Traffic violations can result in a variety of penalties, depending on the specifics. In addition, New York State has a point system where each type of traffic offense gets a certain number of points against your driving record.
How points work
Charges for a traffic violation do not add points. You receive points only after a conviction. Reaching 11 points in an 18-month period you may lose your driver's license. If you get six points, you will have to pay a Driver Responsibility Assessment fee, which can be as high as $750. Also, the amount of points on your record can affect your insurance premiums.
Point totals are calculated from the date of the violations, not the convictions. This means that if 18 months pass since the date of a traffic violation (not the conviction) before you are charged with another violation, the points will not be added together. However, they remain on your record and can still affect your insurance premiums.
How many points for each violation
Most types of violations result in three points each. They include:
- Going up to 10 miles over the speed limit
- Failing to obey traffic signs, signals and right-of-way laws
- Leaving an accident that results in property damage
- Violating passenger safety, including seat belt and car seat violations
- Passing and changing lanes improperly
- Driving the wrong way
Four-point violations include driving between 11 and 20 miles over the speed limit, tailgating and having inadequate brakes. Violations that garner five points include reckless driving, texting while driving, other types of improper cell phone use, violating railroad crossings and failing to stop for a school bus. A driving speed between 12 and 30 miles over the speed limit results in six points, while a speed between 31 and 40 miles gets you eight points. Exceeding the speed limit further results in 11 points and an immediate license suspension.
How to reduce points afterwards
New York's Department of Motor Vehicles offers a Point and Insurance Reduction Program that can alleviate some of the consequences of accumulated points. Participating in a program can help you avoid suspension if you have 11 points, although the points will still remain on your record. You may also be able to reduce your insurance premiums.
Why prevention is best
The bottom line is that once you have a traffic conviction, it can be difficult to do anything except slightly mitigate the consequences. For this reason, it is important to develop a strong defense against any traffic charges immediately to decrease the chances of getting a conviction in the first place.