Written by attorney Luke Joseph Nichols

How Does the Virginia DMV Demerit Point System Work?

When you get your Virginia driver’s license you enter the world new and fresh. Unless you have some recent tickets in Virginia prior to getting your Va license you begin with 0 points.

How do I get more “good" points?

Each year, no matter what you do you get +1 point added to your record until you reach a maximum of +5 points. At +5 you max out, you have a “perfect record". Every two years you can voluntarily take a Virginia Driving Improvement course and get +5 points added to your point balance.

How Do I Lose Points (Demerit Points)?

Virginia judges cannot alter the demerit points; they do that in Maryland but not in Virginia. Each time you get convicted of a moving violation you lose points. There are only four point outcomes for a Virginia traffic offense: 0,-3,-4, or -6 points depending on the violation.

20+mph speeding tickets, reckless driving, DUI, driving on a suspended license all cost you 6 points. 10-19mph speeding is 4 points and failure to obey a highway sign and improper driving is 3 points. The DMV assigns demerit points automatically. Usually a point conviction will appear 15 – 30 days after your conviction in General District Court.

What is a Good Record, What is a Bad Record?

In Virginia, +5 is a perfect record. However, there is no limit to how bad a record can get. The worst I have ever seen was -45. However most drivers have between +3 to -2 (or about one minor ticket every few years). -10 or lower is generally considered a bad record. -15 or lower will likely braise eyebrows

Why Are My DMV Points Important?

In Virginia, your DMV points are important for two reasons: 1) If you go to traffic court or get pulled over your point balance will influence how the judges and police officer’s deal with you. Good drivers get more breaks than bad drivers, and your point balance says whether you are a good or a bad driver. 2) If you accrued too many demerit points (lose too many points) too quickly then the Virginia DMV will place you on probation or suspended your license.

Juveniles are placed on probation after a single point violation, driver’s ages 18-21 will have to take a class after a single point violation. Adult drivers (anyone over 18) will be placed on probation if they accrue more than 12 points in 12 months or 18 points in 24 months.

The DMV calculates the 12 or 24 month period from the offense date not the conviction date and your annual +1 point or the +5 Driving Improvement points do not alter the calculation. The DMV only cares how many points you lost (not how many you have or how many you received).

Do Points Affect My Insurance?

No. Traffic tickets affect your insurance not the points. The insurance companies have their own methods of quantifying how serious a traffic ticket is. The points are irrelevant. Virginia DMV points are not based on the likelihood of you getting into an accident. However, you can take a DMV driving improvement class for the purpose of lowering your insurance programs. Contact your insurance provider and a DMV Driving Improvement Class for details.

How Does Virginia DMV Points Affect an Out-of-State License?

Virginia DMV points do not affect out of state driver’s point balances unless they decide to switch to a Virginia driver’s license. If you are from Maryland , DC or any other state and you get a ticket in Virginia, Virginia can only report your offense to your home state. It is up to your home state to determine if to assign points to your offense. If you home state does decide to assign points to your offense, your home state will decide how many points to assign to the offense.

What Can I Do About a Traffic Ticket If I Can’t Lose Any More Points?

Hire a good traffic attorney. By having your charged dismissed or amended you can avoid negative affects to your DMV points. For example, having a charge amended to an obscure county or city traffic code can help avoid triggering demerit points. If you can’t afford any more points, contact a traffic attorney today.

Where Can I Find More Information about Virginia DMV Demerit Points?

To learn how many demerit points come with a particular offense go to

To learn more about DMV probation, DMV control periods and DMV demerit point suspensions go to

To learn more about DMV Driver Improvement Courses go to

To find an excellent Virginia traffic attorney go to

Luke J. Nichols

Nichols & Green PLLC

(703) 383-9222

[email protected]

10617 Jones Street, Suite 101B

Fairfax, Va 22030

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