Virginia’s Traffic Violation Point System

How Virginia’s demerit point system works, including the penalties associated with point accumulation.

In an effort to keep highways safer, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) keeps track of all moving violation convictions. The DMV assigns points (three, four, or six) for different traffic offenses. Drivers who accumulate too many points may face probation, license suspension, or having to attend a driving clinic.

How Points Are Acquired and Reduced

The DMV assigns points for convictions that it considers serious (six points), relatively serious (four points), or less serious (three points). Here are the points assigned to some of the most common traffic offenses.

Violation

Points Assessed

Driving while intoxicated

6

Under 21 driving after consuming alcohol

6

Reckless driving

6

Speeding 20 miles per hour or more over limit

6

Racing

6

Failure to yield right of way

4

Speeding 10 to 19 miles per hour over limit

4

Following too closely

4

Failure to stop before entering highway

4

Aggressive driving

4

Improper driving (lower than reckless)

3

Speeding 1 to 9 miles per hour over limit

3

Improper passing

3

Failure to obey traffic sign

3

However, multiple violations arising out of the same occurrence will result in only a single assessment of points.

Reducing Your Points

Point expiration. Assigned points expire two years after the conviction date. The conviction will remain on the driver’s record, but the points will no longer be counted.

Point credits. For every year without a traffic ticket, a driver will earn a one-point credit to reduce the current point total or to create a point credit “buffer” of up to five points. A driver can also earn five point credits by voluntarily completing a driver improvement clinic. Drivers can get the clinic credit only once every two years.

Consequences of Accumulating Too Many Points

A driver who accumulates eight points will generally receive a warning letter from the DMV indicating the penalties of future traffic violations. Once a driver accumulates 12 points in a 12-month period (or 18 points in a 24-month period), the DMV will send a letter requiring the driver to attend a driver improvement clinic within 90 days.

Driver improvement clinic. Failure to complete the clinic within 90 days will result in the driver’s license being suspended until completion. Completion of the clinic will result in a five-point credit. The driver improvement clinic can also be ordered by the court as part of sentencing, and the judge can then issue point credits. Following the clinic, the driver will be on probation for six months.

Probation. During probation, a driver will be automatically suspended if he or she is convicted of any traffic violation. A six-point traffic violation will result in a 90-day suspension, a four-point violation will result in a 60-day suspension, and a three-point violation will result in a 45-day suspension. A suspended driver can apply for a restricted license to travel to and from work if the driver has no prior license suspensions. Following license reinstatement, the driver will begin another six-month probation period.

Driver control period. After completing probation, the driver will be placed on a “driver control” period of 18 months. During this time, the driver isn’t subject to restrictions, but any traffic violation convictions will result in the driver being put back on probation for six months (followed by another 18-month control period).

Automatic suspension. A driver with 18 points in 12 months or 24 points in 24 months will be immediately suspended. Once reinstated, the driver must complete the clinic, six months of probation, and 18 months of driver control.

Minor Drivers

Drivers under the age of 18 are subject to the limits of the provisional license. A minor driver with nine points in a year or 12 points in 24 months must complete a driver improvement clinic, followed by six months of probation and 18 months of driver control.

These penalties are separate from the traffic infraction suspensions specific to teen licenses.

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