Generally, in New York points for moving violations will stay on your license for 18 months. The violations themselves, however, will stay on your record for up to 4 years.
As NYC traffic ticket lawyers, we understandably get a lot of questions concerning NY driver license points. There seems to be some degree of confusion out there about how the points system in NY works, how long points “last” and stay on your driving record and how it all relates to a driver’s insurance rates.
A good place to start is with the purpose of DMV points. The DMV uses a point system to measure two things:
No points are added to your driving record unless and until you are convicted of a violation which carries points. After a conviction, the points are added to your record and attached to the date you got the ticket. This is very important. It’s the date the ticket was issued that is the relevant date, not the date you were found guilty (convicted) of the violation.
Your driving history can be reviewed in a document called your Driver Abstract. If you are convicted of a moving violation, it will be visible on your abstract. So will any suspensions or revocations or accidents. Once added to your driving history, these marks will remain visible according to the following DMV rules:
These are just the rules regarding what length of time something remains visible on a driving record before it is removed altogether. This isn’t necessarily what people are talking about when asking how many points are “on” a license. They are usually talking about point calculation and that’s a little different and more specific than the fuller history and what is simply listed on the record.
Remember, no points are added to your driving record unless and until you are convicted of a violation which carries points. After the conviction, the DMV will now go back in time to that date you received the ticket to examine how many points you may have accumulated within 18 months of that date. The DMV can then penalize you after you are convicted if they see that you had accumulated too many points back when you received the ticket.
In the examples below, it doesn’t matter how long after the ticket is issued that the driver is convicted. He might choose to pay the ticket and just plead guilty the day after he gets it or he might fight it and try to stretch it out for years. The penalties for point accumulation will be imposed after you are convicted even if those points accumulated on your record years earlier.
There are so many combinations of tickets and points and dates different drivers have that we’d never be able to set forth examples that match everyone’s situation but the basic rules above can be applied no matter how many tickets you have. Look at the dates of your violations and you can see how many points you have (or may have when a new traffic ticket or upcoming court date is considered) and where you may be in danger of accumulating too many points in any 18 month period if you are ultimately found guilty of your tickets.
We’ve discussed how long convictions and accidents and suspensions remain “visible” on a license for people to actually see if they run a record. We’ve also discussed how points are calculated for any given date for the DMV to determine when assessments may be due or even a suspension warranted. What about people asking if points are “off” their record yet? We are asked constantly if points are “off” my record by this date or that date and there really isn’t one straightforward answer. Consider the rules again for calculating a person’s point total. Now consider a person who has been convicted of a point carrying ticket issued in 2017 and asks us in 2020 whether those points are “off” their record yet. On one hand you have seen how this person can still be penalized in 2020 for points back from 2017 if it takes that long to complete a case. On the other hand, if this person received a new ticket in 2020, he would never need to worry about the points from that 2017 ticket getting added together for DMV calculations with the points from the new 2020 ticket. In one situation you could argue that the 2017 points were not off his record by 2020 and in the other you could argue that they were off by then. The concept of when a ticket is off one’s record really depends on the context of the overall individual situation.
First, note that insurance companies do not care about your actual specific DMV point total. DMV points are a DMV measuring stick.When the NYS DMV took cell phone violations and changed them from zero to two to three points to five points, do you think this played any role in an insurance company’s calculations? It was irrelevant. Their actuaries assess risk, and a cell phone violation is no more or less of a risk factor worth zero or worth 1,763 points on your license. It’s all the same to the insurer.
Many people think insurance companies care about points because they’ve heard the phrase “insurance points”. Most insurers do use an internal “point” system to assign surcharges for chargeable accidents and traffic violation convictions to your policy. Although both are based on your driving record, this insurance point system is separate and distinct from points against your driving license maintained by the DMV.
Consider seat belt tickets issued to a driver. DMV assesses no points for this, probably because the violation doesn’t cause any danger to anyone else other than the driver himself. Insurers, however, may see seat belt violations differently. Who would you consider a greater risk to insure — drivers who use their belts or drivers who continuously are pulled over and convicted for driving without them?
Insurance companies care about the nature of the convictions (“what was the violation?”) and the quantity of the convictions. They don’t care about the specific point value the DMV attaches to it. They can review these convictions and when the incident happened along with any suspensions or accidents that might also speak to your risk as a driver and set your rates accordingly.
The second point to note about insurance is how long your violations, accidents, etc. will count against you when it comes to your insurance rates.
According to the NYS Consumer Guide for Automobile Insurance, “premium surcharges due to accidents or convictions are governed by the Insurance Law and regulations, which allow surcharges to be applied during the experience period (typically three years) for specified incidents”. The “experience period” is the specific three-year period an insurer will look at to determine what “surcharges”, if any, you’ll pay above and beyond typical premium rates for someone of your age, area or residence, etc. Different companies may calculate this experience period slightly differently from one another.
The fact is that there are just too many considerations to give a specific dollar amount. It will depend on your individual situation, policy, insurer, etc. That said, if you are curious about the specific incidents that insurers do consider in determining premium surcharges here’s a list.
According to New York insurance law, surcharges are OK for:
However, surcharges are specifically not permitted for the following situations:
A person could fight to remove a conviction from their record via appeal or other motion but this isn’t always worth the expense or likely to work. Time is another way–eventually items are no longer listed on your record or you may be out of danger in a particular 18 month period. The only real step that can work for everyone and provide immediate relief to some extent is a defensive driving class point reduction program.
The NY DMV calls their program the Point and Insurance Reduction Program (PIRP) This is the official name for a Defensive Driving Course or Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention Course. A class will subtract 4 points from your point total for the 18 month period prior to completion of the class. This point reduction will only be applied by the DMV for the purposes of avoiding a potential 11 point suspension. The point reduction from the class will not be used to subtract points for the purposes of calculating the Driver Responsibility Assessment due. Most insurance companies offer a reduction for completion of the class as well so it can have value even if you aren’t at the level of a potential point based suspension.
However, note that while a PIRP course can help you avoid a suspension, the points and conviction that put them there are still on your record for everyone to see.
Only if the jurisdiction in which you received your ticket has a reciprocal agreement with the NY DMV. Currently there are only two such cities that do this: Quebec and Ontario.
Not always. In some situations it will be automatically imposed by the DMV. In other situations it will be at the judge’s discretion (at the NYC TVB, it’s judge’s discretion). Whether it’s automatic or not, 11 is definitely the number to keep your eye on. Note that with a defensive driving class in the mix, one could accumulate up to 14 points and thus still remain under 11 total as four can be deducted.
Pleading guilty to a violation means you will get whatever points come with that particular violation.
Taking a class allows you to reduce the amount of points calculated for an 18-month period by four. A class in NY though won’t be considered when calculating your point total for the purposes of a driver assessment. It will be for suspension calculations only.
What should a driver take away from all this?
So what can you do?
If you have questions about your specific driving record or want help avoiding points from a recent traffic violation, we are happy to discuss your situation. Call Feifer & Greenberg, LLP at (888) 842-5384, or contact us online for a free consultation.
You may also visit the following pages for more information about New York traffic tickets and points:
We have organized a statewide network of attorneys. In our network are both attorneys who work for Feifer & Greenberg and attorneys who work for other firms that regularly provide of-counsel representation to our clients. This statewide network allows us to match clients in a particular county or court with local attorneys who regularly appear on similar matters in the same county or court. It enables us to help clients anywhere in New York State and in our opinion provide particularly effective and affordable representation for our clients. Local attorneys can draw on their particular local experiences and, with travel time and expense removed from the equation, help us keep our legal fees low.
We recommend fighting almost all tickets. Even if the current NY traffic tickets aren’t particularly harmful, you have an incentive to keep your record clean for the future. Convictions quickly lead to surcharges, insurance increases and other complications. You should strongly consider any decision to pay a ticket without fighting.
Our lawyers are experienced, prepared attorneys who understand the nuances of fighting traffic tickets. Experience, preparation and good decision making help us to help our clients avoid points, surcharges, insurance increases and the other negatives that can easily result from a traffic ticket.