Accumulating points is usually a good thing. 

Take for instance a backyard volleyball game at a summer barbecue. Whoever scores the most points wins and can brag as loudly as they like, much to the chagrin of everyone else, for the rest of the barbecue.

There is one glaring instance, however, where the goal is to refrain from achieving any points. When it comes to your driver’s license, points are a very bad thing that can restrict your driving privileges, increase your insurance rates and leave a dramatically negative impact on your life and your ability to get around town with ease. 

Any New York State driver, regardless of how clean your record is, is well advised to read this web page, which has detailed information from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles on how the point system works. For example:

“The Driver Violation Point System gives the New York State DMV a way to identify and take action against high risk drivers. The DMV assigns points for certain traffic violations. If you get 11 points in an 18-month period, your driver license may be suspended.”

It can also be revoked. 

And, “Once 18 months have passed from the violation date, the points for that violation no longer count toward your total. However, the points remain on your driving record as long as the conviction remains on your record and may be used by your insurance company to increase premiums.”

In New York State, there is also the Driver Responsibility Assessment fee, which you must pay over a three year period if you are convicted of certain traffic offenses or accumulate 6 or more points on your driving record within 18 months. This fee comes on top of any fines, penalties or surcharges that you are assessed for a traffic conviction. The goal of this fee, according to the NYS DMV is “to prevent the repeated behavior of problem drivers and to improve traffic safety.”

Remember, if you’re ever in a pinch, large or small, regarding a citation for violating New York State vehicle and traffic law, the attorneys at Phillips & Millman are ready to learn the details of your situation and potentially plot out a strategy. Give them a call at 845-947-1100. 

For now, it’s back to points on your driver’s license. So, when it comes to points—who has to pay and how much is the damage?

  • If you are convicted of an alcohol or drugged driving-related offense or if you refuse to take a chemical test, the annual assessment is $250. The minimum amount that you must pay each year is the annual assessment. The total assessment for the three years is $750.
  • If you receive 6 points on your driver record for violations committed during a period of 18 months, the annual assessment is $100. The total assessment for the three years is $300. If you receive more than 6 points on your driver record during a period of 18 months, the annual assessment is $25 for each point in addition to the original six points. 

If you don’t pay at least the minimum amount owed, your driver license will be suspended. And the amount you owe could increase if you are convicted of additional offenses.

So how is your point total calculated?

  • You must be convicted of a traffic violation before points are added to your driving record.
  • Your point total is calculated by the date of the violation, not the date of the conviction.
  • The points for violations that occurred within the last 18 months are added to calculate your point total. 

Here is a list from the NYS DMV of violations and points:


Speeding (MPH over posted limit)  
1 to 10 3
11 to 20 4
21 to 30 6
31 to 40 8
Over 40 11
Reckless driving 5
Failed to stop for school bus 5
Improper cell phone use 5
Use of portable electronic device "texting" 5
Railroad crossing violation 5
Failed to yield right-of-way 3
Red Light 3
Disobeying traffic control signal, STOP sign or YIELD sign 3
Improper passing, changing lane unsafely 3
Driving left of center, in wrong direction 3
Leaving scene of property damage incident 3
Child safety restraint violation 3
Inadequate Brakes (employer's vehicle) 2
Most other moving violations 2
Failure to signal 2
Improper turn 2
Disobeying a traffic control device 2
Tinted window 0
No seatbelt driver/passenger 16 years or older 0
Unregistered 0
Unlicensed 0
Uninspected 0
Faulty equipment 0

Points are not assigned for:

  • Bicycle violations.
  • Pedestrian violations.
  • Parking violations.
  • Violations related to unregistered, unlicensed or uninsured operation.
  • Violations related to motor vehicle inspection, vehicle weights or dimensions or vehicle equipment other than inadequate service brakes. 

You can take steps to remedy your points situation, outside of just waiting for the clock to tick and the months to pass. You can enroll in a DMV-Approved Point and Insurance Reduction Program course that will help prevent you from losing your license. Completion of the course triggers a 4-point reduction if you’ve accumulated 11 or more points. You will also save 10 percent on your auto insurance. 

But keep in mind the points don’t physically vanish from your driving record. Click here to learn more about the Point and Insurance Reduction Program, which is also known as the Defensive Driving Course or Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention Course. 

Attorney Frank Phillips of Phillips & Millman also wants to remind drivers that, although a judge cannot suspend your license if you fail to pay a fine,but that judge can suspend your license if you fail to appear for a scheduled court appearance. 

Finally, it can’t hurt to keep an eye on how many points you may or may not have on your driver’s license by clicking here. Hopefully that number remains zero and you can focus on accumulating the right kind of points, at your next backyard barbecue volleyball match.