Demerit Points and Your License in Virginia
What are ‘points’?
Spend a little time in traffic court and you’ll hear things like, “I got too many points on my license and it got suspended.” Or, “How can I lower the number of points on my license?”
To the initiated, Virginia’s system of “demerit points” may seem a bit hazy and random, but it is actually quite structured and not too hard to understand. Simply put, demerit points are issued for traffic violations, and there are consequences for accumulating too many points within a given time frame. Depending on your specific traffic violation or violations, fines, jail time, license suspension or revocation may also be levied against you.
How many demerit points are “too many”?
If you are under 18 years of age, any points issued on your license require you to attend a “driver improvement clinic” with 90 days. Fail to comply, and your license will be suspended by the DMV.
If you are 18 years of age and over, if you accumulate 12 demerit points within 12 months, you must complete a driver improvement clinic within 90 days. If you accumulate 18 demerit points within 24 months, you must complete a driver improvement clinic within 90 days
If you fail to complete a driver improvement clinic with 90 days, your license will be suspended. Similarily, if you accumulate 18 points with 12 months, or 24 points within 24 months, your license will be suspended automatically.
Which traffic offenses result in demerit points? How many points are assigned for each offense?
The list of traffic offenses that earn points are too numerous to list here, so this article will list only a few.
Speeding 1-9 mph above posted speed limit – stays on your license for 5 years
Improper passing, or passing on the right – 3 year duration on license
Driving through safety zone – 3 year duration
Using wireless device while operating a school buss – 3 year duration
Speeding – 3 years duration
Speeding 10-14 mph over posted speed limit – 3 years duration
Speeding 15-19 mph above the posted speed limit – 3 years duration
Speeding 10-19 mph above the posted speed limit – 3 years duration
Failure to drive to the right and stop for emergency vehicles – 3 years duration
Improper signal – 3 years duration
Failure to stop at railroad grade crossing – 3 years duration
Reckless driving in excess of 80 mph – 11 years duration
DUI – 11 years duration
Refusing blood/breath test – 11 years duration
Driving on a suspended license – 11 years duration
Safe Driving Points
You may also earn safe driving points if you have no demerit for one full calendar on your valid Virginia license. Up to 5 safe driving points can be used to offset demerit points.
Should I Consult An Attorney for a Traffic Offense?
Yes! While it might seem that a traffic ticket is pretty cut-and-dried, sometimes hiring a traffic attorney can be extremely useful. Even minor cases such as impeding traffic or following too closely or even running a red light can be arguable, and the results may be surprising. So it’s in your best interests to contact an attorney, most of whom offer free initial consultations, to see if your case has merit.