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If you have high demerit points, you can take a defensive driving course, work to keep a clean driving record, or simply wait for them to be removed.
Many states use the points system, in which you receive demerit points on your license for certain traffic violations. But having points on your record signals to insurance companies that you’re a higher-risk driver and can negatively impact your car insurance rates.
Here, the car owner’s super app Jerry is covering what to do if you have driver’s license points on your driving record.
What are demerit points?
If you commit a traffic violation, get a ticket, or, in some circumstances, get into an accident, your state DMV could assign points to your driver’s license. These points accumulate on your driving record and indicate to your state and insurance companies whether you have a poor driving record.
Violations that often result in points on your license include:
- Failing to obey a stop sign or traffic signal
- Turning improperly
- Following too closely
- Passing improperly
- Careless driving
Insurance companies use their own point system when setting your premium. They assign point values to moving offenses—the more serious the offense, the more points you receive. Drivers with more points are a high risk for insurers, and thus pay higher premiums.
Do all states use the point system?
No—there are a handful of states that don’t have an official system for assigning demerit points. Instead, they impose penalties for violations on a case-by-case basis. These states are:
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What to do if you have high demerit points
Though demerit points are serious, they aren’t typically permanent marks on your driving record—and you may even be able to remove some of the points you’ve accrued. Here’s how.
Take a defensive driving course
Some states that assign demerit points for traffic tickets or citations offer the opportunity to remove those points if you attend an approved defensive driving course.
The requirements vary by state, but courses are often offered in person and online. Some may take a few hours, while others require a longer commitment. In some cases, like in Washington DC, you may be required to get approval from a DMV Hearing Examiner prior to completing the course.
To determine whether you’re eligible for points reduction with a defensive driving course, contact your local DMV office.
Keep a clean driving record
If you’ve already racked up demerit points on your driving record, it’s imperative that you keep that number from climbing any higher. When you’re on the road, be sure to follow the rules to minimize your chances of another traffic violation.
- Drive as little as possible—look at alternate transportation options, such as biking, public transit, or carpooling
- Never exceed the speed limit—speeding usually comes with demerit points if you’re caught
- Use handsfree devices—most states have laws against distracted driving, so keep the phone away while you’re on the road
- Stay sober—a DUI will affect your driving record for up to a decade or more, so never drive while impaired
Demerit points are usually removed after a set period, the length of which depends on the severity of the violation and the state law. Typically, you can expect points to “fall off” after about two years—though for a more serious infraction, it can take longer.
A severe violation, such as a DUI, typically won't be removed from your record unless there is a plea agreement with that stipulation—for example, if you attend a rehab program. There may also be a probationary period after a first offense that will allow the conviction to be expunged if you do not incur any more violations for a set period of time.
Shop around for insurance
If you have high demerit points, comparison shopping to find the best car insurance is a must.
Insurers consider multiple factors when setting your premium—and some will weigh your driving record and points more heavily than others. Comparing quotes from various companies is the only way to ensure you’re not being wildly overcharged for your coverage.
Jerry makes shopping around for insurance effortless. It takes less than a minute to sign up and see customizable quotes from more than 50 insurance companies. When you’ve found one you like, Jerry handles all the paperwork and phone calls to finalize it—and even helps cancel your old policy!
How do driver’s license points affect insurance?
Driver’s license points tell your insurance company that you are a higher-risk driver who is more likely to submit a claim. As a result, your insurance rates will be higher than average.
If you accrue too many points, the state may suspend your license—and this will also raise your insurance rates.
Tickets for moving violations that don’t accrue demerit points will also impact your premiums.
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How long do points stay on your insurance record?
The points on your record affect your insurance for varying lengths of time depending on the violation. A minor moving violation could affect your insurance for 2 to 3 years. A DUI, on the other hand, could impact your insurance rates for 10 years or more.
How long do points stay on your driving record?
The length of time that points stay on your driving record varies depending on the severity of the infraction. A minor speeding ticket may fall off after a year or two, while something more serious, like a DUI, may remain for the rest of your life.
How do I check how many demerit points I have?
If you want to know how many points you have, you can request a copy of your driving record from the DMV:
- In person at your local DMV field office—often for a fee of about $5
- Online for a fee of about $2—note that online copies are not “official”
- By mail to your state DMV—you’ll need to include a request form and payment
You may also be able to request a copy of your driving record from your insurance agent or through a third-party service.