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Iris has sent us the following question:

On the California driving test, a reference to “negligent driving points” is made. What does this term mean? What are “negligent driving points?”

Different kinds of demerit point systems are in use in many states and also internationally. The primary purpose of such a point system is to identify repeat offenders.

Points are typically applied to a driving record after a moving violation or an offense. The more severe offense, the more points will be added to your record.

If the total number of points exceeds a certain limit during a specified time, your driver’s license may be revoked or suspended.

In general, driving records are confidential documents, but some companies may be allowed to request a copy of another person’s driving record. This may be important to know when you apply for a job.

You should also know that points may be reported to your insurance company, who may use the information to determine your insurance premiums, and whether to renew or cancel your insurance policy.

In California, this demerit point system is called The Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) (read more here…).

Some examples of one point violations in California are traffic convictions and at-fault collisions. Two-point violations include: Reckless driving or hit-and-run driving, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol/drugs, and Driving while driver license is suspended or revoked.

The California system will generate series of warning letters and progressive sanctions against your driving privilege. You will be considered a negligent driver when your driving record shows one of the following:

  • 4 points in 12 months
  • 6 points in 24 months
  • 8 points in 36 months

In some states you may enroll in a DMV-certified program for reduction of points on your record. Such programs typically review safe driving tips and provide an overview of vehicle and traffic laws. Upon completion of the program you may also receive a discount on your auto insurance premiums.

Remember, the rules vary by state.