As a driver, there are a million things you need to be aware of. While you’re behind the wheel, you need to be watching the road in front of you, behind you, and to the side of you. You need to know all the laws of the road—when to yield, when to merge, and what the different colored lines on the road mean. And off the road, there is even more information to stay on top of—making sure your registration doesn’t run out, keeping your insurance up to date, and so on. But there’s one more thing drivers should be aware of – even though far too many don’t understand it: the point system.
The point system is not new. It has been around for a while, but surprisingly few people really know how it works. At its simplest, the point system is just a convenient way for state law officials to keep track of drivers’ traffic offences, but the system can also result in some unpleasantness for drivers. If you accumulate too many points, you could be at risk of losing your license.
The Point System: What You Need to Know
Different states have different rules and regulations around their point systems. Unfortunately, North Carolina actually has some of the more complicated laws in the country, but the basic rules are very similar to those of other states.In North Carolina, there are 22 traffic violations that may earn you points, and the number of points associated with each violation depends on the seriousness of the crime.Click To Tweet
Some of the more popular offenses that result in points include:
- Passing a school bus: 5 points
- A hit and run resulting in property damage: 4 points
- Failure to stop for a siren: 3 points
- Failure to properly restrain a child in a seat belt: 2 points
- Speeding over 55mph: 3 points
After you accumulate seven points, you may be ordered to attend a Driver Improvement Clinic. These clinics are opportunities for drivers to improve their driving skills as well as their records. With the completion of a course, three points are deducted from your total, so you are in a better position to avoid the possible consequences that come with accumulating higher numbers of points. Drivers are allowed to take a clinic once every five years.
As you accumulate more points, you are at a greater risk of facing consequences such as license suspension. In North Carolina, your license may be suspended if:
- You accumulate 12 points within three years; and/or
- You accumulate eight points within three years after your license has been reinstated
The length of a license suspension varies based on how many offenses you have committed.
- First suspension: 60 days
- Second suspension: 6 months
- Third suspension: 12 months
It is important to note that there are other offenses that could result in the immediate suspension of your license, regardless of how many points you have or how many points you earned from that one offense. For instance, your license may be suspended if:
- You acquire two speeding convictions within 12 months
- You are convicted for speeding over 75mph
- You are convicted of a DWI
- You are convicted of speeding at least 15mph above a 55mph speed limit
How to Keep Track of Your Points
Although law enforcement officials are not required to keep you updated on the amount of points that you have accumulated, you are entitled to this information. To find out how many points you have, you can simply order a driving report from the DMV. A driving report will cost $8 for your non-certified record with a partial driving history, or $11 for the certified record with a complete driving history.
Points are an important part of the responsibilities that come with driving, and it is important for drivers to remember to keep track of how many points they are accumulating. While the point system is a handy way for North Carolina—and drivers themselves—to track traffic offences, it can also have unpleasant consequences, such as the suspension of your driver’s license.
Traffic infractions may seem like no big deal at the time when a citation is issued, but since they could result in your license being taken away, it is important for you to take them seriously. Because it can be so difficult to keep track of your own points, license suspensions as a result of accumulated points can sometimes come as a shock. If you have been charged with a crime related to your license points, or if you’re facing license suspension as a result of accumulated points, fight back. Contact a knowledgeable North Carolina traffic lawyer today.
About the Author
Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.