How the DMV Point System works & what to do
On this page, you will learn:-
- 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 license
- How to check how many points are on your license
- Why we recommend you fight your traffic ticket
- How we can help you get a restricted license if you have 4 points or more in one year
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.
Point Count for California Vehicle Code (VC) Violations
|Section||Violation||Points on your license|
|VC 14601,14601a,14601b,14601.1- 14601.4||Driving while suspended/revoked||Two points|
|VC 14601.5||Driving, suspended/revoked for refusing test||One point|
|VC 14603||Violation of license restrictions||One point|
& 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.
If you get pulled over by a police officer and he writes you a traffic ticket for a moving violation, you will now face at least one point being put on your driver's license record. See examples of DMV points 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.
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:
(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:
(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.
- 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.
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.
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
Learn more about DMV Hearings - your entitlements, issues and mitigating circumstances.
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?
Check your driving points
There are 3 methods to check how many points you have on your California driver's license - in person, online or by mail.
(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.
(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 FAQ regarding DMV Online Service Accounts.
(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.
How long does a point stay on my license?
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 .
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:
|Point Count||Time Period|
|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.
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.
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.
We can help keep the points masked on your license
- California Vehicle Code (VC) violations for the number of points each violation puts on your driver's license.