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Virginia’s Driver Demerit Point System

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Understanding Virginia’s Driver Demerit Point System

In Virginia, driving behavior can either be penalized or rewarded, all with the DMV Driver Point System. If you are convicted of a moving violation, you can expect demerit points to be added to your driving record. On the flip side, if you maintain a good driving record, or take a Virginia Driver Improvement course, you can earn valuable safe driver points. Read on for more information on how the Virginia point system works.

What Are Demerit Points?

Traffic tickets in Virginia carry a point value, also called demerit points. Different citations have different values. If you are convicted of a traffic violation, the points will be added to your driving record and will stay there for two years from the date you committed the offense.

Every traffic conviction you receive is added to your record, and those demerit points can add up fast. If you’re not careful, you could be facing a license suspension. Here is a breakdown of some of common traffic tickets and their point values:

  • 3 Points: exceeding the speed limit by 1-9 MPH, driving without a license, passing improperly, making an improper U-turn, etc.
  • 4 Points: driving recklessly, failure to use or improper use of signal, tailgating, etc.
  • 6 Points: exceeding the speed limit by 80 MPH, driving under the influence, racing another car, driving with a suspended license, etc.
Drivers Over the Age of 18

Teen drivers and adult drivers face different penalties for traffic violations in Virginia. In addition, drivers 18-19 years of age are handled differently than their 20-year-old peers. One example is taking a driver improvement clinic. Drivers who are convicted of a violation that carries demerit points will be ordered by the court to complete a driver improvement course. But whereas drivers 18-19 years of age may only take their course in a classroom, drivers over the age of 20 have the ability to complete their court-mandated driver improvement course online.

All drivers over the age of 18 who accumulate 12 demerit points in 12 months are required to complete a driver improvement course within 90 days. If 18 demerit points are added to your record with 1 year, you’ll lose your driving privileges for 6 months and be required to take a Virginia driver improvement clinic online before your license is restored.

Drivers Under the Age of 18

Young drivers tend to pose higher accident risks, so penalties for teens tend to be more severe. For example, if you’re under 18 and you’re convicted of a demerit point violation, you will be required to take a driver improvement clinic with 90 days. If you don’t meet this deadline, your license (or permit) will be suspended by the DMV until this course is completed.

If you receive a second demerit point violation, your license will automatically be suspended for 90 days. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court may grant you a restricted license, but you’ll need to present your case to your local court.

Still not driving safely? If you’re under 18 and you are convicted of a third violation earning you additional demerit points, you’ll lose your permit or license for either one year or until you reach 18 years of age. The DMV will choose whichever is the longer amount of time.

What are Virginia Safe Driving Points?

It’s not all doom and gloom for Virginia drivers. By following traffic laws and avoiding tickets, drivers can actually accrue up to 5 safe driving points. These points can be a nice safety net just in case you do find yourself facing a ticket someday.

Here’s how it works: Imagine you were an exemplary driver for 5 years. Your driving record will reflect that with 5 safe driver points. Oops – you were a little impatient one day and got a ticket for speeding 5 miles above the limit. The 3 points from your ticket will be deducted from your 5 safe driver points, leaving you with 2 remaining positive points.

In addition, some drivers are eligible to earn safe driving points by taking a driver improvement course. This can be done whether you’ve received a traffic ticket or not. If you did receive a 3- or 4-point violation, taking a safe driver course will offset these points and help prevent your insurance rates from going up. It’s important to note that if you’re ordered by the court to take a driver improvement clinic, you will not earn safe driving points.

Keeping Your Driving Record Clean

As we mentioned, drivers who stay out of trouble are rewarded with a maximum of 5 safe driving points. In addition, by voluntarily taking a driver improvement course in Virginia, you can also earn 5 safe driving points. Choosing to take a driver improvement course when you do receive a traffic ticket conviction is a good idea. It will offset the negative points and keep your insurance rates low.

Once you’ve taken a course, be sure to contact your Virginia DMV to obtain a copy of your driving record. You’ll want to review your points and ensure you received credit for your course. If any mistakes occur, contact the DMV immediately to prevent unnecessary and costly insurance rate hikes.

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