Understanding the California DMV Point System

Understanding the California DMV Point System

Tracking Unsafe Drivers

To keep tabs on dangerous drivers, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) operates the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS). Under the NOTS, the DMV assigns points to traffic code violations that involve or affect safely operating a vehicle. These points are added to motorists’ driving records and can prompt action from the DMV.

How the Point System Works

Points are assigned for accidents and traffic tickets. The DMV will assign points to your record once it receives a notice of violation from the court or notice of an accident you were in some way responsible for from law enforcement. Non-moving violations such as parking tickets do not result in a point as long as they do not make it unsafe for the motorist to drive. Out of state violations will also be assigned points, but out of state collisions are not.

The DMV will assign zero to three points for any violation or accident. Violations resulting in zero points typically do not make it unsafe to drive, and these are likely to be mechanical or “fix-it” tickets. These may appear on your driving record, but will not prompt action from the DMV.

Violations resulting in one point include such moving violations as speeding or illegal turns. These are typically minor violations.

Two-point violations are generally criminal violations such as hit and run, reckless driving, or DUI. These result in two points because they are more serious and are more of a safety risk than one-point violations.

Three-point violations are reserved for major violations, such as DUI, committed while a driver was operating a commercial vehicle. Drivers holding commercial Class A or Class B licenses are subject to the same point system, but the DMV will assign points for violations at a rate equal to 1.5 times what a non-commercial driver would incur. For example, if a Class A license holder committed a one point violation, 1.5 points would be added to his or her driving record.

If law enforcement sends notice to the DMV that you were responsible for or contributed in some way to an accident, you might be able to refute your liability. Law enforcement makes a liability determination given the limited information they can gather at the scene of an accident. It is not uncommon for these initial liability determinations to be incorrect, so you should speak with an attorney about requesting an administrative hearing in which you can refute your liability.

Points are not just numbers on your record. They can prompt the DMV to take adverse action against your driving privileges. And anyone can request a copy of your driving record, meaning those points could be seen by your insurance company or employer, too. There are four levels of NOTS action:

Level I: This is a warning level. If you get 2 points within a 12-month period, 4 within a 24-month period, or 6 within a 36-month period, the DMV will send you a warning letter.

Level II: This is a notice level. If you get 3 points within a 12-month period, 5 within a 24-month period, or 7 within a 36-month period, the DMV will send you a Notice of Intent to Suspend your license.

Level III: At this level, the DMV takes action against your driving privileges. If you get 4 points within a 12-month period, 6 within a 24-month period, or 8 within a 36-month period, the DMV will suspend your driver license for six months and send you an Order of Probation/Suspension. You will be put on probation for one year, during which time you could face increased penalties for accumulating more points. You will also be designated a negligent operator.

Level IV: You reach level IV when you accumulate points while on probation as a negligent operator. The DMV will add six months to your license suspension and one year to your probation for a first or second violation of your probation. Your driver license will be revoked for one year if you violate your probation a third time.

You should speak with an experienced attorney in your area today if you have received a letter or notice from the DMV. There might be steps you can take to remove points from your record or challenge a suspension or revocation of your license. An attorney can explain how a point could affect you and what you can do to keep your driving record clean.

Are you facing a license suspension? If so, contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for expert counsel. Experienced in driving crime defense, our Visalia area legal team can advise you of your options and help you take steps to keep you on the road. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Christopher Martens will aggressively defend your rights at trial and help you get the outcome you want. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at MartensLaw@gmail.com for a free consultation.

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