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If you have a New York driver’s license, you have probably heard of having "points" if you are convicted of traffic offenses. But what exactly are points? How are they calculated? What are the penalties for accumulating too many of them? This post addresses these questions.

What are points?

"Points" refers to the system for how New York identifies and, where appropriate, penalizes drivers who have shown a propensity for behaviors that are considered higher-risk. 

How are points calculated?

The Department of Motor Vehicles maintains a schedule showing the different kinds of traffic offenses that can result in having points added to your driving record. Some offenses earn points on a sliding scale: for example, depending on how fast you were going over the speed limit, you may receive anywhere from 3 to 11 points for a single violation.

The DMV website lists 20 kinds of traffic violations that can result in points. Some of them are specific, like four points for following too closely or three points for a railroad crossing violation. Others are broad, like two points for "other moving violations." 

You receive points upon conviction of the traffic violation, but the effective date of the points relates back to the date of the offense itself.

Your tally of points is totaled on a rolling 18-month period. Points no longer count against you 18 months after they became effective. But they can still affect you: when calculating your premiums, insurance companies may still use points against you as long as the conviction remains on your record.

What are the penalties for too many points?

Once you accumulate six points, you will have to pay a "Driver Responsibility Assessment." This fee starts out at $100 per year, but can become more if you add more points beyond six or if your traffic violations include something like a drunk driving conviction. The fee is assessed annually based on your point total for a given year.

Once you reach 11 points, your license may be suspended. One quick way to reach that amount is to speed more than 40 miles per hour over the limit, which carries an 11-point penalty.

This post provides only a summary of some of the considerations concerning points. You can learn more by going to the DMV website, or by contacting a New York traffic attorney.

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