Thomas Carroll Blauvelt

DMV points will impact your insurance premiums

Driving is something many of us take advantage of, yet in many ways being a driver can be expensive. Car payments, fuel costs and maintenance are all things that can add up quickly, but on top of that there are auto insurance premiums. Unlike the cost of a vehicle or price per gallon of fuel, insurance costs in New Jersey depend a lot on how you live and drive. The New Jersey DMV uses a point system to measure the type of driver you are, adding points to your license for speeding and other traffic violations. Overall it is best to accumulate as few points as possible. In general, those with low scores are offered the lowest auto insurance rates, and have the most secure hold on their licenses. Higher scores not only lead to high rates, and may even disqualify a person from getting covered by some insurers, it can also put a driver’s license at risk.

Accumulating points by the way you drive

A person’s behavior behind the wheel is one of the things that can add points on a New Jersey license, and one of the quickest ways to add points is by speeding. Driving a little above the limit may get you to your destination faster in the short run, but it also make the journey more expensive. Exceeding the speed limit by 1-15 mph adds two points onto the tally, 15-29 mph over the limit adds four, and 30+ mph above adds five points. Most cases of improper turning add three points, and improper passing is usually four points – unless the other vehicle is a school bus, then it’s five points. Tailgating also tacks on five points, but the biggest points offense is leaving the scene of an accident where a person has been injured, which adds eight points.

All of these points matter, because if six points are accumulated in three years, you will be charged a fee by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. If you Accumulate 12 points, your license will be suspended. Insurance companies don’t like to see points on your record either, because they equate those points with poor driving and life choices, and raise your premiums and may even lead to a denial of coverage.

Getting points while off the road

It’s possible to have points added to your driving record without ever getting a traffic ticket. Certain drug charges, failing to pay child support, drinking when you are under 21, and failing to follow the directions of the court are all behaviors that can cause your license to be suspended. Also, regardless of the quality of your driving, driving while intoxicated, driving without a license, and driving without insurance are also likely to bring enough points to warrant suspension.

Undoing the damage

Making a few mistakes doesn’t necessarily doom you to life as a pedestrian or paying through the teeth for auto insurance for the rest of your life. There are also steps you can take to remove points from your record and get back into the good graces of the New Jersey MVC and auto insurance companies. Taking a defensive driving course will knock two points off your record. If you manage to go a full year without violations or being suspended, another three points will disappear. Completing driver improvement programs or a probationary driver program are both actions that can knock three points off your total. While taking classes to improve your driving is almost always a good thing, there is a limit to how many points you can remove from your license. Defensive driving courses will only remove points every five years, and a driver improvement program only removes points every two years. The best way to get – and keep – a low point total is to take advantage of negative point opportunities when they become available, drive well, and fight traffic offenses when they do arise.

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