In all fifty states, driving is considered a privilege rather than a right. States may use penalty points to track drivers they consider unsafe, and getting too many points on a license can lead to serious problems.
As you learn more about the relationship between points and your insurance, you’ll see how getting points can cost you money in the long run, and how you can find ways to still save on your insurance costs.
One way you can save on insurance is by comparing quotes and finding the best company for the best price. Enter your zip code above to begin.
What are Penalty Points
Points can be added to your license for a variety of reasons.
Most commonly, points are a response to moving violations.
States like New Jersey do not assess points for parking and non-moving violations such as failure to wear a seatbelt. If you exceed a certain number of points, you can lose your license.
Point amounts typically increase based on the severity of the crime and the likelihood that it might result in an accident. Here are just a few of the point values that you would find in different states:
- Six points for manslaughter, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and reckless driving
- Four points for being 16 miles or more over the posted speed limit
- Three points for improper passing or failing to stop at a railroad crossing
- Two points for being over the speed limit by one to ten miles per hour
Removing Points from a License
Every state has its own requirements for removing points from a license. They generally come off with time, but there are also some steps you may be able to speed up the process.
Here are steps you can take in a few different states to eliminate the points that have built up:
- In California, most points remain on a record for 39 months, but a hit-and-run or DUI will remain in place for 13 years
- New York state allows drivers to remove points that are more than 18 months old by taking a defensive driving class
- You can get a two-point credit in Ohio if you have fewer than 12 points on your record and sign up for a remedial driver course. This credit will not actually remove points but will provide drivers with a cushion against future infractions
Even if your state allows you to take a class in exchange for point reduction, they may force you to wait a specified period of time before the change will go into effect.
If your insurance rates saw a spike following the assessment, you can always shop around to see about finding lower rates.
Driving Record is the Most Critical Factor in Setting Premiums
Insurance companies look at a range of information when setting premiums, including where you live, gender, type of car, and marital status. However, your own driving record will play the greatest single role in determining your rates.
A single ticket can cause your rates to go up by as much as 22 percent. Whether your state uses points or just reports directly to the insurance on file, average rates will go up by:
- 22 percent for reckless driving
- 19 percent for a first-offense DUI
- 15 percent for being more than 30 miles-per-hour over the speed limit
- 14 percent for improper passing
- 13 percent for tailgating
- 6 percent for driving without car insurance
If you’re waiting patiently for your record to improve as points age out, you can still save money by making a few changes to your insurance. Consider increasing your deductible or dropping little extras like glass breakage.
Another option is to shop around with other companies to see what price they will charge for comparable coverage.
Insurance Companies Check On Young Drivers More Frequently
While some infractions are reported directly to insurance companies, states often just let the company find out by pulling the reports themselves.
It can be costly for insurance companies to pull biannual reports on every driver they insure, so many companies are being more selective about who they check up on.
Insurance companies are trying to save money as well, so they’ve developed a pattern for checking driving reports. In addition to looking at young drivers frequently, they also check your information:
- About once every 18 to 24 months
- When you sign up for a new plan
- When you make changes to your plan such as adding coverage or buying a high-performance car
If you’ve recently gotten a ticket, you should start out by being patient and waiting to see if you’re notified of an increase. Immediately changing your plan can bring light to the infractions and result in higher rates.
However, if you’ve already been hit with an increase, then you have nothing to lose by shopping around for more attractive rates.
Steps you Can Take to Lower Premiums
There are steps you can take to bring your premiums back down if you’ve already seen an increase. Start by shopping around to see if you can find better rates.
If it’s only a negligible savings, then stay where you are so that you can take advantage of special programs that may be available to long-term customers. You may also be able to save by:
- Completing a defensive driving course
- Increasing your deductible
- Maintaining your good credit score
- Getting a tracking device to show the insurance company that your patterns and habits have improved
There are plenty of insurance plans to choose from, and you can still switch providers even if you have penalty points on your license. If your rates have jumped up, then talk to other insurance companies to see if they can help you.
As your record improves, you can also call your provider and ask them to reassess your rates and lower them. You may want to pull your record to confirm that it’s completely clean before asking to have your rates reassessed.
Don’t forget to compare car insurance quotes to make sure you’re not overpaying for coverage.