California Driver’s License Points


Many states use a point system to keep track of safe versus higher risk drivers. Each state’s system is a little bit different, and it’s important for California drivers to understand how their state’s method works. Without knowing when points are assigned and how long they last, drivers may be suddenly surprised by a letter in the mail telling them they can’t drive for the next 6 months. The serious consequences of California driver’s license points underscore the importance of driving safely and fighting tickets with a San Diego driver’s license attorney.

When Do I Receive Points?

Under California law, drivers are assigned points to their license when they receive tickets for moving violations. Moving violations are illegal maneuvers performed when the car is in motion, such as speeding, reckless driving, and running stop signs or red lights. Tickets for other vehicle offenses like illegal vehicle modifications or broken lights aren’t moving violations and don’t put points on a license. Also, talking on a cell phone does not add a license point.

How Long Do Points Last?

Points can stay on your record for a significant period of time. The most common moving violations that give you 1 point stay on your license for 3 years. However, if you receive points for a more serious violation like a DUI or a hit and run, the points last for 10 years.

Points automatically drop off your license after the statutory time period.

Paying A Ticket Accepts The Points

Many people pay moving violation tickets instead of fighting them. If you do this, you are pleading guilty or no contest to the offense and you accept the statutory punishment. There is no way to merely pay the ticket and simultaneously fight for a reduced penalty.

If you pay your ticket, points will automatically be added to your license.

To reduce the risk of accumulating too many points on your license, you can call San Diego driver’s license attorney Jessica McElfresh, who will learn the nuances of your situation and help you fight the ticket in court. If you can’t avoid a conviction, Jessica will do her best to get you the minimum penalty, including avoiding license points.

Points Lead To License Suspension

The California DMV will automatically suspend your driver’s license for 6 months if you accumulate:

  • 4 points within 1 year
  • 6 points within 2 years
  • 8 points within 3 years

When you gain these number of points on your driving record, the state considers you a negligent operator, which is why they take your license away.

Points For Teen Drivers

California law is very strict regarding license points with young drivers on the road. If the driver is under the age of 18, 2 points within a 12 month period can lead to a 30-day restricted license. Three points in 12 months can result in a suspended license.

It won’t matter if the driver turns 18 during a restricted or suspension period, the penalty continues for the full duration.

Points For Commercial Drivers

California also takes a tough stance on moving violations for commercial vehicle drivers. If a driver of a commercial vehicle is ticketed, they receive 1 ½ more points than the average driver. This means a 2 point violation would put 3 points on a commercial driver’s license.

Fighting a Suspension

The DMV will send you a letter notifying you of the suspension. You can request a DMV hearing right away to fight the suspension and ask for a reduced penalty such as a restricted license. If you don’t already have an attorney, now is the time to contact a San Diego traffic lawyer like Jessica McElfresh.

An attorney can help you show the judge that you need to be able to drive for work. You will likely need to show that there is no other viable option for reliable transportation to and from work. This is the most common reason for the DMV allowing a restricted license.

Your attorney may also be able to show that you should not have your license suspended or restricted at all, depending on the circumstances.

How A San Diego Driver’s License Attorney Can Help

It’s great to be able to say you have a clean driving record and it’s something to be proud of. But even great drivers make mistakes and receive tickets for moving violations. When this happens, it may be better to fight the ticket with the help of an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney in order to avoid harsh penalties.

Contact McElfresh Law at (858) 756-7107 for a free consultation regarding your case.