California DMV Points System: How does it Work?

Driving is a privilege so if you break state and local driving laws you can expect fines and penalties. The California DMV points system is fair and flexible accounting for first-time offenses. Habitual offenders can expect the full extent of the law with variable repercussions.

This article covers:

  • How the system works
  • Violations and penalties
  • Preventing or removing points

Practice safe driving and you may never experience a ticket or violation (not counting accidents). Let’s look at the various violations and safety information you’ll want to know about the CA points system.

How the California Points System Works

Points apply if you’re at fault of a moving violation, non-moving violation, cell phone violations, and many other infractions. These can include instances like speeding, texting while driving, and scale up to major incidents like causing accidents or driving under the influence.

The purpose of the points systems is monitoring safe driving in the state of California. Tickets and other infractions are assigned points. The Cali DMV keeps a record of all convictions and accidents.

Repeated violations can lead to a license suspension or revocation. You’ll begin experiencing negative effects – like a suspension – if you accumulate too many points:

  • 4 points in 1-year
  • 6 points in 2-years
  • 8 points in 3-years

Getting these many points in the short period of time makes you a negligent operator usually resulting in a suspended license for 6-months. At this point, you’ll need to go through a license reinstatement.

You will experience automatic suspensions from items like driving without insurance, DUI, refusing a field test, or failing to appear in court for violations. Teen and CDL drivers face harsher penalties.

CA Driver Point Violations and Penalties

The severity of your moving and non-moving violations dictates how many points you’ll receive. Those navigating a commercial vehicle can expect a 1.5x increase for each point due to your responsibilities.

1-Point Examples

  • Speeding
  • Illegal U-turn
  • Disregarding traffic officer directions
  • Disobeying traffic signals
  • Improper lane use
  • Illegal passing

Most 1-point convictions stay on your record for up to 36-months.

2-Point Examples

  • Speeding over 100MPH
  • Driving with a suspend/revoked license
  • Hit and run
  • Explosives transportation

View the full points list on the CA DMV’s Vehicle Code Violations page.

Preventing Points on your Cali Driving Record

How you choose to handle traffic violations and penalties are up to you.

The obvious answer is practicing safe driving.


You can pay your fines and receive least 1-point anyway. Your auto insurance rates may go up, too. Or, choose to fight it through litigation with the help of a California traffic lawyer. You may want to consider the later if you’re a habitual offender at risk of losing their license!

How to Remove Points from a California Driving Record

You will first want to check how man points are on your California license before you go about learning how to remove them. You may request CA driving records, showing the status of your license and any associated points you’ve gained from tickets and other incidents.

Once you have information about your driving records – you will:

  • Wait for the points to drop off your record
  • Take a defensive driving course

Most 1-point infractions drop off after 3 years. DUI/DWI and harsher infractions may stay on your record for up to 10 years. You can choose to wait and continue practicing safe driving – always pay your traffic fines and fees else you may cause more points!


You can attend a California traffic school and take a defensive driving course. This course covers the basic steps and information like when you were getting a license. Taking the course can remove points from your record –check with your provider to learn how it works – and possibly lower insurance rates.