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States use various methods to help enforce their traffic safety laws. All states use some variation of a point system as part of this effort. Depending on the state, individuals may begin with a certain number of points, have points deducted for traffic violations, or they may have points added for traffic violations. Points are assigned for only moving violations (violations that occur when the car is being driven); points are not assigned for parking, licensing, or other nonmoving violations. If a driver accumulates (or loses) a certain number of points within a prescribed amount of time, that driver’s driving privileges may be suspended or revoked.

These point systems identify persistent or repeat violators. Several violations may indicate that a state should take action against the driver. Point systems may not be the only basis for suspending or revoking driver licenses. For example, several speeding violations in an 18-month period, or a single drunk driving violation, could result in the state’s mandatory revocation of a license, regardless of the driver’s number of points. While a conviction is required for the points to go on a record, the conviction date is not used to determine the point total. Points are reduced by not having any further violations over a period of time. The point systems differ in important ways from state to state. People can contact their state’s department of motor vehicles for more details.

Inside Points