How Does California Point System Work?

California Point System

The California driver point system is the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS). It is based on negligent driver points and includes warnings and sanctions against your driver’s license.

In California, the point system affects drivers 18 years or older. Drivers under 18 are only affected if they violate a provisional probation or suspension.

One Point per Conviction

Under the point system, the California DMV assigns one point to a driver’s record after a conviction for most offenses. Examples of such one-point offenses are speed violations with an overall speed of less than 100 mph and disobeying signs and signals.

More serious convictions are assigned two points. Such convictions are all specified in the vehicle code and include hit-and-run accidents, Reckless Driving, and Driving Under the Influence. See Article 3 Section 12810 in California Vehicle Code.

Commercial License holders are assessed a point count of 1.5 times the usual value. A two-point violation will result in three points on the driver’s record.

Traffic Convictions in Other States

Your driver record is also affected by traffic convictions in other states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada. DMV adds the same point count to your record as if the offense occurred in California. Other states report out-of-state collisions to the California DMV. These reports are reviewed to determine if the driver was responsible, had been drinking, was injured, etc.

Actions by the DMV

Level I (Warning Letter)

You will get a warning letter if your driver record shows:

  • 2 points within 12 months.
  • 4 points within 24 months.
  • 6 points within 36 months.

DMV also sends you a warning letter when they add a significant conviction to your driving record.

Level II (Notice of Intent to Suspend)

California DMV notifies you about an intent to suspend your driver’s license when any of the following occurs:

  • 3 points within 12 months.
  • 5 points within 24 months.
  • 7 points within 36 months.

You will also get a notice when a significant conviction is added to your driving record.

Before a suspension takes effect, you have the opportunity to defend yourself. You contact your local Driver Safety Office to schedule a formal hearing. In general, you need to do this within two weeks.

Level III (Probation/Suspension)

DMV will suspend your driving privilege, and you will receive an “Order of Probation/Suspension” when your record shows:

  • 4 points within 12 months.
  • 6 points within 24 months.
  • 8 points within 36 months.

Your one-year probation includes a six-month suspension, which runs concurrently. The action is effective 34 days from the date the order is mailed.

Level IV (Violation of NOTS Probation)

DMV will suspend your driving privilege and send a “NOTS Violation of Probation Order” when:

  • Any violation or collision occurs during a suspension.
  • A one-point or two-point violation or responsible collision occurs during probation.
  • Any Failure to Appear (FTA) or Failure to Pay (FTP) violation during the probation period.
  • A driver under the age of eighteen years violates provisional probation because of a responsible collision, an FTA or FTP, or any other reportable violation.

Learn more about California NOTS Program

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20 thoughts on “How Does California Point System Work?”

  1. is it true that if I have 12 points on my driver’s license record that I will not be able to get a driver’s license in california?

    • I am assuming that you have 12 points on your record in another state.

      States usually share DMV information. When you change your residency from one state to another points follow, if the two states have the same point system. Otherwise, points may be re-assessed on your new driver record according to the rules in your new state (California). In such a case, they will be based on the violation that you originally committed in the old state.

      So, it all depends! It is always best to contact a DMV office in California. They can explain the details regarding your specific case.

    • Depends.

      Most points for moving violations are removed after 39 months (3 years, 3 months). Points for more serious offenses, such as hit-and-run or a DUI, will stay on your record for 13 years.

  2. I received a one point violation for making a right on Red Light. Will my insurance go up if I don’t take the traffic safety course ?

  3. I got a speeding ticket in AZ but I live in CA obviously, how many points would that be on my record? I was going 27 over the limit.

    • Depends on what you mean. If you plead guilty, or you are found guilty by the court, a traffic violation may be recorded with the DMV and added to your record.

      If you only report a fender-bender (accident) to your insurance company it may affect your insurance premium.

      While insurance companies look at the DMV record, they also keep track of your claims. With many claims, you can expect the premium to go up. Your premium is based on many factors that companies don’t usually disclose.

  4. I have a class A driver license in California. I involved in a small accident in State of Wisconsin, police officer issued me a ticket with 2 points. How does it work to my California driver’s license? How many points assessed against me on CA points system if convert to CA points? In WI, accumulating 12 or more points within 12 consecutive months will be cause for suspending your driving privileges.

  5. My 16 3/4 age driver was stopped for 125/65. Cited for:
    *Reckless Driving – Misdemeanor
    *Excessive Speed – Infraction
    *Restricted License – Infraction

    what is worst case scenario?

  6. I received 3 traffic violations on the same ticket in CA
    – Unsafe Speed (30 miles over)
    – Fail to obey Red light/RT Turn
    – Sudden stop without signaling
    Will DMV add 1 point for each violation to my record?

  7. I am relocating from New Hampshire back to California, but have quite a few points in my record. Open roads with zero traffic are a problem for me. Anyway, if I move to California with 7 points in 18 months, will they deny me a license in California? Cold they give me one, but immediately suspend it?

    • Since the point value of convictions is different in the two states, you are unlikely to end up with an identical amount of points in California. A conviction in NH often carry a higher value than in CA. So it all depends on what the offenses were, when they occurred, and how DMV will translate each one of them. If your NH license is still valid, you will not be denied a CA license, and when your driving record is updated you will follow the CA process for suspensions. If applicable, CA DMV will also use your old CA driving record.

  8. I had two accidents in 2019 that were my fault, one on August 16th, the other on October 20th, for which I received a warning letter from CA DMV. Most recently, July 1st, I was involved in another accident that once again was my fault. How does the point system work with a situation such as this?

    • Depends on how many points there are on your record. In general, you get one point for each collision you are responsible for. My guess is that you got a warning letter for 2 points (2 accidents) in 2019. In 2021, you get another point and reach 3 points within 24 months. So, there should be no other consequences, unless there are other convictions. Make sure by checking your record with DMV!

  9. I have 3 ticket violations for speeding and they gave me 2 points for each one and it was only 15 miles over speed limit

    • In California, it is the overall speed that counts. If you are speeding at a speed greater than 100 mph, you get two points. If your speed is less than 100 mph, you get one point. Checkout out California Vehicle Code Article 3 Subdivision (d) of Section 22348 (which points to Section 22348).


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