Getting a traffic ticket is one of the most common offenses. No one would automatically think any less of you for the police pulling you over for a traffic violation, as most people receive a ticket sometime in their life.
When it seems like no big deal, you may believe the best course of action is to pay the fine and fulfill any other necessary requirements so you can move on with life. However, that may not always be the right choice.
What tickets do to your license
Even if you pay the fine, the ticket still results in the DMV (not a judge) subtracting points from your license. How many points go on record depends on the nature of the offense. For example, something minor such as making an improper U-turn is only worth three points. A more severe infraction, such as going at least 20 mph over the speed limit, is worth six points.
Points stay on your license for two years from the time the offense occurred. However, the conviction for the violation stays on your driving record for more years, from three to indefinitely. Once you reach -12 points in the same number of months, or -18 in 24 months, you have 90 days to take a driver improvement clinic.
Accumulating -18 points in 12 months, or -24 in the same number of months, causes you to lose your license for 90 days, have to complete the course and then go through six months of probation. Some violations automatically lead to a license suspension or revocation, no matter how many demerits you have.
Insurance companies also assign their own separate points for tickets to determine the cost of your premium. With so much at stake, it is wise to explore your legal options before submitting to the ticket. You should also keep track of how many tickets you have.
How good driving can help
Virginia also applies positive points to your license. You can earn one a year if you receive no demerits, for a maximum of five safe driving points. You can earn the full five at once by voluntarily taking the driver improvement clinic.