Points on Your Driver's License Have Consequences
Reckless driving often results in catastrophic auto accidents that can lead to severe injuries, steep medical bills, and long-term pain and suffering. To dissuade drivers from causing disastrous consequences, the United States adopted a driver's license points system to discourage drivers from negligent driving behavior, such as speeding, drunk driving, and distracted driving. You can receive Florida license points for negligent behaviors that can go toward a license suspension.
In many aspects of life, collecting points can be a positive. When it comes to your driver's license, this is not the case. Here's why you don't want points on your Florida license.
The Basics of Driver's License Points
The license points system attempts to limit the amount of reckless behavior found on the road and, by extension, the number of car accidents. Each state monitors driving behavior and hands out punishment for traffic violations committed by its drivers.The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (the FLHSMV) is responsible for keeping track of point violations. They decide what infractions will result in points and how those points will affect a driver's privilege to stay on the road. Points on your license can come from minor traffic violations (such as speeding) or major incidents, like leaving the scene of an accident or DUI.
Traffic Violations That Result in Points on Your Driver's License
Traffic violations add points to your license, which can lead to a license suspension if you accumulate enough. You may also receive a traffic ticket or even receive a court order to attend traffic school, should your violations be numerous or serious enough.
Common traffic violations, such as running a red light, speeding, or improper lane changes, don't all have the same number of points added to our license. The number of points put on your license increases based on the recklessness and possible danger of the driving behavior.
The following are some of the violations of traffic laws that can lead to points added to your driver's license in Florida:
- Non-moving violations—0 points
- Moving violations (non-speeding, no accident)—3 Points
- Speeding 15 mph or less over the posted speed—3 Points
- Littering—3 Points
- Violation of child restraint laws—3 Points
- Speeding more than 15 mph over the posted speed—4 Points
- Passing a stopped school bus—4 Points
- Moving violation (non-speeding) resulting in a crash—4 Points
- Reckless driving (criminal traffic violation)—4 Points
- Unlawful speed resulting in a crash—6 Points
- Leaving the scene of a crash with damage greater than $50—6 Points
Points collected can result in penalties designed to deter drivers from committing future infractions. The most common consequence of points is the suspension of your driver's license. The length of suspension depends on how many points you've collected on your license.
How Long Can Your Florida Driver's License Be Suspended For?
You can receive a potentially lengthy license suspension when you accumulate enough points on your Florida driver's license. How long you can lose your license depends on two factors:
- How many points did you accumulate?
- During what time period did you accumulate these points?
The FLHSMV has certain time and point benchmarks that determine what suspension you will receive for having too many points on your license. The following are what license suspensions you can receive for point accumulation:
- 12 Points in 12 months — suspension of 30 days
- 18 Points in 18 months — of 3 months
- 24 Points in 36 months — suspension of 1 year
Other Infractions That Can Cause Automatic Suspension
Collecting points on your license is not the only way for your license to receive a license suspension. Failure to follow certain laws can result in the automatic suspension of your license. The state considers these infractions severe enough to immediately and automatically suspend driving privileges.
The following are some of the infractions that can result in automatic license suspension:
- Failure to pay child support
- Drug or alcohol-related offenses
- Failure to pay traffic fines
- Street racing
License Point System for Teenage Drivers
For teen drivers, penalties are generally more severe. If a teen with a learner's permit receives any traffic infraction, they will have their learner's permit extended for one year or until they turn 18 years old.
Drivers under the age of 18 who hold a regular license also have a stricter standard for driving behavior. If they receive 6 points on their license within one year, their Class E license will be downgraded to a restricted license, which will be used for business purposes only (such as commuting to and from work and school). This restriction lasts for one year or until they reach 18 years of age.
If the teen driver earns any more points while their license is restricted, it will result in a restriction extension of 90 days per point. Teens may also have their license suspended for having a blood-alcohol level of 0.02% or more, for repeated unexcused absences from school, or for convictions related to the possession of tobacco or nicotine.
How Long Do Points Stay on Your License?
Any points you receive will stay on your driving record for three years, from the day you pay the fine until your citation clears the system. You can attempt to get points stricken from your license if you believe you did not commit the traffic infraction by fighting* the ticket to court.
If you decide to fight the ticket in court and are found guilty, the three years will start when you satisfy all court fines and requirements. More severe infractions could last between 5 and 10 years or longer.
How Driver's License Points in Florida Affect Your Insurance Premiums
One major effect points have on your license is a potentially higher insurance premium. The FLHSV will send any points and traffic violation data to your insurance company, so they have up-to-date information on the driving record of those that have purchased their insurance. Having points on your license can increase your insurance costs by over 50% for the period that those points remain on your license. That means a usual $400 a month for auto insurance could cost you $600 a month instead.
Most insurance companies won't raise your rate by 50% for your first violation with points. Generally, your first ticket will increase your premiums by an average of 18%. This may not seem like much, but that 18% increase is for every year the points stay on your record. For an insurance premium of $400 a month, a rise of 18% is an added $864 per year. That's $2,592 over a three-year period.
Reckless Driving and Your Insurance
When you're considered a high-risk driver by your insurance carrier, your rates increase because you are more likely to file a claim than someone who doesn't commit traffic infractions. If you receive a serious moving violation, like a DUI or DWI for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your car insurance rates can go up even higher. This is because insurance companies consider DUI to be an indicator of an extremely high-risk driver.
In some cases, your insurance may be immediately canceled or ineligible for renewal, leaving you with few options other than obtaining an expensive policy from a company that insures high-risk drivers.
Points on Your Driver's License Can Influence Your Car Accident Case
When you seek compensation for damages caused by a car accident, your license points will come up in the at-fault party's insurance company's evaluation of the accident. Points on your driver's license can potentially be a serious detriment to any injury claim or lawsuit you may try to file after a car accident. They prove that you have a history of reckless driving, which an insurance company can use to limit your settlement.
While the accident that caused your injuries may be the complete fault of another party, insurance companies can use your history of reckless driving to their advantage to try and paint you as potentially at fault. Insurance companies will use any means to reduce or deny your right to compensation for car accident injuries. An insurance company will take any opportunity to paint you as incredible or reckless to reduce your compensation and keep their profits up.
For example, suppose you have points on your license is because of an accident caused by speeding. You may face an uphill battle seeking compensation for an accident where you were sideswiped by another car but were speeding. Any auto accident involving reckless driving behavior you committed in the past can affect your settlement or award.
How to Get Points Off Your License
For some traffic violations, you may be able to take a state-approved basic driver improvement course to reduce points on your driving license. By taking one of these classes, you can not only remove points from your record, but you may also be able to hold on to your same insurance rate if the citation was not associated with an accident.
In Florida, you may only attend a defensive driving course for a point reduction once every 12 months and no more than five times in a ten-year period. If you hold a commercial driver's license (CDL) or have committed a criminal driving violation, you are not eligible for a driver improvement course in Florida.
Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Car Accident Claim
If you were involved in a car accident, the at-fault party's insurance company might use the points on your license to limit your potential compensation. An experienced car accident attorney can help you combat any attempts to limit your compensation to receive fair payment for medical bills, lost work, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Dolman Law is a Florida personal injury law firm in the Clearwater-St Pete-Tampa area that specializes in helping injured victims receive compensation for traumatic injuries. Our experienced auto accident lawyers can help you pursue compensation for damages by collecting evidence, proving liability, and negotiating with insurance companies. They can also help you limit the impact of your license points by establishing the auto wreck had nothing to do with your prior traffic conviction.If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent driver, call us today for a complimentary consultation and case evaluation with one of our experienced attorneys. Contact us for help with a car accident claim by calling us at 833-55-CRASH or leaving a message on our contact page.