The Virginia Point System
The Virginia Point System is a constant thorn in the side of both Drivers and Driving Schools, mostly because no one seems to understand it and the explanation is multifaceted and confusing to most people. It isn’t actually that complicated. There are some differences in the system based on age, but otherwise, it actually does make sense if you take a few minutes to understand it properly. One important thing to note for all drivers, the tickets you receive out of state, WILL transfer to your Virginia driving record.
Everyone in Virginia starts with 0 points, but no one tells you this. Every year that you drive and don’t receive a moving violation, you get +1. You can reach a maximum of +5 on your driver’s license. Each infraction that you are convicted of costs you points. A regular speeding ticket (10-19 mph above the posted limit) is a 4 point violation. If you have 0 points on your driving record and you get a general speeding ticket, then you have -4 point balance. If you have +5 point balance, you will then have 1 point on your license, etc..
A regular, 4 point speeding ticket will remain on your driving record for 5 years. It’s similar to getting a ‘D’ during your first year in school. Even if you get straight A’s for every class after, the ‘D’ will remain on your transcript. Look here to see how long tickets will remain on your license. However, the points can be recuperated.
That’s where we come in. Every 2 years, you can take the Driver Improvement Course. If you are over the age of 20, you can even take the course Online and receive +5 good points. If you do this voluntarily, you receive +5 Points, the maximum amount of points allowed. Again, no one seems too bothered to tell you this when you get your license.
So while +5 is the maximum number of positive points you can have, the maximum amount of negative points doesn’t seem to exist. Don’t get us wrong, the DMV is going to suspend your license if you can’t keep the number on the positive side for too long. Before they do that though, they’re going to send you a letter ordering you to take the Driver Improvement Course. When you are ordered by the DMV to do the course, you may or may not get +5 good points. The DMV makes these decisions, they’re out of our hands.
- The DMV will definitely send you a letter if you reach -12 points. The letter will give you 90 days to complete the class. You could get the letter before -12 points. This usually happens when you get too many tickets in one calendar year.
You will get a warning letter from DMV if:
- You accumulate 12 demerit points in 12 months
- You accumulate 18 demerit points in 24 months
- Your driving point balance is -12 (check your driving record)
We need to double check the Guinness World Book of Records, but after doing a few thousand DIP courses over the past 20+ years here at AA Driving Academy, we may have had some contenders working for the “Worst Driving Record” title. True story, we have seen driving records with a whopping -45 and even -52 point balances!! At that point, maybe they should’ve been issued a bus pass for life. However, over several years of not accruing tickets (since they were not able to drive), these students regained +1 point back every year, 2yrs after each ticket they previously received, they regained those points that they lost and doing the 8hr DIP course every 2yrs for the +5 points, allowed them to get back to 0 on their point balances. I guess some miracles do happen!
The points system is the same for teenagers, with a few minor adjustments. If a driver receives any point infraction while under the age of 20, they are required by law to take the Driver Improvement Course in person. They are not permitted to take the online option. This is a matter of law, it is not a DMV or Driving School policy. The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia has decided that all teen drivers must take the classroom course if they receive any point violation and they DO NOT receive the +5 points. Teens can only receive +5 points if they take the in classroom Driver Improvement Course as a volunteer.
Remember: The tickets you receive out of state, WILL transfer to your Virginia driving record. We get MANY teens who get tickets out of state when their away at college. They don’t show up to traffic court, pre-pay the ticket, and within 30 days, it will hit their driving record, thus alerting the DMV that you then need to take the 8hr DIP course.
PROTIP: TEENS CAN TAKE THE CLASS AS A VOLUNTEER AFTER TAKING IT FOR THE DMV AND GET +5 POINTS
Ignoring A DMV Letter
Your license will be suspended at midnight on the date given to you on the DMV letter. This is done by a computer system. The DMV gives you 90 Days to do the Driver Improvement Course and correct your point situation. To get your license back after it’s been suspended, you will have to take the course anyway, and you will pay a fine to the DMV.
Insurance & The Point System
The point system has a direct effect on your car insurance. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, car insurance is mandatory, unless you pay a $500 uninsured motorist fee. Most people do have car insurance and the insurance company will closely monitor the points of your license to assess your payment. You will be charged more if your points remain in the negative. On the other hand, your payment can be substantially lower if you remain in the positive. Many people attend our Driver Improvement Course specifically to lower their insurance rates. By attending every 2 years, they keep their points positive and send a copy of their certificate to their insurance provider to have their monthly rate adjusted to a lower price.
The Driver Improvement Course
Helpful Links About the Point System
- Moving Violations and Point Assessments
- The Points System
- Moving Violations and Point Assessments (Pamphlet in PDF)
- Check your Driving Record