Traffic violations are the most commonly penalized crime in the United States. And it likely comes as no surprise to hear that all traffic violations are not considered equal. While certain traffic violations are relatively minor and therefore carry relatively small penalties, other traffic violations are much more serious and can carry relatively serious penalties.
While all states have systems in place to keep track of the types and severity of traffic violations, the most common method that is used by many of the states is a points system.
Points systems are exactly that: systems that assign points of varying amounts to a person’s driving record based on the specific traffic violations that person commits. In general, less serious offenses are assigned lower point values—perhaps only one or two points—whereas more serious offenses are assigned higher point values—perhaps as many as five or six points.
As an individual commits traffic violations, points are attached to their driving record. As time passes, points on the individual’s driving record age off.
States with points systems will have defined limits as to the number of points a person can receive during a set timeframe. If the person accumulates enough points to reach the limit, their license may be suspended or revoked.
There are a wide variety of traffic violations for which you can receive a ticket and therefore have points attached to your driving record. These traffic violations include but may not be limited to the following:
- Driving no more than ten miles per hour above the speed limit
- Refusing to allow a police officer to administer a breathalyzer or other test for blood alcohol when under 21 years of age
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Passing illegally
- Driving between 10 and 15 miles per hour above the speed limit
- Failing to stop for a school bus when it is dropping off or picking up children
- Driving under the influence of controlled substances when under 21 years of age
- Driving between 16 and 20 miles per hour above the speed limit
- Failing to yield to an ambulance, fire truck, or other emergency vehicle
- Committing a felony while driving
- Driving under the influence of controlled substances when over 21 years of age
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Reckless driving
- Refusing to allow a police officer to administer a breathalyzer or other test for blood alcohol when over 21 years of age
- Fleeing from a police officer
In general the points noted above are listed for least severe to most severe, but the exact point values assigned to a given traffic violation will vary from state to state.
Insurance companies generally have information to points systems. Based on the points a person has accumulated, an automobile insurance company may raise the insurance rates of that person, as points may be considered an indication of someone who is driving in an unsafe manner and there the insurance company must charge a higher rate to address the increased risk.
Remember the information above is general in nature and should not be considered legal advice. If you have received a ticket for one or more traffic violations and you want to understand your options outside of just paying the fine or how they will affect your driving record, you can speak with a criminal defense attorney who specializes in traffic violations. A criminal defense attorney who specializes in traffic violations will understand the traffic laws in your state and can advise you as to your options based on those laws and the tickets you have received.
- Traffic Violations, Part 4 – Defenses Against a Ticket (criminaldefensehome.com)
- Traffic Violations, Part 3 – Deciding to Fight a Ticket (criminaldefensehome.com)
- Traffic Violations, Part 2 – Outside a Motor Vehicle (criminaldefensehome.com)
- Traffic Violations, Part 1 – Common Motor Vehicle Laws (criminaldefensehome.com)
- Is it worth it to go to traffic school? (criminaldefensehome.com)