Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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In a nutshell...

  • All states have different demerit point systems which define how long points stay on your record
  • The Demerit Point system works by attaching a numerical value to traffic violations
  • Motor vehicle laws are set for the safety of all drivers

The DMV Point System can often be complicated for many drivers to understand and the question of how long points stay on your record depends on where you reside.

One important note is that demerit points can often stay on your record longer than the actual negative impact.

Even with multiple driving offenses, there is still a chance to be classified as a good driver with points on your record if the convictions were more than two or three years ago – depending on who your car insurance company is.

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What You Should Know About the Point System

Motor vehicle laws are set for the safety of all drivers and whether or not you think rolling through a four-way stop when nobody is around is going to hurt anybody, laws are still in place to prevent accidents which all drivers must comply.

In order to maintain some kind of system where drivers are held accountable for their actions, local governments have established the point system as a way to curb high-risk driving habits and penalize offenders who break traffic laws.

While most drivers will never be subject to a drivers license suspension, the mere threat of demerit points on your record and higher car insurance rates has proven to be very effective for improving compliance with motor vehicle laws.

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How does the point system work?

The Demerit Point system works by attaching a numerical value to traffic violations.

While some smaller violations such as not wearing a seatbelt carry minimal value, other high-risk violations such as excessive speeding, driving under the influence or failure to stop for a school bus carry very high point value.

In fact, there are some traffic violations where a single incident has enough value attached that your license becomes automatically suspended.

For most drivers, however, a drivers license will only be suspended after the accumulation of several traffic violations within a specific period.

For example, some states use a demerit point system that looks like this:

  • 12 points in any 12 month period = automatic 30-day suspension of your driver’s license
  • 18 points in any 18 month period = automatic 30-day suspension of your driver’s license

The best way to understand the demerit point system for your state is to contact your DMV.

Car Insurance with Points on your Record

While almost all moving violations result in demerit points, it’s important to note that not all citations equal higher car insurance rates.

Before applying for car insurance its worthwhile to pull your DMV record to confirm your driving record and also make sure there are no errors.

A single ticket is often overlooked by many car insurance companies, but it depends on what type or moving violation it was.

Any conviction for driving with no insurance or excessive speeding will almost always surely prevent you from getting a good driver discount.

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