Understanding the California DMV Point System

how many points is an accident in California

As a California road user, you’ve likely encountered or heard about the California DMV point system. This system is used by the DMV to track and regulate the driving behavior of anyone holding a driver’s license in the state, assigning points to each violation or offense committed. What you may not realize is that accumulating points on your record can flag you as a higher risk to insurance companies, increasing your insurance premium by up to 30% or more.

But how many points is an accident in California? The points would have to depend on the severity of your offense. If you were to get multiple violations in a single accident, you’re likely to get a point or two for each violation. And if you rack up a certain number of points within a specified timeframe, it will also spell trouble with the DMV.

The effects of having these points on your driving record can be more far-reaching than you might think. From how these points are assigned to the potential impacts on your license and insurance, there’s a lot you need to know about this system. Learn more about the California DMV point system and what it means for you as a driver in the Golden State.

How Points Are Assigned

Minor violations usually get you one point, while more serious violations get you two points or more. Running a red light is counted as one point, but if it causes a collision due to reckless driving, it will be two points or higher. When multiple violations come up from a single incident or accident, they are treated as separate offenses.

Accumulating too many points within a specific timeframe can mean license suspension or the need to attend a driving improvement course. Keep in mind that safe driving not only prevents points from racking up but also contributes to a secure and efficient driving environment for everyone.

Consequences of Accumulating Points

If you accumulate 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months, or 8 points in 36 months, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will take action.

If you receive four points within a year, the DMV will send a warning letter. If you accumulate 6 points in 24 months, you may be placed on probation, and accumulating 8 points within 36 months will trigger a license suspension.

Accumulating points can also increase your insurance premiums. Insurance companies often review driving records, and a history of accruing points may label you as a high-risk driver, resulting in higher premiums.

Having points on your driving record can impact your employment opportunities too, especially if your job involves driving. So, drive safely and avoid accumulating points to maintain a clean driving record and prevent these consequences.

For someone under 18, the rules are more strict. The DMV can suspend your license if you receive just 3 points in 12 months. The duration of the suspension will be based on the number of points you get, from 6 months for 4 points to 12 months for 8 points.

Impact on Insurance Premiums

Exceeding the point thresholds set by the California DMV can increase your insurance premiums. When you accumulate points from traffic violations, it signals to insurers that you might be more prone to accidents or risky driving behaviors. As a consequence, they adjust their premiums to reflect this increased risk.

The impact on your insurance premiums will depend on the severity and frequency of the violations that led to the points on your record. Offenses like speeding, reckless driving, or driving under the influence can seriously raise your insurance costs.

Drive safely and avoid accumulating points to keep your insurance premiums at a manageable level. Being a responsible driver not only keeps you safe on the road but also helps you save money on insurance.

Strategies to Maintain a Clean Record

To keep your driving record clean and avoid points, practice safe and defensive driving habits. Always obey traffic laws, signs, and signals. Avoid speeding, aggressive driving, and distractions like texting or talking on the phone while driving. Maintain a safe following distance and use your signals properly when changing lanes or turning. Regularly check your mirrors and blind spots to stay aware of your surroundings.

Another strategy is to attend a defensive driving course. These courses can help you improve your driving skills, increase your awareness on the road, and learn how to anticipate and react to potential hazards. Try to install a dashcam in your vehicle, in case of any incidents, a dashcam can provide evidence of what occurred and protect you from false claims.

Then, stay up to date with your vehicle’s maintenance to prevent any mechanical failures while driving. Properly functioning brakes, tires, lights, and signals can help you avoid accidents that could give you points on your driving record. 


Once you understand the California DMV point system, you can take steps to avoid accumulating points on your driving record. Knowing how points are assigned and the consequences of exceeding the limit, you can protect your license and keep your insurance premiums low. Be a responsible driver to maintain a clean record and avoid any negative effects on your driving privileges.

Sanket Goyal

Sanket has been in digital marketing for 8 years. He has worked with various MNCs and brands, helping them grow their online presence.

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