Driving Instruction

Virginia Driving Record Point System: Frequently Asked Questions

February 28, 2022

Are you someone who’s been wondering, “what is the safe driving point balance system in Virginia?” If you are, you’re not alone! 

Here at Colonial Driving School in Richmond, VA, we get lots of questions about the VA demerit point system since it can be confusing. However, it's important to be familiar with how it works because It can make a big difference in:

  1. Your insurance rates 
  2. The likelihood of your license getting suspended 

So today, we’re going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Virginia safe driver points.

Among others, some of the questions we’ll be answering include:

  • What is the “safe driving point balance” in Virginia?
  • How many points does it take to suspend a license in VA?
  • Does the VA DMV give me points for speeding?
  • How do I check my current safe driving points balance?

We’ll also share how to earn safe driving points in VA.

For the answers regarding the VA safe driving points program, read on!

Frequently Asked Questions about the VA Safe Driving Points Program

We’re going to start out our list with the most fundamental question of all… 

What is the “Safe Driving Point Balance” in Virginia?

As is the case in many states, Virginia has a driving record point system. Here’s how it works:

  • All motorists start out with a score of 0. Every year that the motorist maintains a clean record with no tickets, the DMV awards them +1 safe driver point. (You can have a maximum score of +5.)
  • Every time a motorist is convicted of a moving traffic violation, the VA DMV adds a certain number of negative “demerit points” to the driver’s license. Demerit points reduce your safe driving points balance score. 

For example: When Jack gets his license, he starts out with a score of 0. If he drives for three years without any tickets, he will have a score of +3. But let’s imagine he then gets a speeding ticket. The DMV may give him 4 demerit points, he will then have a safe driving points balance score of -1.


The number of positive or negative points on your DMV license indicates to the DMV (and potentially to judges and insurance companies) how safe of a driver you are. 

How Can I Check My Safe Driving Points Balance?

The only way to check your safe driving points balance is by logging into the DMV website and requesting your driving records. 

The record of your Virginia safe driving points isn’t public information. That means if you call the court or a driving school, they won’t be able to tell you your points balance. Thankfully, however, it’s easy to check it yourself through the DMV website.

Does the VA DMV Give You Points for Speeding?

Every time a motorist is convicted of a moving violation, the VA DMV adds either 3, 4, or 6 demerit points to their license. The number of demerit points depends on the severity of the violation

In the case of speeding, the number of demerit points depends on how far above the speed limit the driver was going: 

  • 1-9 miles above the speed limit = 3 demerit points
  • 10-19 miles above the speed limit = 4 demerit points
  • 20 or more miles above the speed limit (reckless driving by speed) = 6 demerit points

These points can add up fast! If you get too many demerit points at once, the DMV will step in and suspend your license. That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on your Virginia safe driving points.

How Many Points Does it Take to Suspend a License in VA?

According to the DMV:

“If you accumulate 12 demerit points in 12 months (or 18 points in 24 months), you will be required to complete a driver improvement clinic. You must enroll in and satisfactorily complete the clinic within 90 days.

If you accumulate 18 demerit points in 12 months (or 24 points in 24 months), your driving privilege will be suspended for 90 days. Additionally, you must complete a driver improvement clinic before your privilege will be restored. Once your privilege is restored, you’ll be placed on a six-month probation period.”

Gaining 18 points in a year may seem unlikely, but it can happen more easily than you might think. All it would take is to be caught going 80mph in a 60mph area three times. And BOOM, suspended license! 

But never fear, there are things you can do to reduce your VA demerit points within the system.

How to Reduce Driving Demerit Points in Virginia?

In the VA safe driving points program, demerit points only stay on your license for two years. Then, they automatically disappear. 

For example, if you’re convicted of reckless driving by speed (6 demerit points) on January 10th, 2022, all 6 demerit points will automatically disappear on January 10th, 2024. 

If you’re wondering how to reduce driving demerit points in Virginia quicker than two years, keep reading to learn how to earn safe driving points in VA.

How to Earn Safe Driving Points in VA?

There are two ways to earn safe driving points in VA’s safe driving points program:

  1. The DMV awards +1 safe driving point every year. (Assuming the motorist hasn’t committed any moving violations that year.) 
  2. You can collect +5 safe driving points all at once by voluntarily attending a DMV-approved Driver Improvement Clinic

Voluntarily attending an approved Driver Improvement Clinic is the fastest way to improve your safe driving points balance in Virginia. You can do this as often as once every other year. 

A Driver Improvement Clinic is the same class that judges send you to when they court-order you to attend traffic school. However, when attending a Driver Improvement Clinic in response to a court order, you won’t receive the +5 safe driving points to your license. In order to get those points, you’ll have to attend as a “volunteer.” That being said, even if the court sends you to driving school, you can still go back again as a volunteer and get those points! 

What Is a Good Amount of Driving Record Points to Have?

When it comes to positive, safe driving points, it’s ideal to have the maximum amount of +5. 

If you have a clean driving record and +5 safe driving points on your license, it’s more likely that a police officer will be inclined to let you off with a warning. Or, if you do get a ticket, if you have a good safe driving points balance, it’s more likely a judge will consider going easy on you.

When it comes to negative, demerit points, it goes without saying that the fewer the better. That being said, if you get 8 demerits in 12 months, the DMV will write you a letter of warning. If you go on to gain a total of 12 demerits in the same 12 months, you’ll be required to attend a Driver Improvement Clinic (like it or not.) And if you hit 18 demerits in 12 months, your license will be suspended. 

Earn Virginia Safe Driving Points

We hope that this article has given you a clear answer to, “What is the safe driving point balance in Virginia?” and help you understand how to navigate the VA safe driving points program. 

In summary:

  • The Virginia driving record point system indicates to the DMV, judges, and insurance companies how likely a motorist is to commit a traffic violation 
  • Each traffic conviction automatically results in 3-6 demerits added to your license
  • If you gain too many demerits in too short a time, the DMV may suspend your license
  • Demerits automatically disappear from your license after two years
  • You can gain +5 safe driver points all at once by voluntarily attending a DMV approved Driver Improvement Clinic

If you’re interested in taking an excellent, DMV-approved Driver Improvement Clinic in the Richmond, VA area, Colonial Driving School is here for you.


We host in-person Driver Improvement Clinics every Saturday, and every other Wednesday to accommodate both weekend and midweek availabilities. We also offer a fully approved, online option for students whose schedules or location make it difficult to attend class in person.

Check out our website or give us a call to see how we can help you improve your safe driving points balance and become the safest driver you can be.