring too many DMV points.
WARNING About Paying Off A Ticket
– Many times people when they get a traffic ticket just pay it off. If you get a ticket for a moving violation and you just pay it off, you are essentially pleading guilty to the ticket and putting at least one DMV point on your record.
We recommend you do everything you can to avoid DMV points going on your record so your insurance rates do not increase. We recommend you think twice about paying the court for tickets involving moving violations and instead consider fighting the ticket or doing traffic school, if you are eligible.
How your point total is calculated
- You must be convicted of the traffic violation before points are added to your driving record. By simply paying your ticket for a moving violation, you are essentially pleading guilty to the ticket and putting at least one DMV point on your record.
- Your point total is calculated based on the date of the violation (the date of your ticket), not the date of the conviction.
- 12-month total
- The points for violations that all occurred within the last 12 months are added to calculate your point total for the current 12-month period.
- Once 12 months have passed from the violation date, the points for that violation no longer count toward your current 12-month total. However, the points remain on your driving record as long as the conviction remains on your record.
- 24-month total
- The points for violations that all occurred within the last 24 months are added to calculate your point total for the current 24-month period.
- Once 24 months have passed from the violation date, the points for those violations no longer count toward your current 24-month total. However, the points remain on your driving record as long as the conviction remains on your record.
- 36-month total
- The points for violations that all occurred within the last 36 months are added to calculate your point total for the current 36-month period.
- Once 36 months have passed from the violation date, the points for those violations no longer count toward your current 36-month total. However, the points remain on your driving record as long as the conviction remains on your record.
- If the points are publicly visible (not masked), they may be used by your insurance company to increase your premiums. See below for more information on hiding or masking points by attending Traffic school.
If you were not the driver
If you claim that someone else committed a violation on your record, you can request a DMV hearing.
If you are convicted of a traffic violation in another state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico or Canada, the California DMV will put one point on your driver’s license record if they find out about an out-of-state traffic ticket you received.
Too many points – get a DMV Hearing to save your license
You must request a DMV Hearing immediately for having too many points (4 in one year) – A Negligent Operator DMV Hearing is oftentimes the only way to save your license – so get a Hearing!
Your DMV driving record
The DMV keeps a record of all traffic convictions and accidents. Depending on the type of traffic ticket, you can get from one to two points for a traffic ticket, and one point for an accident. (A traffic accident in which the driver is deemed by the DMV to be responsible shall be given a value of one point.)
How many points do I have on my license?
There are two ways you can check your driving points:-
Method 1: Check the points for your violation.
Look up how many points a particular violation earns here Points on your license.
Method 2: Check the points on your driver record.
With this second method, you can check the number of points on your driver record with the DMV, in one of three ways – in person, online or by mail.
(Method 2.1) In person: you can make a request for your driver record in person at your local DMV office. There is a $5 fee. Your local DMV office accepts cash.
(Method 2.2) Online: You can check online by registering as a certified online user with the California DMV and making a DMV Driver Record Request. There is a $2 fee, and as stated on that page, “Please ensure that your printer is ready and able to print your Driver Record printout as you will only have one opportunity to print your record after your fee is paid.”
For more information about becoming a certified user with the DMV in order to request your DMV Driver Record online, see DMV How to request information and also see the FAQ half-way down this page on online driver record request.
(Method 2.3) By mail: To request an official copy of your driver record by mail, fill out form INF1125 (PDF) and mail it to the DMV Headquarters address on the form along with a check or money order for the $5 fee.
The DMV will let you know your point totals for the last 3 years.
THE DMV AND ARREST WARRANTS – Please be aware that the DMV does not notify you if you have a warrant out for your arrest. Many times people go to the DMV to get their license reinstated and think that everything is now clear once they leave the DMV with a valid license. However there can still be a warrant out for your arrest or a bench warrant even if you get your license reinstated. Only later by way of a background check or a police officer do people learn there is an active warrant out for their arrest or a bench warrant. In court there can be an arrest warrant or a bench warrant out for your arrest due to a failure to appear in court for a misdemeanor or felony, and it will NOT show up on your DMV Driver’s License Record. This is because the DMV and the Courts have different computer systems. If you feel there might be a warrant out for your arrest please call us at (310) 285-1516 for help.
- See Los Angeles County Warrant Search for how to check whether you have a warrant in Los Angeles County.
- See Orange County Warrant Search page for how to check whether you have a warrant in Orange County.
How long do points stay on your driving record?
The length of time a traffic ticket conviction stays on your DMV license record depends on the severity of the offense – it can vary from 3 years to 7 years all the way up to 13 years:- the general rule is a DMV point can affect you for 3 years. After 3 years the DMV point cannot be used against you for being a Negligent Operator.
- A one-point traffic ticket such as a speeding ticket or stop sign ticket will remain on your DMV record for 3 years – this means the DMV can use this point against you for 3 years in a negligent operator action – after 3 years and 3 months you can request the DMV to purge (remove) the violation and point from your DMV record.
- Some two-point traffic ticket violations such as a VC 14601.1 driving on a suspended license violation or VC 22348(b) speeding over 100 mph violation or VC 23109 exhibition of speeding will remain on your DMV record for 7 years – after 7 years you can make a request to the DMV to purge (remove) this violation from your record.
- Two-point traffic ticket violations such as a DUI – VC 23152(a) or (b) or a VC 14601.2, VC 14601.4 or VC 14601.5 driving on a suspended license conviction will remain on your DMV record for 13 years – after 13 years you can make a request to the DMV to purge (remove) this violation from your record.
How long does a speeding ticket stay on your record?
If it is a one-point ticket, it will stay on your DMV driver record for 3 years. This means the DMV can use this point against you for 3 years in a negligent operator action – after 3 years and 3 months you can request the DMV to purge (remove) the violation and point from your DMV record.
If it is a two-point violation such as VC 22348(b) speeding over 100 mph violation or VC 23109 exhibition of speeding, the points will stay on your DMV record for 7 years – after 7 years you can make a request to the DMV to purge (remove) this violation from your record.
View the following table to see how many points your speeding ticket earned:-
Point Count for Speeding TicketsNavigation: Press the up and down arrows in the column headings to re-sort the table.
Enter a CVC code into the search box, or a search term e.g. 70 ↓
|CVC 22348, 22348a, 22348c
|Speed/use of designated lanes
|Speed over 100 MPH
|CVC 22349, 22349.5
|CVC 22350, 22351, 22352, 22352a, 22352b
|Basic/prima facie speed limit
|CVC 22354, 22355
|Exceeding posted/freeway speed limit
|CVC 22356, 22356b
|Maximum speed 70 mph
|CVC 22357, 22358.4
|Speed in excess of local limits
|CVC 22359, 22360, 22361
|Speed in excess of local limits
|Restricted speed/weather conditions
|CVC 22400, 22400a, 22400b
|Driving too slow
|CVC 22405, 22405a
|CVC 22406, 22407
|Maximum designated vehicle speed
|CVC 22409, 22410
|Speed limit on grades
|CVC 23109, 23109b, 23109d
|Speed contest/aiding or abetting
|CVC 23109a, 23109c
|Speed contest /exhibition of speed
4 points and your license is suspended
Your driving privilege will be suspended by the California DMV and an Order of Probation/Suspension will be sent to you from the California DMV under the following conditions:
|You get 4 points
|Within 12 months
|You get 6 points
|Within 24 months
|You get 8 points
|Within 36 months
Note: Your Point Count is calculated based on the date of the violation (the date of your ticket), not the date of the conviction.
Why you should fight your traffic ticket
Most people when they get a traffic ticket usually just pay it off. The problems with this approach are that:-
- It automatically puts at least one point on your driver’s license record
- 4 or more points can result in your license being suspended.
- And it will probably increase your insurance rates.
Read more about why you should fight your traffic ticket.
Traffic School: Mask or hide points on your license
We recommend that you do everything you can to fight your traffic ticket to mask or hide points from your DMV driver’s license record. Keep in mind you are allowed to do traffic school once every 18 months and this will mask or hide the point and ticket from your DMV record if done successfully. The 18-month eligibility period is determined from violation date to violation date and not from when you attended traffic school.
Are you eligible for Traffic School?
Generally, you can go to traffic school if:-
- You have a valid driver’s license,
- The offense occurred while driving a non-commercial vehicle, and
- Your ticket is for an infraction that is a moving violation.
Note: The ticket must be for an infraction, not a misdemeanor. A moving violation is any violation of the law committed by the driver of a car while it is in motion. Moving violations put DMV points on your license.
What does masking points on your DMV Driver’s record mean?
Masking means the points are hidden from the public and from your insurance company.
How it works
You must be eligible for traffic school and hold a non-commercial driver’s license; then if you successfully complete a California DMV-approved Traffic School program, the Court will notify the California DMV of a conviction that will be kept confidential:-
- It will not show on your public record, and the point will not be assessed to your DMV record.
- Your insurance company will not be notified of masked points.
See California legislature regarding masking of points. When your conviction is kept confidential, it means it shall not be disclosed to any person, except a court. If you get another traffic ticket within 18 months, the judge will be able to see your previous attendance at traffic school and your masked points and conviction.
Drivers are only permitted to go to traffic school once in 18 months. If you get a traffic ticket but have already attended traffic school within the last 18 months, you will get points on your license and your insurance company will be notified.
If you hold a commercial driver’s license and you were not driving a commercial vehicle when you got your traffic ticket, then if you successfully complete a California DMV-approved Traffic School program, the record of conviction will not be held confidential but the conviction will not add a point count to your DMV record.
Please call us at (310) 285-1516 for a free legal consultation with a Los Angeles Traffic Ticket Attorney, to discuss hiding points on your license record.
4 points – Get a Restricted License
If you get four or more points in one year call us immediately at (310) 285-1516 because we can help you get a restricted license from the DMV at a DMV Hearing if they are trying to suspend your license for too many points (negligent operator).
Keep in mind if you get four points in a year, you only have a short period of time to request a DMV Hearing to try to keep your license from being suspended.
We can help keep the points masked on your license
We can help you fight your traffic ticket to keep the points masked on your license (see above for an explanation) and save your driver's license from suspension. Call to speak to a Los Angeles Traffic Attorney for a free legal consultation regarding your case CALL (310) 285-1516.
- California Vehicle Code (VC) violations for the number of points each violation puts on your driver's license.
- About DMV Hearings - your entitlements, issues and mitigating circumstances.
- NOTS: What is NOTS and the Consequences of too many points
- For info on Negligent Operators, NOTS Hearings, and a TO DO list for Negligent Operators, see our Negligent Operator page.