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How do points on your license affect your insurance?

Points on your license can make your car insurance more expensive, but only because car insurance companies are looking at your driving record, not because of the points themselves.

Andrew HurstRachael Brennan headshot

By

Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

&Rachael Brennan

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

Edited byAnna Swartz

Anna Swartz

Senior Managing Editor & Auto Insurance Expert

Anna Swartz is a senior managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.

Updated|6 min read

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Car insurance companies don’t care about the number of points you get on your license, but they do care about any accidents or violations on your driving record. So if you have points on your license from a DUI or an accident, that’s what will raise your car insurance rates, not the actual number of points.

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That means it’s safe to assume that it will be harder to find cheap insurance if you’ve gotten a lot of points on your license. That said, not all companies treat driving violations the same way, and some violations may not affect your rates as much as others.

Key takeaways

  • The number of points on your license doesn’t directly affect your insurance costs, but the violations on your record do.

  • States don’t always assign points for DUIs, crashes, and other serious incidents that can still affect what you pay for car insurance.

  • Points don’t affect your insurance rates, but having too many points on your license can result in your driving privileges being taken away.

What are points on your license?

Drivers license points are values that a state DMV or equivalent agency assigns to drivers after a driving violation, like speeding, reckless driving, racing, and more. States set their own point values, but most of the time you’ll get 1 to 6 points for a driving violation, depending on how severe it was.

Most states use point systems to make it easier to identify and penalize unsafe drivers. Not every state uses points, though. These are the nine states that don’t use point systems:

If you get too many points, you may lose your license altogether. You’ll also have to pay fines (and possibly get an SR-22 or similar proof of insurance) before you can get your license back.

Most of the time, points drop off your licenses after a few years. But more serious violations, like a DUI, will stay on your license longer. In some states, your record will always show the number of points you have, even decades after a violation.

How will points affect my insurance rates?

The points that your state’s DMV assigns to your license don’t directly affect your insurance rates. That’s because companies don’t figure the amount of points on your license into how much your insurance costs, but they do consider any violations or accidents on your record.

Your insurance rates are determined by a few factors, including your driving history. Things like tickets and other citations that result in license points also signal to insurance companies that your driving habits put you at a greater risk of being in an accident and having to make a claim.

So having more points probably means you’ll have higher car insurance rates, but only because having lots of points also means that you’re a higher risk driver than average.

It’s also possible to have points on your license and not necessarily pay higher car insurance rates. After a driving violation, your car insurance rates typically return to average after three to five years of safe driving. But in some states your points can stay on your record for life.

How points affect your insurance in different states

Points on your licenses don’t directly affect your insurance in any state. Some states don’t even assign points to certain violations, even DUIs. But driving violations (which usually result in you getting points on your license) do affect your insurance differently in every state. 

For example, in most states that use a points system, you’ll get 3 points if you commit a minor traffic violation like failing to stop at a red light.

But we found that running a red light raises rates by an average of anywhere from $180 to $594 per year — so even violations that lead to the same number of points can have different impacts on your insurance, depending on where you live.

Here’s a table that shows the license points by state across nine states that use a point system:

Violation

California

Florida

Georgia

Michigan

New Jersey

New York

North Carolina

Ohio

South Carolina

Driving with a suspended license

2

--

--

--

--

--

--

6

--

Driving with an open container

--

--

2

2

--

--

2

--

--

Driving with expired registration

2

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

--

Driving without Lights

1

--

--

3

--

2

2

2

2

DUI

2

--

3

4

--

--

--

6

--

Failure to stop at a red light

1

3

3

3

2

3

3

2

4

Failure to yield

1

3

3

3

2

3

3

2

4

Following too closely

1

--

3

3

--

2

4

2

4

Hit and Run

2

6

3

--

2

3

4

6

6

Illegal turn

1

4

3

3

3

2

2

2

4

Improper passing

1

4

3

3

4

3

4

--

4

Passing a school bus

1

4

6

--

--

5

5

--

6

Racing

2

4

3

4

5

--

3

6

--

Reckless Driving

2

4

4

6

5

5

4

--

6

Speeding Ticket

1

3

2-6

2-4

2-5

3-11

3

2

2-6

Driving violations listed alphabetically

And here’s the effect those same driving violations can have on your car insurance in each state. As you can see, the same point value doesn’t mean the same increase in car insurance.

Violation

CA

FL

GA

MI

NJ

NY

NC

OH

SC

Average car insurance rate

$1,937

$2,961

$1,760

$2,438

$2,304

$2,197

$1,019

$1,096

$1,964

Driving with a suspended license

+142%

+46%

+93%

+88%

+96%

+56%

+211%

+78%

+51%

Driving with an open container

+71%

+19%

+35%

+66%

+60%

+25%

+43%

+60%

+36%

Driving with expired registration

+41%

+17%

+15%

+17%

+27%

+5%

+42%

+28%

+23%

Driving without Lights

+37%

+16%

+18%

+19%

+26%

+8%

+42%

+27%

+20%

DUI

+172%

+42%

+97%

+163%

+86%

+70%

+347%

+79%

+45%

Failure to show documents

+41%

+17%

+15%

+17%

+27%

+5%

+37%

+28%

+23%

Failure to stop at a red light

+45%

+17%

+19%

+24%

+32%

+8%

+43%

+28%

+22%

Failure to yield

+45%

+17%

+19%

+22%

+32%

+8%

+43%

+28%

+24%

Following too closely

+45%

+17%

+19%

+34%

+44%

+8%

+58%

+28%

+24%

Hit and Run

+150%

+48%

+97%

+158%

+83%

+66%

+342%

+80%

+56%

Illegal turn

+45%

+17%

+19%

22+%

+33%

+8%

+43%

+28%

+24%

Improper passing

+45%

+16%

+19%

+39%

+40%

+8%

+57%

+29%

+25%

Passing a school bus

+47%

+15%

+42%

+38%

+46%

+9%

+95%

+31%

+25%

Racing

+160%

+42%

+74%

+134%

+90%

+42%

+371%

+80%

+52%

Reckless Driving

+161%

+49%

+74%

+155%

+85%

+42%

+95%

+76%

+53%

Speeding Ticket

+43%

+26%

+31%

+46%

+46%

+32%

+50%

+30%

+24%

Driving violations listed alphabetically

Instead of wondering how the points on your license will affect your insurance, you should compare rates when you shop for car insurance and find out which companies have the best rates for people with your driving history — regardless of the number of points you have.

How many points on your license is bad?

It’s not good to have any points on your license, but each state has different rules about how many points you can get before your license is suspended. In most states, your license will be suspended if you get 12 points in less than two years.

But each state has its own points system, so there are plenty of exceptions to this rule. For example, in Iowa your license will be suspended if you get 6 points in less than two years, but in Montana you’ll keep your license as long as you don’t rack up 15 points in less than three years.

State

Threshold

Alabama

12 points in 24 months

Alaska

12 points in 12 months

Arizona

8 points in 12 months

Arkansas

14 points

California

4 points in 12 months

Colorado

12 points in 12 months

Connecticut

10 points in 24 months

Delaware

14 points in 24 months

District of Columbia

10 points or more points

Florida

12 points in 12 months

Georgia

15 points in 24 months

Idaho

12 points in 12 months

Illinois

15 points in 12 months

Indiana

20 points in 24 months

Iowa

6 points in 24 months

Kentucky

12 points in 24 months

Maine

12 points in 12 months

Maryland

8 points in 24 months

Massachusetts

7 events in 36 months

Michigan

12 points in 24 months

Missouri

8 points in 18 months

Montana

15 points in 36 months

Nebraska

12 points in 24 months

Nevada

12 points in 12 months

New Hampshire

12 points in 12 months

New Jersey

12 points in 36 months

New Mexico

7 points in 12 months

New York

11 points in 18 months

North Carolina

12 points in 36 months

North Dakota

12 points

Ohio

12 points in 24 months

Oklahoma

10 points in 5 years

Pennsylvania

6 points, but depends on past record

South Carolina

12 points

South Dakota

15 points in 12 months

Tennessee

12 points in 12 months

Texas

8 points in 12 months

Utah

200 points in 36 months

Vermont

10 points in 12 months

Virginia

8 points in 12 months

West Virginia

12 points in 24 months

Wisconsin

12 points in 12 months

How long do points affect your insurance?

Points won’t directly affect your insurance for any amount of time, but the driving violation that caused you to get the points will. Usually, you’ll pay higher insurance premiums for between three and five years after a violation.

Points can stay on your license longer than your insurance will be affected. For example, in North Dakota points stay on your license until you attend a driving safety course. Since those points don’t automatically expire, it’s possible that they’ll stay on your record long after your rates return to average.

What happens when you get too many points?

When you get too many points your license will be suspended. Having your driving privileges taken away after receiving too many points can have a big affect on your insurance coverage.

When your license is suspended, you won’t be able to drive until you reinstate it. But you won’t be able to reinstate your license until you prove to your state that you’ve got a valid car insurance policy. Most of the time, you have to file an SR-22 in order to do this.

An SR-22 (or an FR-44 in some states) is a form that insurance companies file for high-risk drivers that proves they have car insurance coverage. Drivers who need an SR-22 are usually considered high-risk and will have to pay more for car insurance (plus a filing fee for the SR-22). 

→ Learn more about getting car insurance with a suspended license

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How to get cheaper insurance with points on your license

If you have points on your license, the best way to get cheaper car insurance is by switching companies to one that’s more affordable. Since companies all evaluate driving violations differently, it’s possible to find a great provider even if you have a spotty driving record.

You can also get cheaper insurance while still having points on your license by:

  • Taking a defensive or safe driving course: Most insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who complete an approved defensive driving course.

  • Bundling your car and home insurance: If you’re a homeowner, bundle policies with your car insurance provider and lower your rates, even with points on your license.

  • Avoiding future driving violations: Your rates will go down over time, as long as you don’t get any more tickets or citations for unsafe driving. The number of points you have will also go down.

If you’re concerned about the number of points on your driver’s license, you might be able to lower them through your state’s points reduction program. Usually, this involves taking a driving course that’s recognized by your state’s DMV.

While lowering the points on your driving license won’t lower your rates right away, it can help you avoid a suspended license and even more expensive insurance premiums.

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Frequently asked questions

Which states don’t use driver’s license points?

There are nine states where you won’t receive any driver’s license points after a violation: Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wyoming. Your rates will still go after a violation in these states, though.

How can I reduce points on my license?

Many times the best way to lower the number of points on your license is by waiting. After a period of time, usually around two years, some of your old points will fall off your license and you’ll be able to drive without worrying about having your license taken away.

Does my insurance company know about every ticket or driving violation?

Insurance companies will only check your driving record when it’s time to renew your coverage. That means you won’t see a change in your rates until the end of your insurance policy’s term. Because of this, you should wait until it’s time to renew before you switch insurance providers after a driving violation.

How can I find out how many license points are on my driving record?

The best way to check your driving record is to go on your state’s DMV website. With your driver’s license number and your personal information (name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number) you’ll be able to check your driving record online.

Methodology

Policygenius found the cost of insurance following a driving violation that results in points on a person’s license by analyzing quotes from Quadrant Information Services. Our sample driver for this analysis was  a 30-year-old male with a 2017 Toyota Camry, with the following limits:

  • Bodily injury liability: $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident

  • Property damage liability: $50,000 per accident

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist: $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident

  • Comprehensive: $500 deductible

  • Collision: $500 deductible

Some carriers may be represented by affiliates or subsidiaries. Rates provided are a sample of costs. Your actual quotes may differ.

Authors

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

gray linkedin icon link

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

gray linkedin icon link

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

Editor

Senior Managing Editor & Auto Insurance Expert

Anna Swartz

Senior Managing Editor & Auto Insurance Expert

gray twitter icon linkgray linkedin icon link

Anna Swartz is a senior managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.

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