virginia dmv driving points system

Virginia DMV Safe Driving Points System

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) operates a demerit points system to encourage safe driving and to penalize traffic violations. When you first get a driver’s license in Virginia you start with zero points. Every full calendar year you do not receive a ticket, you receive one positive point for a maximum of +5 points. Here’s how the system works:

1. Demerit Points

  • Points Assigned for Violations: When you are convicted of a moving violation in Virginia, demerit points are assigned to your driving record. The number of points depends on the severity of the offense.
    • 0-Point Violations: Non-moving violations such as Defective Equipment or Sleeping on the Highway.
    • 3-Point Violations: Minor offenses like speeding 1-9 mph above the speed limit, improper passing, improper driving or failure to obey a highway sign.
    • 4-Point Violations: More serious offenses such as speeding 10-19 mph above the speed limit, failure to yield right-of-way, running a red light or following too closely.
    • 6-Point Violations: Major offenses, that are mostly misdemeanors, like reckless driving, DUI, driving on a suspended license, or failing to stop at the scene of a crash.

2. Accumulation of Points

  • Point Accumulation: Points accumulate on your driving record when you are convicted of traffic violations. Each conviction stays on your record for years from the date of the offense. The duration of the offense staying on your record depends on the offense.

3. Consequences of Points

  • Adverse Effects: Accumulating too many demerit points can result in consequences such as:
    • License Suspension: The DMV may suspend your driver’s license if you accumulate too many points within a specific period.
    • Driver Improvement Clinic: You may be required to attend a driver improvement clinic to learn safer driving practices and reduce points on your record.
    • Insurance Rates: High points on your driving record can lead to increased insurance premiums.
  • Negative Points on Driving Record: Not only do negative points affect insurance, it also negatively impacts how you are viewed as a driver.
    • Officers Don’t Give “Passes”/”Warnings” to Those with a Negative Driving Record: One of the first things an officer sees when a person is pulled over is a person’s points balance on the driving record. A +5 driver, with a perfect record, has a much better chance of an officer “warning” than a person with prior moving violations and a -3 record.
    • Makes it Difficult to Drive for a Living: Companies tend to not employ people with negative driving records because it creates a liability for them. This includes companies such as Uber, DoorDash and all CDL companies.

4. Points Thresholds and Penalties

  • 8 Points in 12 Months or 12 Points in 24 Months: You will receive an advisory letter from the DMV urging you to improve your driving.
  • 12 Demerit Points in 12 months (or 18 Points in 24 Months): You will be required to complete a driver improvement clinic within 90 days. Failure to do so will result in the suspension of your driving privileges.
  • 18 Demerit Points in 12 months (or 24 Points in 24 Months): Your driving privilege will be suspended for 90 days. Additionally, you must complete a driver improvement clinic before your privilege will be restored. Once your privilege is restored, you will be placed on a six-month probation period.
  • Multiple Suspensions: Repeated accumulation of points resulting in license suspensions can lead to longer suspension periods and more stringent requirements for reinstatement.

5. Positive Points for Safe Driving

  • Safe Driving Points: For each full calendar year that you hold a valid Virginia driver’s license without any violations or suspensions, you earn one safe driving point. You can accumulate up to five safe driving points.
    • Benefits: These points can offset demerit points on your record, helping to mitigate the impact of any violations.

6. Driver Improvement Clinics

  • Voluntary Attendance: You can voluntarily attend an 8-hour DMV-approved driver improvement clinic to earn five safe driving points. This can help reduce the negative impact of demerit points on your record.
  • You can attend a Driver Improvement Clinic Once Every 2 Years for +5 Points
  • Aggressive Driving Course: In addition to the 8-hour driver improvement course for points, you can also attend a 4 hour aggressive driving course to further improve your driving skills and education.

7. Checking Your Points

  • Driving Record: You can check the number of demerit points on your driving record by visiting the Virginia DMV website or requesting a copy of your driving record. The DMV’s website is Be aware that there are companies that over charge for this service and are not official. Make sure you go directly to the Virginia DMV website.

Understanding how the demerit points system works can help you maintain a clean driving record, avoid penalties, and practice safe driving habits.