What Do “Points” On My Driver’s License Actually Mean?

We’ve all heard of getting “points” on our driver’s license for speeding tickets and other infractions, but what exactly does that mean and how does it work?

In Michigan, the number of points required to suspend a driver’s license depends on the individual’s driving record and the accumulation of points within a specific timeframe. The Michigan Secretary of State’s office uses a point system to track driving violations.

If a driver accumulates 12 points or more within a two-year period, their license may be suspended. Additionally, only 7 points or more are needed to suspend a license if the driver already had a previous suspension within the past two years. It’s important to note that certain violations automatically result in a license suspension, regardless of the number of points. Examples include driving under the influence (OWI) or refusing a chemical test. Additionally, specific circumstances or convictions may lead to an immediate suspension, even with fewer than 12 points.

In Michigan, points on a driving record will remain for a specific period of time before they are removed. The length of time varies depending on the severity of the offense:

Minor violations: Points for minor traffic violations typically stay on a driving record for two years from the date of the conviction or the date of the offense, whichever is later.

Serious violations: Points for more severe offenses, such as reckless driving or OWI, remain on the driving record for seven years from the date of the conviction. It’s important to note that accumulating too many points within a certain timeframe can result in a license suspension or other penalties. Therefore, it’s always advisable to practice safe driving habits and be mindful of traffic laws to avoid accruing points on your driving record.

The Michigan Motor Vehicle Code, MCL 257.1 et seq., establishes the driver’s license point system. For certain civil infractions (“tickets”) as well as some criminal offenses, you receive points on your license. For example, for speeding between 11 and 15 miles per hour over the speed limit, you get 3 points. For operating while intoxicated you get 6 points. The points remain on your license for 2 years.

For more information, a comprehensive list of Michigan criminal offense codes can be found here.

If you accrue 12 or more points in a 2-year period, you will be called into the Secretary of State for a “reexamination.” A reexamination is an informal meeting between you and an “analyst” from the Secretary of State. The analyst will discuss your driving record and the reasons for the reexamination. You may have to pass vision and knowledge tests, and you will likely have to pass an on-road performance test. At the end of the reexamination, the analyst will decide whether to restrict, suspend, or even revoke your license. If your license is revoked, you’ll need to wait 1 to 5 years before you’re eligible to apply to get your license back. You can appeal a suspension or restriction but not a revocation.

Don’t forget about your insurance!

Points on your driver’s license can potentially lead to an increase in your insurance rates. Insurance companies often consider various factors when determining premiums, and one significant factor is your driving record. If you have accumulated points due to traffic violations or accidents, insurance companies may view you as a higher risk, which can result in higher insurance rates.

The specific impact on your insurance rates can vary depending on the insurance company and their policies. Some companies have specific guidelines regarding the number of points or the severity of the offenses that trigger a rate increase. Additionally, the length of time that points remain on your driving record can also affect your insurance rates.

It’s always a good idea to check with your insurance provider to understand how points on your driving record might impact your specific policy and rates. They can provide you with the most accurate information based on their underwriting practices.

When you pay a traffic ticket or are found guilty of a traffic offense, you are typically penalized with fines and driver’s license points. Ignoring the driver’s license points is easy. They are not something you see or have to deal with immediately. However, ignoring them can come with consequences. This is why it is ALWAYS a good idea to have an attorney fight your ticket in court. Driving is a privilege not a right and protecting this privilege is imperative.