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How points on your driving record affect car insurance

How much your premium spikes depends on the violation and insurance company.

More points on your driving record probably means higher insurance rates for several years. However, most insurance companies factor in the type of violation to determine the points attributed to your insurance policy.

How do points work on your driving record?

Many states have implemented a points system as another way for the state and insurance companies to assess your driving habits. You receive points after a traffic violation, and each violation has a set number of points based on your state and the severity of the violation.

For example, in California, a speeding ticket or an at-fault accident would add one point to your record. Reckless driving usually comes with two points. But a DUI will add more points to your record than speeding.

Once you receive these, the points typically stay on your record for three to five years. DUIs can stay on record for up to 10 years in some states. If you reach a certain number of points, you may receive additional fines or legal consequences like a license suspension.

How do points affect car insurance?

The effect of points on your driving record varies based on the insurance company, type of violation and the state. Many providers weigh the type of violation more heavily than how many points its worth. Common examples include:

  • Speeding — Expect your car insurance to increase about 20% per year for several years.
  • Running a red light — Rates may increase by $300 per year.
  • At-fault car accident — These could spike premiums by 20% to 40% more, or up to 90% in California.
  • License suspensions — For moderate offenses that lead to suspension, expect an increase ranging from 10% to 50%.
  • Driving under the influence — You should see hefty insurance surcharges around 90% more than you paid before.

However, states like North Carolina require insurance companes to raise your premium based on the state’s points system.

How many points will I get on my record for a ticket?

Each state issues different points for different traffic violations. However, more dangerous offenses receive the most points or even automatic suspensions.

Traffic violationPoints Received
Distracted driving1–3
Aggressive driving6
At-fault accidents (in certain states)1 or 2
Reckless driving4
Speeding2–6, depending on exact speed
Running a red light or stop sign3
Accident caused by unsecured cargo2
Child safety restraint violation1–2
Illegally passing a school bus6
Drag racingAutomatic suspension or fines
Possessing an open container of alcohol2
Driving under the influenceAutomatic suspension, fine or jail

How many points does it take to get a suspended license?

The number of points until suspension varies based on your state, but it may range from 10 to 15 points over one to two years.

For example, Georgia suspends your license if you accumulate 15 points within 24 months. However, California suspends your license if you receive four points in one year, six points in two years or eight points in three years.

After a license suspension, your insurance premium may skyrocket because you’re considered a higher driving risk. In addition, you may need a specialized policy to file an SR-22 document, which proves your insurance coverage.

Which states don’t have the points system?

A few states haven’t implemented a points system and may issue consequences for illegal driving behavior instead. These states include:

  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

How do I check how many points are on my driving record?

To check for points against your license, you can generally go through your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

  1. Visit your DMV’s website or call customer service about your record.
  2. Look for an option to check your driver’s license or record online.
  3. Click the link and follow any instructions, such as filling in your name or license number. After submitting, you should be able to view your record.
  4. If you don’t see an option online, you may have to submit a request by mail or in person.

How do I reduce my points to save on car insurance?

In many states, you can reduce your points to avoid a suspension by completing a point reduction course, sometimes within a certain time frame, to receive credit. The requirements and limitations for taking this course vary by state.

But as an example, New York stipulates that point reduction applies only to points received in the last 18 months and cannot be applied to current suspensions or nullify court hearings.

After completing the course, you can get up to four points taken off your record, which may help you avoid a suspension. However, the violation stays on your record and may still affect your insurance premium.

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Bottom line

Points on your license affect insurance because they’re a direct reflection of your driving habits. However, insurance companies may raise your premium based on the type of violation and how likely future violations may cause an accident.

But even with a flawed record, you can get quotes from several providers for the best rates and coverage possible.

Frequently asked questions about insurance points

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