The state Department of Motor Vehicles has put in place in the state of Virginia point system to assess motorists and punish drivers with dangerous driving habits. This system is known as DMV Point Assessments for Moving Violations, and licensees will be given a certain number of demerit points on their driving records if they’re sentenced with various driving offenses.
In the state of Virginia, if your driver’s license gets suspended, you are required to pay costly fees, appear in court, and in some cases enroll in a driver’s improvement program. You need an experienced attorney to help you fight traffic offenses. At Virginia Criminal Attorney, we have a team of attorneys that will successfully argue in your defense. We serve clients in Fairfax and the entire Northern Virginia area.
What is Virginia’s DMV Point Assessment for Moving Violations?
Every time you commit a traffic offense, a predetermined number of negative points will be put on your driving record. If these demerit points accrue, your driving privileges may be suspended or revoked. Driving license suspension will depend on:
- Your age;
- The nature of the offense; and
- The number of demerit points you get within a specific period of time.
For adult drivers, the number of demerit points received within a given period of time will determine whether or not their license will be suspended. Your license will be suspended if you assemble 12 points within 12 months or 18 points within 24 months. For both accumulations, to avoid your license being suspended, you must attend a driver improvement clinic within 90 days.
You may also receive an automatic license suspension if you accumulate 18 points within 12 months or 24 points within 24 months. Your license will be suspended for 90 days for either of the accumulated points. You will also be required to complete a driver improvement clinic to reinstate your license.
For drivers who are 18 or 19 years old, for any demerit point violation received, they will be required to attend a driver improvement clinic. Failure to attend the clinic will result to license suspension or other penalties.
For new drivers below 18 years old, traffic offenses carry more serious sentences. Drivers in this age category must complete a driver improvement clinic within 90 days to prevent their licenses from being suspended if they:
- Are found guilty of any demerit point violation despite the type or point tally, or
- Perpetrate a safety belt violation or are found guilty of a child safety restraint offense.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle will automatically suspend your license if you get:
- Two convictions for any point violation when you are younger than 18 years old - your license is suspended for 90 days.
- Three convictions for any point violation - your license is suspended for one year or until you turn 18 years old.
How Virginia’s DMV Point System Works and How to Get Points Off Your License
In Virginia, traffic violations that result in infraction points are classified based on the number of points assessed for each misdemeanor. The violation points will be put against the offender’s report for offenses violated out of state as well. Besides VA points on the driver’s license history, more serious infringements that may lead to other penalties may include paying large fines. Below are detailed information about the DMV system in Virginia and how to get points off your license;
- Moving Violations and Points in Virginia
In Virginia, traffic offenses and moving violation points are arranged into groups of three, four, and six points. More serious offenses like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and reckless driving attract a large number of negative points.
Traffic violations are classified based on the amount of DMV demerit points allocated to each violation. The Department of Motor Vehicle will also post on your records traffic infractions that do not bear demerit points.
If you are convicted of reckless driving, you get six reckless driving points on your driving report. This includes driving on parking lots, racing, driving too fast, and more. You’ll receive the same number of DUI points if found guilty of a DUI related offense. The lists below show the penalty points and traffic violations related to the points:
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Speeding in excess of 20 miles per hour or more
- Habitual traffic offenders
- Driving on a suspended or revoked license or permits
- Driving commercial vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs while disqualified, refusing to submit to a blood or breath test while driving a commercial vehicle, and violating an out of service order for your vehicle
- Failing to stop at the scene of a crash (hit and run)
- Attempting to elude the police
- Operating an unsafe vehicle
- Blocking access to a service facility
- Emergency vehicle violation that results in death
- Following another vehicle too closely
- Failure to yield right of way, yield when turning left, and yield to a funeral procession
- Failure to stop before entering a highway and for pedestrians
- Speeding up to 19 miles per hour over the set limit
- Passing when unsafe or to the left of an approaching vehicle
- Failure to drive on right half of highway or street or failure to keep to the right when crossing an intersection
- Driving to the left of a rotary traffic island
- Improper signaling
- Failure to signal before moving from curb
- Failure to obey railroad crossing signals
- Aggressive driving
- Disregarding police officer’s signal to stop
- Speeding up to 9 miles per hour over the set limit
- Impeding traffic or slow speed
- Texting while driving in a non-commercial vehicle
- Curfew violation
- Passenger restriction violation
- Improper driving
- Driving while using earphones
- Driving with TV screen visible to the driver
- Following or parking within 500 feet of fire apparatus
- Failure to leave the scene of a crash at the direction of an officer
- Failure to report a crash or unattended property that is less than $250 damage
- Penalties in Virginia
Motorists who violate road rules and regulations are liable to strict traffic violation retributions and they are required to meet certain court-imposed or DMV criteria to avoid more penalties. Traffic ticket penalty in Virginia includes demerit points on the motorist’s report, possible suspension of driving privileges where applicable, and an obligation to complete a driver improvement clinic if needed. Besides administrative charges, DUI punishments for motorists convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will result in court-imposed penalties. For example, in Virginia the DUI penalties for motorists under 21 years old found guilty will include:
- Minimum 50 hours of community service
- One-year license suspension
- A minimum fine of $500
DUI penalties for adult motorists and frequent offenders may be more severe.
In Virginia, the traffic ticket punishment for accruing 18 negative points in one year or 24 points within two years is a 90-day license suspension and obligatory completion of a driver improvement clinic.
- Disputing a Virginia Moving Violation Charge
After receiving a traffic offense ticket from the police, the first thing you should do is to find out if you are charged with a criminal offense because a criminal traffic offense goes both to your driving and criminal records.
Your attorney should advise you on the steps to take if you decide to fight a traffic ticket instead of paying the set surcharges and fines. If you are disputing a speeding ticket or any other offense, you are supposed to enter a “not guilty” plea to the court by requesting a hearing before a jury or judge.
- How You Can Fix a Virginia Driving Record
You’ll be required to display good driving behavior in Virginia in order to clear your driving record and avoid strict penalties as a result of unsafe driving habits. For every conviction-free calendar year, you get assigned safe driving points. The points may be used to redeem the accumulated violation points on your report. The total number of Virginia safe driving points you can collect is five.
If you enroll into a state-approved driver improvement course, you may become eligible to earn safe driving points and you also qualify for dismissal of your charges. The option to dismiss your ticket after completing the course will depend on the court dealing with your case. The completion of a Virginia driving safety course may be imposed as a mandatory court or DMV requirement after certain violations. Before the Department of Motor Vehicles can award you safe points, you have to present documentation from the court to the driver improvement clinic that you attend. If the clinic does not receive this documentation, you will not be awarded safe points.
Moving Violations and the Point Assessment Process
When you violate traffic rules and you get convicted, the court will notify the Department of Motor Vehicles which will do the following:
- Post the conviction on your driving records
- Allocate you demerit points depending on the seriousness of your offense
- Issue a suspension order where applicable
- Order you to successfully complete a driver improvement client where applicable
- Notify your insurance company where need be
What are Demerit and Safe Points?
These are points allocated by the DMV if you are convicted of violating traffic rules. These points will stay on your records for 24 months from the date you committed the offense, and they increase with subsequent convictions. An accumulation of these points can cause problems for some drivers. For instance, a judge may use these points to determine the length of your subsequent sentences, or even the DMV may suspend your license longer after assessing the accumulated demerit points.
On the other hand, you receive one safe driving point for each full calendar year that you hold a valid Virginia driver’s license and drive without getting convicted with a traffic offense. The maximum accumulated number of safe points a driver can get is five. Annual safe driving points for the previous year are awarded in April of each year. You may also get five safe points by completing a driver improvement clinic. These points may be used as a cushion against future traffic tickets. For example, if you have five safe driving points and you receive a ticket for an offense carrying three demerit points, you’ll have two safe points left, contrary to three demerits points added on your records.
Duration of the Conviction on Your Records
The Department of Motor Vehicles demerit points will show on your records for two years from the date of your violation. The dates that demerit points are withdrawn from your driving records are not connected to the dates that convictions are removed from your record.
Convictions last on your driving records for longer periods depending on the severity. For example, if you get convicted of DUI, it stays on your driving records for 11 years. However, if you are presented with an order or notice of revocation, suspension, cancellation, or disqualification, your sentences could remain on your record for longer.
Driver Improvement Program
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has developed a crash course to reduce the odds of getting involved in a car crash. The Driver Improvement Program, also referred to as the defensive driving course, is a program offered by the state to help drivers avoid license suspension. It also rewards drivers who drive safely and potentially warns those who don’t drive safely in advance. This assists in educating drivers that might have acquired perilous driving practices. It also keeps risky drivers off the road.
Reasons for attending a Driver Improvement Course or Clinic include:
- A requirement by the court for the driver to attend and complete the course
- The driver might attend the program voluntarily
- Drivers may be required by the Department of Motor Vehicles to attend the course
- Drivers that have completed the program may receive an insurance premium discount, but the insurance company has to verify their eligibility for such premiums
- A requirement by the court for a commercial driver to undertake a commercial vehicle operator’s clinic
- A requirement by the Department of Motor Vehicles for a commercial driver to attend a commercial vehicle operator’s clinic
- The commercial driver may voluntarily complete a commercial vehicle operator’s clinic
- For drivers to earn safe driving points
- To improve your driving habits
- To reduce your car insurance rates
- In order for your traffic ticket to be dismissed
The requirements for registering for this program are:
- Providing a photo identification issued by the government,
- Letting the clinic provider know the reason why you’re attending the clinic, and
- If the court requires you to attend a driver improvement clinic and it has determined that you are to be awarded safe driving points, you must present the documentation to the clinic.
Driver improvement clinics are required to electronically report clinic completion information to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 24 hours.
Do Points Affect My Insurance?
Drivers who take active steps to improve their driving skills and safe driving behaviors often get car insurance discounts because safer driving leads to fewer claims. Older drivers often get a discount for defensive driving training whereas young drivers can save money by completing an approved driver training or driver’s education course.
While the requirements and restrictions for car insurance discounts vary depending on the insurance company and state, the following are the general standards:
- You can only apply one defensive driving discount per car,
- You can only take a defensive driving class for a discount once every several years, and
- You must complete an approved defensive driving course with a passing grade to get the discount.
If you are required to take a defensive driving course by the court or if you are required to file an SR-22, you may not be eligible for this discount.
Besides discounts for completing a defensive driving course, other companies also offer auto insurance discounts to drivers who consistently practice safe driving skills in the form of a good driver or an accident-free discount.
Reinstating a Suspended License due to Moving Violations
When your driver’s license gets suspended in Virginia, you must comply with the state laws and regulations to restore your driving privileges. Driver's license suspension in Virginia may occur as a result of various circumstances like making a false statement to the Department of Motor Vehicles, failure to pay for gasoline, committing a felony that involves a motor vehicle, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Failure to abide by the terms of your license suspension may lead to imprisonment and permanent revocation of your license. You have to obey all the requirements set by the Virginia court system in order to legally operate motor vehicles on state roads after a license suspension.
Contacting a Virginia Traffic Attorney Near Me
Disputing a traffic ticket in Virginia is a complex process. If found guilty of violating traffic laws, be prepared to face penalties as a result of your violations. You might consider hiring an attorney who is experienced in DMV Point Assessments for Moving Violations to represent you in court or the DMV. Virginia Criminal Attorney is available to defend you against any traffic-related offense throughout Fairfax and Northern Virginia. Give us a call today at 703-718-5533 and we will help you handle your situation.