California’s Traffic Violation Point System

How California’s licensing demerit point system works, including how too many tickets can lead to license suspension.

California issues fines and fees for traffic infractions but also imposes license-related penalties on repeat offenders. Like many states, California keeps track of traffic violations with a driver's license point system. This article explains California's traffic violation point system, including the consequences of getting too many points on your record.

How Does California's Traffic Ticket Point System Work?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) assigns a certain number of demerit points for moving violation convictions. The number of points roughly corresponds to the seriousness of the violation (see chart below).

California drivers who accumulate too many points on their records will first receive warning letters from the DMV. If the driver continues to rack up points, license suspension will follow (explained below).

However, points don't stay on your record forever. And drivers can sometimes avoid points by completing traffic school (explained below).

Warning Letters and License Suspension for Traffic Violation Points in California

The actions the DMV will take for point accumulation depend on the number of points the driver gets within 12, 24, and 36 months.

First Warning Letter for Demerit Points in California

The DMV will send a warning letter to drivers (explaining the consequences of acquiring too many points) who receive two points in 12 months, four points in 24 months, or six points in 36 months.

Second Warning Letter for Demerit Points in California

Drivers who receive three points in 12 months, five points in 24 months, or seven points in 36 months will receive a second warning letter from the DMV. This letter will inform the driver that any future violation points will result in license suspension.

When Traffic Violation Points Will Result in License Suspension in California

Drivers who accumulate four points in 12 months, six points in 24 months, or eight points in 36 months will receive an order of probation or suspension and be notified that they have been designated as a "negligent operator."

The DMV can issue a suspension of up to one year but normally imposes only a six-month suspension. The DMV also has the option of putting the driver on a one-year probation period. If the driver receives any traffic violations during the probation period, the DMV can impose additional suspension penalties.

SR22 Insurance Requirements Following a California Point Suspension

As a condition of license reinstatement following a point suspension, the DMV can require the licensee to maintain special proof of insurance (an SR22) for the next three years.

Points Suspensions for Underage California Drivers

Drivers under 18 years old are subject to tighter restrictions. Any minor with two points will automatically receive a 30-day license restriction. During this period, the teen can drive only while supervised by a parent, guardian, spouse, or licensed adult who's at least 25 years old.

How Long Do Traffic Ticket Points Stay on Your California Driving Record?

In California, points drop off your driving record after three years.

Avoiding Points in California by Doing Traffic School

For most violations, a California driver can avoid demerit violation points by paying the fine and completing traffic school. However, a driver is eligible for traffic school only once every 18 months.

Getting a Restricted License During a California Point Suspension

Drivers suspended for excessive points can request a restricted license. If granted, the license will authorize travel to and from work during limited hours. The DMV can also impose other restrictions it deems relevant. The restricted license isn't available for CDL holders.

Points Values for Specific Traffic Violations in California

California assigns the following point values to moving violations.


Points assessed

Failure to stop at accident (hit and run)


DUI (driving under the influence)


Reckless driving


Vehicular manslaughter or assault


Flee and elude (wanton) an officer


Driving on wrong side of highway


Speeding 100 miles per hour or more on highway




License restriction violation


Under 21 years old with BAC of .05% or more


Driving while suspended or revoked


At-fault accident


Child restraint violation


Distracted Driving


Unlisted traffic violation (some exceptions)


Some traffic tickets won't add any points to a person's driving record.

For commercial drivers, the normal point values are multiplied by 1 ½. For example, street racing in a semi-truck will result in three points.

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