October 26, 2015

Moving Violations in the U.S.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website, “Most states (but not all) operate a points system to track dangerous or careless drivers. DMV.org explains the points system in your state, and how to track the points against your driving record. Accumulating points on your driving record is costly. Your insurance premiums will go up, and after a specific number of points, your license can be suspended or revoked; to get your license reinstated you will pay hundreds of dollars in fines and fees.”

States without point systems include Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wyoming. States have the power to create and maintain their own point and fines system. How points are tracked vary per state. Each state would have its own rules regarding how many points a driver can amass before their license is suspended and for how long. To understand details about a specific state, it’s best to visit the DMV website and download the specific state’s driver’s manual. Let’s look at a few examples:

California:
Points ranging from zero to three are assigned based on the severity of an offense. Licenses will be suspended for six months and drivers will be on probation for a year if so many points are noted:
  • Four points in 12 months
  • Six points in 24 months
  • Eight points in 36 months
Depending on the type of violation, points can remain on the license for 3 to 55 years.

Fees can range from several hundred to thousands of dollars, especially if legal fees are applied for traffic court violations. There are also yearly fines for license holders with 6 points or more on their license. Fines start at $100 for 6 points and $75 for each additional point (for three years). Note that car insurance premiums can also rise as noted in the particular policy held by the driver as well.

California also has high surcharges on tickets. For instance, a $35 ticket could cost more than $150 once surcharges are applied.

New York:
Points ranging from 3 to 11 are assigned based on severity of offense. If you receive 6 or more points on your New York State driving record in 18 months, you must pay a Driver Responsibility Assessment fee. While points from other states do not impact New York State licenses, points amassed in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario do.

Fees can range from several hundred to thousands of dollars, especially if legal fees are applied for traffic court violations. There are also yearly fines for license holders with 6 points or more on their license. Fines start at $100 for 6 points and $75 for each additional point (for three years). Note that car insurance premiums can also rise as noted in the particular policy held by the driver as well.

Texas:
According to the DMV website, compared to other states with point programs, Texas has a relatively low point count before heavy penalties start kicking in―just 6 points in 3 years.

Points are assessed on the following
  • A single moving violation is 2 points.
  • A moving violation resulting in an accident is 3 points.
Fees can range from several hundred to thousands of dollars, especially if legal fees are applied for traffic court violations. There are also yearly fines for license holders with 6 points or more on their license. Fines start at $100 for 6 points and $25 for each additional point. Note that car insurance premiums can also rise as noted in the particular policy held by the driver as well.

Tips on how to behave when a police pulls you over while driving. 

10 Common violations and possible penalties. (Keep in mind these vary per state.)
  1. Reckless driving (harming property or people)
  2. Speeding (fines and points vary based on miles per hour clocked over posted speed limit)
  3. Tailgating (following too closely)
  4. Alcohol in Blood
  5. Hit and run
  6. Passing a school bus with red lights flashing
  7. Not stopping at a red light or a stop sign
  8. Not signaling/unsafe lane change
  9. Not using seat belts
  10. Driving on shoulder
Fines can range from $35 to more than $2500 based on the infraction and the state. Note that some penalties in some states can be reduced when drivers complete particular courses.

What about violations that happen out of state?
Note that violations which happen out of state may or may not be counted on your license. It depends on the driver’s state license and their rules and policies.

How do drivers pay fines?
Fines can be paid online, in person, by mail or over the phone.
  • Online – credit or debit card. Bank transfers are not common
  • In person – credit or debit card, cash, check, money order
  • Mail – check or money order
  • Phone – credit card (debit card transactions over the phone may not be common)
Note that each state or county’s DMV may not allow all types of payments mentioned above. Often money orders are preferred over checks because the funds are guaranteed and no check bouncing fees would be assessed. Though money orders can be used for in person payments, often cash is preferred for ease. The exception to this is if there are after hours drop boxes- in this case, money orders would be preferred for safety reasons.


Sources:
DMV Point System 
Worst states for speeding
Driver’s Manual reference for each state



Note: This post is for informational purposes only. Refer to the most current Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website for your state of residence for the most current laws, fines, points schedule, penalties and related information. If you are facing legal problems regarding anything in this post, consult an attorney. This post is not meant to be used in place of legal counsel. The author of this post is not a lawyer or attorney. Contact the appropriate legal professional in your area for your legal consultation needs.

Jennifer Kumar, author of this post is a cross-cultural business consultant providing offshore team members with tools to successfully relocate to the U.S. For more about our training programs or contact us.


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Photo credits:
Police Car: Josh Beasley at flickr

School Bus: Let ideas complete at flickr

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