Does California Have a License Points System?

In the United States, driving is considered a privilege. That privilege is granted to people who pass certain testing requirements and drive without endangering themselves or others. However, some states have enacted a points system designed to punish drivers who repeatedly break the law or endanger other people. California is one of these states. Points can accumulate on a person’s license as they commit more driving offenses. There are consequences to having too many points attached to one license.

How Points Operate in California

In the state of California, the license points system is known as the Negligent Operator Treatment System, or NOTS. This system is only imposed on drivers over the age of 18, unless the driver violates an existing probation from a prior conviction. The points system exists to identify drivers that are especially high-risk and encourage them to drive safely. It also acts as a form of punishment for drivers who violate traffic laws on a regular basis.

The points system ranges from 0 to 3 points. This means that certain traffic violation convictions won’t result in any points, whereas others could result in as many as 3. Examples include:

  • 0 points: Most traffic violations that do not compromise other drivers’ safety will not result in points being added to someone’s license. For example, tickets given out for simple mechanical issues or expired registrations do not have a point value assigned to them.
  • 1 point: Traffic violations that are considered somewhat serious and could endanger the driver and other people on the road are assigned 1 point. For example, turning illegally, driving slightly over the speed limit, or failing to stop fully at a stop sign could get a point added to your driver’s license. These violations are generally considered to be minor.
  • 2 points: Traffic violations that are considered criminal behavior and serious in nature are assigned 2 points on the NOTS scale. Some examples include driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, hit-and-runs, excessive speeding, and driving recklessly.
  • 3 points: Traffic violations that are classified as major, criminal, and extremely dangerous will result in 3 points being added to a driver’s license. For example, being convicted of DUI while operating a commercial truck is a 3-point offense

Warnings and Notices from the DMV

The California Department of Motor Vehicles will alert drivers when points are added to their license and if those points will impact their driving privileges or require them to take corrective action. These actions from the DMV are categorized by level and based on severity. The levels of Negligent Operator Treatment System actions the DMV can take include:

  • Level 1: The Department of Motor Vehicles will send a driver a Level 1 warning if they have accumulated a certain number of points on their license within a specified timeframe. Two points within 12 months, 4 points within 24 months, or 6 points within 36 months will result in a warning letter from the DMV.
  • Level 2: Level 2 notices from the DMV are more serious. They are formally known as a Notice of Intent to Suspend. This letter indicates to the driver that the DMV will suspend their license if they receive 1 more point on their license in a certain timeframe. This letter will be sent out if 3 points are accrued within 12 months, 5 points are accrued within 24 months, or 7 points are accrued within 36 months.
  • Level 3: Level 3 notices are official Orders of Probation/Suspension from the Department of Motor Vehicles. These temporarily revoke the driver’s operating privileges. These orders include a 1-year long probation that includes a 6-month license suspension. Note that the probation/suspension goes into effect 34 days after the notice is mailed. Receiving 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months, or 8 points within 36 months will result in a Level 3 notice.
  • Level 4: Level 4 notices are sent out when someone violates their NOTS probation. For example, any collisions that occur during a suspension, any 1- or 2-point violations that occur during a probation, and any Failure to Appears for traffic violations will result in such a notice. The DMV will take further action against people who violate their NOTS probation or suspension.

Fighting on Your Behalf

If you have received points on your license and need legal counsel to help prevent a license suspension or probation, contact The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch today. Backed by more than 20 years of experience, we are here to help you fight to maintain your driving privileges.

Contact us at (559) 484-2112 or online for a free consultation.
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