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The DMV Demerit Point System Explained

What are DMV Demerit Points?

Demerit points are assigned by the DMV whenever you are convicted of a traffic violation. The demerit points you receive for each conviction remain on your record for two years from the day that you commit the offense. These points add up, meaning that each time you commit a traffic offense, the DMV adds additional points to your record. Different violations coincide with a different number of points, depending on the severity of the offense. Every Virginia driver starts with zero points on their driving records, and receives one positive point a year for each year of good driving. Participating in a driver improvement clinic can earn someone five positive points. A driver can accrue a maximum of five positive points.


Only Virginia-licensed drivers and residents are subject to Virginia’s Uniform Demerit Point System. Therefore, an individual with an out-of-state license convicted of a traffic violation in Virginia would be subject to the demerit point system in the state that they hold their driver’s license.

Different Offenses and Their Point Assignments

There are three categories of negative point violations: three, four, and six demerit point violations.


Three-point violations include speeding (1-9 mph over the posted speed limit), improper passing/driving, improper turning/backing, signs/signals, lights, licenses/permits, commercial motor vehicles, and other violations. The convictions associated with these violations typically stay on a driving record for 3-5 years.


Four-point violations cover reckless driving/speeding (anywhere from 10-19 mph above the posted speed limit), improper passing, improper stopping/yielding, failure of keeping to the right, improper following/signaling, violations associated with railroad crossings (including when driving a commercial motor vehicle), and other violations. The majority of these offenses stay on a driving record for 3-5 years, but a few of the more severe offenses can cause the conviction to stay on a record for 11 years.


Six-point violations are among the most severe traffic violations. These include reckless driving (felony or misdemeanor), driving under the influence, manslaughter, habitual offenders, violations associated with licenses/permits, commercial motor vehicles, and other violations. Most of these convictions remain on a driving record for 11 years, but some have the potential to remain permanently.

What Happens When You Accrue Too Many Negative Demerit Points?

There is no limit to the number of negative points a person can accumulate. However, someone who accumulates negative twelve demerit points in a twelve consecutive month period or negative twenty-four demerit points in an eighteen-month consecutive period will be placed on probation. The period of probation lasts 6 months. If someone is convicted of a demerit point violation during their probationary period, they will have their license suspended for 90 days (six-point violation), sixty days (four-point violation), or forty-five days (three-point violation). It is possible to petition the Virginia DMV for a restricted driver’s license after being suspended on probation if the person is eligible.


A person who successfully completes their probationary period with no demerit point violations will be placed on an eighteen-month control period. If a driver receives a demerit point violation during the control period, they will be placed on another six-month probationary period. Subsequently violating probation will extend it by another six months.

How We Can Help

The Pickett Law Group, PLLC is an experienced law firm with two generations of former prosecutors, who have fought from both sides of the courtroom on all types of legal issues. Our experienced attorneys can advise you to avoid the accumulation of demerit points from various traffic violations in Virginia. Contact us today and we will begin fighting on your behalf.

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