How many points can you get on your license before it’s suspended?

How many points can you get on your license before it's suspended? This is a great question to be asking if you're concerned. The number of points you can get on your driver’s license before it’s suspended depends on a few factors in your state. Nine states have no point system, but in the others, you need at least 12 points within as many months to get your driver’s license suspended. In some cases, you can reduce the points you have on your license or avoid getting your license suspended.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Jun 6, 2022

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What You Should Know

  • You can accumulate points on your driver’s license in 41 states and in the District of Columbia
  • In most cases, 12 points within a year are sufficient to warrant a suspended license, but major traffic violations alone count in most states
  • Most states have point expiration periods of two years

How many points can you get on your license before it’s suspended? And can those points affect your auto insurance?

Each state has a different way of assessing points for driver’s licenses. Of course, the number of points you can receive before the state suspends your license differs among states as well. Some of the best auto insurance companies also rely on point systems, but they’re separate from your state’s point system.

Read on to learn more about the number of points you can accumulate on your driver’s license before it’s suspended and when those points expire. And if you want to see rates from top auto insurance companies near you, enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool above.

How many points can you get on your license in your state?

The number of points you can accumulate on your driver’s license (before your state suspends or revokes your driving privileges) depends on a couple of factors. 

The first determinant is the level of your traffic violation. States differentiate between minor and major infractions and assess more points to the latter.

Secondly, the period during which you garnered those points plays a role. For example, in some states, if you reach a balance of 12 points on your license within 24 months, your state will suspend your license.

Now, nine states do not have a point system, but they will determine when to suspend or revoke driver’s licenses based on each driver’s moving violations. That is also true among the states that do have point systems:

  • The Michigan Secretary of State requires you to attend a reexamination with a 12-point balance. After reexamination, the state may suspend or revoke your license or leave it unaffected.
  • In Montana, the level of your traffic violation can garner a suspension regardless of your point total.
  • Tennessee allows you to request an administrative hearing for the opportunity to attend a defensive driving course and prevent a license suspension.
  • Texas requires you to pay a surcharge after reaching a specific point total, and the failure to pay it results in a suspension.

With that understanding, let’s examine point systems in most states.

Driver’s License Point Systems

Here is how 41 states and the District of Columbia assess points:

Driver’s License Point Systems by State

StatePoints for Minor ViolationPoints for Major Violation
District of Columbia28
New Hampshire26
New Jersey28
New Mexico28
New York211
North Carolina15
North Dakota124
South Carolina26
South Dakota210
West Virginia28
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Minor traffic violations can include running a stoplight, texting while driving, or speeding. Criminal traffic violations include driving under the influence, reckless driving, and being at fault in a fatal accident.

Point Totals for a Suspended License

For most states, you only need a point balance of 12 points before your license is suspended.

Number of Points Needed to Cause a Driver’s License Suspension

StatePoint TotalTimeframe (in Months, Respectively)
Alaska12 or 1812 or 24
Arkansas14Current point balance
California4, 6, or 812, 24, or 36
Colorado12 or 1812 or 24
District of Columbia1024
Florida12, 18, or 2412, 18, or 36
Idaho12-17, 18-23, or at least 2412, 24, or 36
Missouri12, 18, or 2412, 24, or 36
New Hampshire12, 18, or 2412, 24, or 36
New Jersey12Current point balance
New Mexico712
New York11 points18
North Carolina12 (or 8 after the reinstatement of license)36
North Dakota12Current point balance
PennsylvaniaHaving a 6-point balance for a second timeDecision after a hearing
South Carolina1212
South Dakota15 or 2212 or 24
Virginia18 or 2412 or 24
West Virginia1224
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Next, we will consider how states subtract points from your driver’s license.

Point Expiration Periods

In most states, points on your driver’s license are eradicated after two years.

Driver’s License Point Expiration Periods by State

StateYears for Points to Expire
Alaska1 year without traffic violations for state DMV to remove 2 points
ColoradoPoints in Colorado do not expire
DelawarePoints are halved after 1 year
District of Columbia2
Kentucky2 (after conviction)
New Hampshire3
New Jersey3 points deducted for every year without a violation after your last conviction
New Mexico1
New York1.5
North Carolina3
North DakotaFollowing suspension: 1 point removed after every 3 months without violation, or 3 points removed every 12 months after taking a state-approved driving course
Oklahoma2 points removed every year without a traffic violation, all points removed after 3 years without a violation
Pennsylvania3 points removed after 1 year without a violation
South Carolina2 (points are half the value after 1 year)
South DakotaDepends on the violation
West Virginia2
WisconsinLength of ticket on your record
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Note that the California Department of Motor Vehicles assesses more points for commercial drivers with traffic violations. Major commercial violations may remain on your record for 55 years.

In Illinois, it takes four to five years for points to be removed from one’s record for minor violations. Tickets that cause a license suspension require a seven-year wait.

Read on to discover what garners a license suspension in other states.

Other Things That Can Cause Your License Suspension

In the remaining nine states, the following violations cause license suspensions:

Driver’s License Suspensions in States Without Point Systems

HawaiiA DUI, major traffic violations, refusing or failing to take a blood alcohol test, or violating state insurance laws
KansasA DUI, major traffic violations, a lapse in auto insurance coverage, failure to pay off traffic tickets
LouisianaA DUI, a high number of minor traffic violations, major traffic violations, driving without auto insurance, or failure to stop for a school bus
MinnesotaA DUI, a lapse in auto insurance coverage, major traffic violations, failure to pay off driving tickets (4 violations in 12 months or 5 violations in 24 months)
MississippiA DUI, driving without auto insurance, reckless driving, a high number of traffic violations, an at-fault fatal accident
OregonA DUI, driving without auto insurance, 3 major traffic violations or 20 traffic violations in 5 years, an at-fault fatal accident
Rhode IslandA DUI, a lapse in auto insurance coverage, 3 reckless driving convictions in a year, a high number of traffic violations, felonies involving vehicles
WashingtonA DUI, a lapse in auto insurance coverage, 3 major traffic violations or 20 traffic violations in 5 years, felonies involving vehicles
WyomingA DUI, a lapse in auto insurance coverage, reckless driving, 4 traffic violations in a year, leaving the scene of an accident
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Next, let’s review how many points you can accumulate on your license with an auto insurance company.

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How many points can you get on your license for auto insurance purposes?

While auto insurance companies need to consider driving records in order to assess risk, they have separate point systems. Many companies work with the Insurance Services Office, currently owned by Verisk.

If you reach a certain level of risk, your auto insurance company may cancel your policy or refuse to renew it. And the level of risk is often based on the amount of claims you file and the number of accidents you have within a certain period, typically three to five years. That is true even with accident forgiveness.

How can you find out your driver’s license point total?

If you are wondering, How many points do I have on my license?, you can contact your state Department of Motor Vehicles in one of three ways:

  • Use your state’s online portal.
  • Send a letter via snail mail.
  • Go directly to a DMV office (or its equivalent) near you.

You may pay a $12-$25 fee in some states, but the information is free of charge in most cases. You will also need to provide your driver’s license number, date of birth, and social security number.

Driver’s License Point Totals: The Bottom Line

As you can see, in most cases, a high number of minor traffic violations or merely one major violation can warrant a driver’s license suspension. The good news is that your points will expire in most states, provided that you either improve your driving record or take other actions. In general, it’s important to remember the following guidelines:

  1. Be aware of the traffic laws in the state where you’re driving.
  2. Improve your driving record or maintain a clean record.
  3. Inquire about the number of points on your driving record.
  4. Always maintain auto insurance coverage.
  5. Take a defensive driving course.

Taking a defensive driving course can help you delay suspension or reinstate your license. Also, you can improve your driving, and some auto insurance companies may offer you a discount.

We hope that this information has answered the question, “How many points can I get on my license?” Now, if you need to see rates from top auto insurance companies in your area, enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool below.

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