There are 3 options in Virginia for how to get driving points off your record — the fast way, the slow way, and the really slow way!
If you need to get the points off fast, then you need to take a Driver Improvement Clinic. It’s an 8-hour class, usually held on a Saturday, which can be surprisingly helpful and interesting (especially if you take it at Colonial Driving School!) You can take it voluntarily once every two years, and it will wipe 5 points off your record each time. That’s the fast way to get points off your record.
The slow way is to wait for the points to drop off naturally. They will drop off two years after the offense occurred.
The really slow way is to avoid getting tickets completely. You get one safe driver point added (or one driving demerit point erased) for every year without a ticket.
Going to a Driver Improvement Clinic doesn’t just wipe off 5 points, it can help you avoid the points in the first place. If you get a ticket and then take driving school voluntarily before your court date, the judges will often (not always) reduce or drop your ticket completely. That way the new points are never added. Not only that, many insurance companies will reduce your rates if you take the driver improvement clinic. This triple whammy effect makes the Driver Improvement Clinic a powerful tool to people who need to clean up their driving record quickly.
That’s the short answer for how to get points off in Virginia, but why bother? Let’s take a look at the penalties and benefits associated with demerit points and safe driving points in Virginia.
Just to clarify, demerit points and safe driving points are the same thing. Each of us has one driving record, and we start out with zero points on it. You get one “safe driving point” added each year that you drive without getting any tickets, but you lose lots of points all at once if you get a ticket.
If you accumulate points rapidly (click here for full details from the DMV) you can lose your license. That’s how I originally bought Colonial Driving School. I got 3 speeding tickets in a 12 month period (11 points) and the DMV sent me a letter saying I would lose my license if I didn’t take a Driver Improvement Clinic. The rest is history.
Violations in Virginia carry 3 point, 4 point, and 6 point penalties. You can click on the links for a complete list of the various violations that those point penalties but here is a sampling of the most common violations and the points associated:
|Failure to heed traffic signals||3 points|
|Speeding 1-9 MPH over limit||3 points|
|Illegal U-Turn||3 points|
|Driving without lights on||3 points|
|Speeding 10-19 MPH over limit||4 points|
|Unsafe passing||4 points|
|Speeding over 80 MPH||6 points|
|Driving under the influence (DUI)||6 points|
Many employers look at your point record on your driver’s license before they hire you. It is considered a mark of good character to have a good driving record, and some professions require it.
Insurance companies rate you as a risk and set your premiums based on your driving record. In fact, Nerd Wallet conducted extensive research on the effect driving demerit points have on insurance costs and found that Virginians face a 7% average increase in car insurance rates after the points from a ticket hit their record. If you are rated a “high-risk driver,” your rates could go up as much as 300% according to insure.com.
If you pay a ticket without going to court, you admit guilt. The ticket and the points are added to your record. If you ignore or forget to pay a ticket, then the DMV will refer it to a collection agency and your credit will be destroyed. Adding insult to injury, your insurance rates can be further increased for bad credit!
Another very scary thing in Virginia is the fact that the judge has the discretion to uphold a charge of FELONY RECKLESS DRIVING when you get a relatively low-level speeding ticket, such as 81 in a 75 mph area. The penalties for this are incredibly draconian in Virginia, including jail time, huge fines, and a permanent criminal record. Judges are much more likely to do this to you if you have a lot of points on your record.
All in all, it is important to maintain a positive point record on your license in Virginia. The best way to do this, of course, is to avoid tickets. But the quickest fix if you have a lot of points is to take a Driver Improvement Clinic.
You can take it voluntarily, for points, every two years. On top of that, you can take it as often as you want to get tickets dismissed.
Good luck and Drive Safe!