What is the Virginia Driver Improvement Program?

by sem on April 8, 2013

What is the Virginia Driver Improvement Program?

How likely are you to be involved in a vehicle crash? It may surprise you to learn that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) says you have a 1 in 4 chance.

In an effort to reduce the amount of crashes, the DMV has created a driver improvement program and point system that rewards safe driving and helps prevent unsafe drivers by warning them ahead of time. It also helps to educate bad drivers by helping them course-correct and become safer, and leads to dangerous drivers being taken off the road completely. Here’s how it works:

DEMERIT POINTS

If you are convicted of a traffic violation in the state of Virginia, you are assigned demerit points that remain on your record for 2 years or longer. Once you’re convicted of a traffic violation, the court notifies the DMV. From there, the DMV will attach the conviction to your driver record, assign the appropriate demerit points, and notify your insurance company.

Each subsequent violation adds additional points onto your record, and if you rack up too many demerit points, the punishments can be severe. They can include a mandatory driver improvement clinic, or even a suspended license.

POINT VALUES

In Virginia, demerit points fall into three general categories: 3-point violations, 4-point violations, and 6-point violations. Naturally, the greater the point value, the more serious the offense will be. Three-point violations include things like improper passing, illegal U-turns, and driving at night without your lights, whereas 4-point violations tend to be a little more serious. They include violations like speeding, following too closely, and driving the wrong way down a one-way street. The 6-pointers are reserved for felony or misdemeanor reckless driving violations, driving under the influence, and the like.

For a complete list of violations and their demerit point values, as well as the number of years they remain on your record, see the DMV’s Violations page.

SAFE DRIVING POINTS

Much like demerit points, drivers earn “safe driving points” for each calendar year they go without traffic violations. Safe Virginia drivers can accumulate a total of 5 safe driving points, and they can be “spent” on erasing demerit points you may accrue. You can also earn 5 safe driving points by voluntarily completing a state-approved Driver Improvement program. Having safe driving points to spend can come in handy, and may mean the difference between hiked-up insurance rates, and keeping them nice and low.

WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?

If you want to keep your safe driving skills sharpened, and to also make sure you’re accumulating Safe Driving Points instead of Demerit Points, there’s a lot you can do. Enrolling in a Virginia Driver Improvement Course is a great start, as it covers specific tips and practices you can use along with safe driving skills in general.

As with most things, when it comes to the Virginia Driver Improvement Program, it’s better to be on the safe side.


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