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Understanding Virginia’s driver’s license point system

When you want to go to work, visit friends, shop for groceries or see a movie, you get behind the wheel of your vehicle. While you may not typically think twice about your driving privileges, too many moving violations may make it impossible to drive legally. 

Many states use a point system to encourage safe driving. Unfortunately, though, Virginia’s approach is somewhat confusing. Still, if you drive in the Old Dominion, you need to know about the commonwealth’s driver’s license demerit system. 

Accumulating good points 

Every driver with a Virginia license starts with zero points. If you do not have a moving violation for a full year, you receive a positive driving point. You can, though, only accumulate five positive driving points. If you want to accrue them all at once, you can take a defensive driving course. You only have this option every two years, however. 

Acquiring demerit points 

If you have a moving violation, you are likely to accrue demerit points on your driving record. Virginia officials assess three, four or six demerit points per violation, depending on seriousness. For example, an illegal U-turn gives you three demerit points. By contrast, excessive speeding warrants a six-point assessment. If you engage in more than one type of unsafe driving in a single incident, commonwealth officials only assess points for the higher-level violation. 

Losing your driving privileges 

Acquiring too many demerit points may negatively affect your driver’s license. If you accrue 12 points in a year or 24 points in 18 months, your driver’s license enters a six-month probationary period. Then, if you receive any more demerit points during this period, you receive a license suspension of up to 90 days. If not, your driver’s license moves into an 18-month control period. Receiving a demerit point during the control period causes your license to revert to probationary status. 

Whether you drive every day or only occasionally, you value your driver’s license. While Virginia’s point system can be tough to understand, you need to know when you may face a license suspension. After all, a loss of your driving privileges may be more than a minor inconvenience.

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