Can You Remove Points From Your California Driving Record?

In California, you can only prevent driver points from going on your record if you enroll in traffic school after receiving your ticket.
Written by Kianna Walpole
Edited by Jessica Barrett
drivers with traffic violations will receive points against their
driving record
. While you can’t remove demerit points from your history in California, you can prevent them from going on your record by enrolling in a court-approved traffic school.

How to keep violation points off your California driving record

If you’ve recently received a traffic citation in California, you can prevent the demerit points from hitting your driving record by applying for traffic school. 
When you get your ticket from law enforcement, it will generally specify whether or not you’re eligible for a
defensive driving course
. According to the
Judicial Branch of California
, you’re able to attend in-person or online traffic school if: 
The ticket is not for a commercial vehicle
You haven’t attended traffic school in the last 18 months
If you opt to enroll in a defensive driving program, you will need to contact the court. From there, a judge or the clerk will tell you the timeline in which you are required to finish the course. You will need to pay the applicable court and traffic school fees. 
Keep in mind: not all tickets are eligible for traffic school courses. If you were caught with a broken tail light or you were charged with
driving under the influence
(DUI), you may not qualify for a court-approved defensive driving course. To ensure your eligibility, contact the court listed on your traffic ticket. 
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offers a
full list of DMV-approved driver’s education courses
. To find the program closest to you, select ‘Type of Instruction’ and use filters, including license number, address, ZIP code, and county to help narrow your search.
Based on California’s point system, drivers who receive 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months, or 8 points in 36 months are at risk of
license suspension

What if the points are already on your California driving record?

Once license points are on your driving record, you cannot remove them. It doesn’t matter if it’s a minor or serious violation—you will have to wait out the charges. 
The length of time that points remain on your record varies based on the infraction and the number of points you acquire for the charge. Here’s a breakdown of the
California DMV’s Retention of Driver Record Information
Standard moving violations
3 years
Collisions and at-fault car accidents
3 years
10 years with a commercial driver’s license
Violations earning 2 points
10 years
3 years
55 years with a commercial driver’s license
10 years for non-commercial drivers on an out-of-house record
10 years for commercial drivers violating out-of-service orders
Negligent operator
3 years
Admin per se violations
3 years from reinstatement date or 10 years from last contact
55 years with a commercial driver’s license
Civil judgment actions
3 years from the proof of termination date or reinstatement date
Failure to provide proof of financial responsibility
3 years
Poor physical or mental condition while driving
3 years if action has ended
10 years from last contact if action is still in effect
Failure to appear in court
5 years
10 years for DUI
Commercial disqualifications
Violations of
California Code 15306
, and
3 years
Violations of
California Code 15311
10 years
Violations of
California Code 15300a
, 15300b,
, and
Up to 55 years
Drivers in California can
reinstate their driving privileges
once the point violation is dismissed. To reinstate a license, you must pay a fee of $14 plus a license reissue fee, which can cost between $100 and $150.
While you wait for your points to fall off your driving history, use this time to look into services that can continue to help you improve your driving habits. 
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As a high-risk driver, you’ll pay higher auto insurance rates—but with the
app, you can track your driving behavior and use your improvement score to earn rewards.
Not only will this help you avoid future tickets and accidents, but it could also help you qualify for good driver discounts through your insurance company.
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How can I remove points from my California driving record?

You can’t remove existing points off your California driving record—but if you recently got a ticket, you can try to prevent them from impacting your driving history (and later, car insurance) by enrolling in a DMV-approved defensive driving course.

What happens if I get 3 points on my license in California?

More serious infractions, like a hit-and-run, can lead to 2-3 points on your record. If you get 3 points on your record, you will likely experience higher fines—but if you rack up 4 points within a 12-month period, you could face license suspension. 

How often can a California driver attend traffic school to reduce points?

Drivers can attend traffic school once every 18 months for a traffic violation. 

Is traffic school worth it in California?

Yes. Even if you’re not working toward expunging a misdemeanor or infraction from your record, you can still benefit from defensive driving programs. After a ticket, your insurance premiums will rise. A defensive driving course can qualify you for insurance discounts, while also helping you build your safe driving skills. 

How much does 1 point affect insurance in California?

Receiving 1 point on your California driver’s license isn’t likely to impact your insurance costs, as in California, these are typically only assigned to non-moving violations. If you accumulate 2 or more points, you could experience higher-than-average rates. 

Does California add points for out-of-state tickets?

Yes, the California DMV will add one point to your driving record if they discover you have an out-of-state ticket.

Are cell phone tickets worth points in California?

No, initial cell phone tickets do not cost you driving points. Nonetheless, if you receive another cell phone ticket within 36 months of your first, you can receive up to 1 point on your record, which will remain there for up to 2 years.

Does California share driving records with other states?

No, California does not share driving records with other states. But, this does not mean that other states don’t share your history with California, so if you get an out-of-state ticket, it could be reflected on your record when you return home.

How many points is a DUI in California?

A DUI is worth 2 demerit points as per the California DMV point system. Drivers with a DUI are not eligible for traffic school.

Do accidents count as points in California?

Yes, a collision or at-fault accident in California can result in 1 point against your driving record.

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