Understanding Your Motor Vehicle Record
The wheels of justice turn slowly in grade school, and most of us have had one or two infractions we feared would end up on the much-dreaded and misunderstood “permanent record”. While our permanent record dangling overhead may have kept us on the straight and narrow as pre-adolescents, there exists a record that does have an impact on your life: your motor vehicle record.
In each state, the department of motor vehicles keeps a record of licensed driver’s traffic violations, departmental actions and accidents. Infractions are tracked for seven years and can affect your insurance rates, your eligibility for certain types of employment and your driving privileges.
To improve individual driving habits and ensure safe driving, most states employ a penalty point system. Points are added to a driver’s record when they are convicted of moving violations, which can also carry heavy fines. In addition to state law, employers with fleet vehicles often have their own policies and remediation programs for company drivers.
Six Points = Wake-Up Call
In the state of Pennsylvania, for example, corrective action is taken when a driver accumulates six or more penalty points. The driver must take a written examination that addresses knowledge of safe driving practices, knowledge of departmental sanctions, and knowledge of related safety issues. If the examination is passed within 30 days, two points are removed from the driver’s record.
The second time a Pennsylvania driver accumulates six points he gets hauled into court for a hearing. The court then has the option of invoking a 15-day license suspension, administering a special driver’s examination or taking no action at all. The third accumulation of six points will usually result in a 30-day license suspension.
Driving privileges are automatically suspended when 11 or more points are accumulated. The length of suspension depends on how many times the license was suspended in the past:
•First suspension –5 days per point.
•Second suspension – 10 days per point.
•Third suspension – 15 days per point.
•Subsequent suspension – One year.
The state removes three points from a driving record for every 12 consecutive months a person drives (from the date of the last violation) without another violation. Once the points level reaches zero and remains there for 12 consecutive months, any further accumulation of points is treated as a first offense.
Best Ways to Avoid an MVR Violation
You have finally joined the elite group of over 34 million people who receive a traffic citation each year. With the vast number of law enforcement officers keeping our highways safe, it is reasonable to expect that if you break or just bend any traffic regulations it will only be a matter of time before you get caught.
The good officer has probably heard every excuse in the book, and is not selling tickets to the policeman’s ball. Your best bet is to produce your license, registration and proof of insurance promptly, be honest with the officer and hope for the best.
The best way to prevent adding a negative mark to your motor vehicle record is to obey all traffic signals, signs and speed limits fully —no matter how slight the infraction may seem. It is a popular misconception that going 10 miles an hour over the speed limit is acceptable. When I-95 increased its speed limit to 65 mph about a decade ago, officers in Pennsylvania were told to ticket speeders who were clocked at 66 mph and above. So taking a chance and going just 1-2 miles per hour over the speed limit doesn’t seem worth the risk of losing your driving privileges.