California uses a point system to track driving violations. If you get a DUI, it will add 2 points to your driver’s license.
These points can lead to your license being suspended. Plus, a DUI carries license suspension as a penalty on its own. But there are ways to remove some points from your license, and fight a DUI suspension. That means it’s important to understand both the point system and the DUI criminal penalties.
California’s “Point” System
The point system is intended to track the riskiest drivers and remove them from the roads. It establishes a point value for different types of moving violations. If they add up to too many points too fast, the DMV will automatically suspend your driver’s license. That means it’s illegal to drive until you get your license reinstated.
So how many points are too many? It depends on the time frame. Here are the thresholds over a period of three years:
- 4 points in 1 year
- 6 points in 2 years
- 8 points in 3 years
Hitting any of these thresholds is enough to lose your license. So if you get 4 points in a single year, it doesn’t matter how clean your record was before—the license is revoked.
How Many Points?
The point system is straightforward. Most violations cost 1 point. For example:
- Speeding (on its own) is worth 1 point.
- Most other traffic violations, such as running a stop sign, are worth 1 point.
- Accidents are worth 1 point if they’re your fault. If you’re in an accident that someone else caused, or a very minor accident, you won’t get any points at all.
But some violations are worth double (2 points). These include:
- Hit & Run
- “Wet Reckless”
Wet reckless means a reckless driving charge related to drinking. This is may be handed out as a deal if you have a good Los Angeles DUI lawyer fighting for you. The penalties for “wet reckless” are far less than those for DUI, but for license points it still costs double.
Remember that a DUI carries many penalties on its own, which include several forms of license suspension:
- “Administrative Suspension.” This is done automatically by the DMV when you are charged with DUI. You can stop it, but only if you act quickly. You have to request a DMV hearing within 10 days of the arrest. It’s best to have a DUI lawyer represent you at this hearing.
- License Suspension. All DUI’s carry some level of license suspension as part of the punishment, but the exact length of the suspension varies. You may be able to shorten it by accepting treatment or simply by having a good lawyer represent you.
- Restricted License. You may be able to request restricted driving privileges for part of your suspension period. This allows you to drive to work. Again, it’s best to have a good DUI lawyer represent you if you want to maximize your driving rights.
All of these penalties are separate from the point system. That means that you could face suspension from the DMV, suspension from the judge, and suspension from the points. All the penalties will be added together one after another. This is why it’s so important to keep your points down.
Removing Points from Your License
The California DMV allows you to remove some types of points by attending traffic school. The class you take is focused on defensive driving, and is designed to help you reduce the risk of future accidents or violations. It can be completed online or in a classroom.
Traffic School will not remove the 2 points you received from a DUI. However, it can remove points from other infractions, like speeding or an accident. If this brings down your total, you may avoid the suspension.
You can find a list of California traffic schools on the DMV’s info lookup.
Remember that even if you keep your points under the limit, you will still face the criminal DUI penalties—including license suspension. Your best bet is to fight your DUI charge as hard as possible.
How to Fight a California DUI
The best way to fight a DUI is to have a good DUI lawyer represent you. Your lawyer can handle your DMV hearing, advise you on keeping your license, and work to win your case for you. They may be able to object to the evidence against you, like breath tests or the statement of police. In some cases they can have the charge dropped or downgraded so you don’t face a DUI at all.
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