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How does the Virginia driver’s demerit point system work?

Dealing with a traffic stop is frustrating enough on its own. Most people who get ticketed by the police decide to just pay the fine and move on with their lives. On the surface, that approach may seem reasonable.

Depending on the citation, the fine for the ticket might only be a few hundred dollars. It could also increase your insurance premiums, but you won’t know by exactly how much until you either tell your insurance company about the ticket or go to renew your policy.

The way that the insurance companies know about your traffic violation is one of the most compelling reasons to fight against a ticket and defend your driving record. Virginia maintains a record of your driving infractions and even assigns demerit points against your license for each citation that you plead guilty to by paying the fine instead of fighting the ticket.

Every offense carries a specific number of points

Virginia has three classifications of driving offenses. Any ticket that you receive will carry either three, four or six points. Examples of three-point violations include driving with your lights off, not using signals or driving over a fire hose.

Four-point violations include multiple kinds of reckless driving, unsafe passing or failing to stop at a railroad crossing signal. Some of the six-point violations include severe reckless driving, driving under the influence, vehicular manslaughter and driving as a habitual offender.

How long do demerit points last?

Most demerits only stay on your record for two years, although the citation will often stay on your driving record for longer. Most three-point violations will stay on your record for three years, although speeding will stay on your record for five. Six-point violations tend to stay on your record for 11 years, with a few exceptions.

The more points you have, the more your insurance will likely cost. You may also face the suspension of your license or the requirement to complete a driver improvement clinic. Defending against traffic tickets can prevent adding more demerit points to your record and help keep your driving record clean.

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