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California Traffic Tickets

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Traffic Violations Overview

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal highway Administration, there are over 11,030,029 drivers in the state of California alone. If you are driving in California, you should know that the state does use a point system.

Its point system, called the Negligent Operator Treatment System, assigns demerits for traffic violations. If you accumulate too many points, then you could lose your license. While points don’t stay on your license forever, they can impact you significantly. NOTS only affects those who are 18 or older. Younger drivers may be included if they are involved in a crash or violate provisional probation or suspensions.

The California Points System

California’s drivers may be issued negligent operator points if they violate the law. These points range from 0 to 3 points per infraction.

Points are assigned each time a driver is convicted for unsafely driving their vehicle. In some cases, no points will be assigned, such as if there was a mechanical error (exceptions apply).

For traffic convictions, negligent operator point values range from 0 to 3 points. Major convictions within a commercial vehicle receive three points. Collisions where the driver is at fault result in at least one point, which varies based on the type of vehicle being driven.


How Long Do Points Remain on Your Record?

Points may stay on your record for between three and five years. The points system adds points, so if you get too many points within a short amount of time, then your license could be suspended.

The California DMV currently suspends licenses when drivers get:

  • Four or more points within 12 months
  • Six points within two years (24 months)
  • Eight points within three years (36 months)

If you have points on your license, you should expect your insurance rates to go up. In some cases, having too many points will result in a driver being dropped from their insurance. It’s not legal to drive without car insurance in California.

What Happens When You Get Too Many Points?

If you get too many points, you can expect your license to be suspended. It is possible to have points removed by going to an approved traffic school in some cases. For example, the state does allow drivers with one point from an eligible moving violation to keep the point off their license by attending traffic school. The traffic school must be approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Where Can You Pay Your Traffic Fines?

When you receive a ticket in California, you have the option to plead guilty, pay to go to traffic school, provide proof of correction for a correctable violation, or go to court to fight the ticket. If you plead guilty, you can pay the fine, which is known as bail in California, by sending your payment and a copy of the citation to the local courthouse.

Last Verified:
May 26, 2023