Making a Point: What Traffic Citations Mean for Your License

Thomas Jeter • May 21, 2014

Making a Point: What Traffic Citations Mean for Your License

Flashing red and blue lights in the rearview mirror usually equates to a ticket. Drivers in the Carolinas may have to pay a fine for the infraction. This is not only inconvenient, but it may even budget-breaking, as some citations can be in the hundreds of dollars. Another consequence may be accumulating points on your license. What do those points actually mean? Depending on your driving record, points could mean a suspended license and sky-rocketing insurance rates.

Deciphering the License Point System

Most states have enacted a license point system to reign in careless driving. Points are assigned according to the infraction, which may include speeding, improper lane change, following too closely or running a red light. Some violations are less obvious, as the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles can assign you a license point if you litter while driving.

In South Carolina, the system is simple. If you acquire six points over the course of your driving career, the Department of Motor Vehicles will issue you a letter outlining further consequences. Having 12 points will equate to a license suspension. North Carolina’s method is more complex:

    • Accruing 12 points in a three-year time frame could result in a revoked license.
    • After reinstatement, just eight points in a three-year period could garner a suspension.


Both states have a point removal system. In South Carolina, points are cut in half after a year has passed since the violation. In North Carolina, motorists with seven license points may be required to participate in a driver improvement clinic. Upon completion, the state will remove three points from the record.

Insurance Points

Insurance companies work on an entirely different points system. In North Carolina, for example, the Safe Driver Incentive Plan outlines the violations that merit points and how many points they are worth. The spectrum ranges from one point for minor speeding infractions to 12 points for certain fatal car accidents. According to the plan, even just one point can increase your driver’s insurance premium by 30 percent. Six points would up your policy price tag by 135 percent.

Conversely, there are insurance companies that reward drivers who do not have any points. It is possible to reap the benefits of a discounted premium or safe-driver bonus, depending on the insurer.

 Don’t Let the Points Add Up

In addition to insurance and hefty fines, traffic violations can cause other issues. For example, employers have access to driving records and may frown upon an employee accumulating points. If your license is suspended, the cost of reinstating it can be expensive. At Nosal & Jeter, LLP we understand how the point systems in both North Carolina and South Carolina work, as well as most other states. Let us help you dispute a ticket to keep costly points off your license and out of your insurance policy.