Points Based License Suspension
Driving is a privilege that many of us take for granted, but it's important to remember that with that privilege comes responsibility. In Georgia, one of the ways that responsibility is emphasized is through the state's point system. If you accumulate 15 or more points on your license within a 24-month period as a driver aged 21 or older, your license will be suspended. While this may seem daunting, the good news is that there are ways to both regain your license and avoid suspension in the first place. Here, we'll cover not only how to get your license back but also how to keep your point total down so you hopefully never have to face a suspension at all.
MVR and How Points Work
The Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) in Georgia is a comprehensive record of an individual's driving history, maintained by the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS). This report contains important information such as traffic violations, accidents, and license suspensions, providing a snapshot of a driver's behavior on the road. Insurance companies, employers, and law enforcement agencies often use MVRs to assess a driver's risk level and ensure public safety. Additionally, this report can be useful for individuals who want to monitor their own driving habits and address any issues that may arise.
In Georgia, a point system is used to track and penalize drivers who commit traffic violations. These points are added to the driver's MVR, with the number of points varying based on the severity of the violation. For example, speeding might result in 2-6 points, while reckless driving could add 4 points to one's record. It's important to note that accumulating too many points within a specific time frame can lead to serious consequences. For drivers aged 21 or older, if they amass 15 or more points within a 24-month period, their driver's license will be automatically suspended. This suspension serves as a deterrent for unsafe driving habits and encourages responsible behavior on the roads.
Under 21 and Under 18 Drivers' Points System
The points system in Georgia is designed to monitor and regulate driver behavior, with specific provisions in place for younger drivers who may be more inexperienced or prone to risky driving habits. For drivers under the age of 18, the threshold for license suspension is lower than for older drivers. If a driver under 18 accumulates 4 or more points within a 12-month period, their license will be suspended. This stricter requirement aims to encourage safer driving habits among teenagers and help them develop responsible driving practices early in their driving careers.
For drivers between the ages of 18 and 21, the points accumulation leading to license suspension is the same as for those 21 and older, with an automatic suspension occurring upon reaching 15 points within a 24-month period. However, there is an additional caveat for these younger drivers: if they are convicted of any single offense carrying 4 or more points, their license will also be automatically suspended. Some examples of higher-point offenses that can lead to suspension for drivers under 21 but not for those 21 or older include unlawful passing of a school bus (6 points), aggressive driving (6 points), reckless driving (4 points), and speeding 24mph or greater over the speed limit (4 points). This extra layer of regulation serves to further emphasize the importance of safe driving habits among younger drivers and protect both them and others on the road.
Common Traffic Violations and Points Assessed
Here are some common traffic violations in Georgia, and how many points are put on your MVR, if convicted.
Speeding: Driving at a speed that exceeds the posted limit for a particular road or area. Points assessed for speeding convictions vary based on the extent of the violation:
- 15-18 mph over the speed limit: 2 points
- 19-23 mph over the speed limit: 3 points
- 24-33 mph over the speed limit: 4 points
- 34+ mph over the speed limit: 6 points
Reckless Driving: Operating a vehicle with reckless disregard for the safety of others or property. This includes actions such as excessive speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, or tailgating. Conviction carries 4 points.
Failure to Obey Traffic Control Devices: Disobeying traffic signals, stop signs, or other devices that are in place to control the flow of traffic. This violation results in 3 points upon conviction.
Following Too Closely (Tailgating): Driving too closely behind another vehicle without maintaining a safe distance. This can lead to rear-end collisions and is considered dangerous. Conviction carries 3 points.
Improper Lane Change or Usage: Failing to stay within designated lanes, changing lanes without signaling, or using lanes reserved for specific purposes (e.g., carpool lanes) without authorization. This violation results in 3 points upon conviction.
Unlawful Passing of a School Bus: Illegally passing a stopped school bus while it is loading or unloading passengers, which puts children at risk. Conviction of this offense carries a hefty penalty of 6 points.
Aggressive Driving: A combination of dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, and improper lane changes, often fueled by anger or frustration. This violation is considered more severe than reckless driving due to the ill intent behind the driving behavior, and results in 6 points upon conviction.
Consequences for a Points Based License Suspension
In Georgia, a points-based license suspension can have significant consequences for drivers who accumulate too many points on their driving record within a certain period. The state's point system assigns various point values to different traffic violations, and the accumulation of 15 or more points within a 24-month period will result in a license suspension. For first-time offenders, the suspension period lasts for one year. However, drivers should be aware that accumulating excessive points can also lead to increased insurance premiums, fines, and mandatory attendance at defensive driving courses.
As for repeat offenders, the consequences become more severe. A second suspension within five years due to points accumulation will result in a license suspension of three years, while a third or subsequent suspension within the same timeframe will lead to a five-year license suspension. It's crucial for Georgia drivers to be mindful of their driving habits and adhere to traffic laws to avoid these harsh penalties. Moreover, it's important to remember that license suspensions not only impact one's ability to drive but also carry social and economic implications, such as difficulty in finding employment and maintaining personal relationships.
Reinstatement of License after Suspension
Reinstating your Georgia driver's license after a points-based suspension can be a straightforward process if you know the steps to follow. For your first suspension within a 5-year period, you will need to complete a Defensive Driving Course approved by the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) and pay a reinstatement fee of $210 ($200 by mail) - and you can reinstate at any time within your one year suspension period, so long as you can show compliance with the requirements. To reinstate your license after a second suspension within the same 5-year period, it is similar to the first in five - Defensive Driving Course, with fee, at any time in the three-year suspension period - except the reinstatement fee jumps to $310 ($300 by mail).
For the third (or subsequent) suspension within a 5-year period, the process becomes more stringent. You will need to complete the Defensive Driving Course, and pay a reinstatement fee of $410 ($400 by mail). However, the suspension period this time is a hard two-year period, with no option to reinstate until the two years has expired, and absolutely no option for a limited permit.
For all of these suspensions, once the suspension has occurred, your point count is then reduced to zero - meaning you'd have to rack up a new set of 15 or more points within 24-months in order to face another points based license suspension.
Keep in mind that these fees and requirements are subject to change, so it is recommended to consult the Georgia DDS website or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information on reinstating your driver's license.
How to Reduce Points
In Georgia, accumulating points on your Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) due to traffic violations can lead to increased insurance rates and even license suspension. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can employ to reduce points on your MVR and minimize the impact of these violations. One option is to enter a nolo contendere (no contest) plea once every 5 years before being convicted of a traffic violation, which may help prevent points from being added to your record. Another approach is to negotiate a reduced charge that carries fewer points prior to being convicted of the initial traffic violation. You can also petition the Court for a Zero-Points Order, upon completion of a DDS approved Defensive Driving Course completed after your citation date. Additionally, Georgia drivers have the opportunity to take a state-approved Defensive Driving Course for points reduction once every five years. By understanding and utilizing these methods, you can proactively manage your MVR and maintain a clean driving record.
Nolo Contendere or No Contest Plea
A nolo contendere or "no contest" plea can be a strategic option for Georgia drivers looking to avoid points being assessed to their license after receiving a traffic ticket. By entering this type of plea, you are neither admitting guilt nor disputing the charges against you. Instead, you are accepting the consequences of the charge without having points added to your driving record. It is important to note that this option can only be used once every 5 years, and while it may prevent points from accumulating on your license, you will still be subject to other penalties associated with the violation, such as fines or even jail time.
However, not all drivers are eligible - drivers under the age of 21 in Georgia face stricter regulations when it comes to traffic violations, as they are not permitted to plead nolo contendere for any traffic ticket. This limitation is in place to encourage young drivers to exercise greater caution and responsibility while on the road, as well as to ensure that any violations committed by this age group are fully addressed. As a result, drivers under 21 who receive a traffic ticket in Georgia must either contest the charge in court or accept the conviction, with its associated penalties and points assessed to their Motor Vehicle Record (MVR). This underscores the importance of safe driving habits for young motorists, as they do not have the same options for mitigating the consequences of traffic infractions as older drivers do.
Negotiating a Reduced Charge with Less Points
Another effective strategy to avoid points on your Georgia license is to enlist the help of a traffic ticket attorney, who can negotiate with the prosecutor for a reduction in charges on your behalf. In many cases, a skilled attorney can secure a lesser charge that carries fewer or even no points, thus minimizing the impact on your driving record. To increase the chances of successful negotiations, you may be required to fulfill additional obligations, such as completing extra community service hours, paying a higher fine, or attending a defensive driving course. By demonstrating your willingness to take responsibility and make amends for your actions, you can potentially persuade the prosecutor to reduce the severity of the charges, thereby protecting your driving record and preventing the negative consequences associated with accumulating points on your license.
Zero Points Order from the Court
Another option in Georgia for avoiding points being assessed on your Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) is to request a zero-points order from the court. This legal remedy allows you to plead guilty to the traffic charges without having points added to your driving record. To be eligible for this option, you must complete a Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) approved Defensive Driving Course after the date of your citation. The zero-points order can be requested once every 5 years, regardless of your age, making it a valuable option for drivers under 21 who are otherwise ineligible to plead nolo contendere.
To pursue a zero-points order, it is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable traffic attorney who can guide you through the process and represent your interests in court. By demonstrating your commitment to improving your driving skills, you may be able to receive mercy from the Court with a zero-points order.
Defensive Driving for Points Reduction
In Georgia, drivers have the opportunity to proactively reduce points on their Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) by completing a state-approved Defensive Driving Course. By taking this course, you can apply to the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) to have up to 7 points removed from your MVR. However, it is crucial to complete the course and submit your application before reaching the threshold for points-based license suspension, as the DDS will not accept requests for point reduction once the suspension has been triggered. Engaging in this preventive measure not only helps maintain a clean driving record but also demonstrates your commitment to improving your driving skills and prioritizing safety on the road. Remember, though, that you are only allowed to take a defensive driving course for points reduction once every five years, so it is essential to continue practicing safe driving habits to avoid future traffic violations and potential license suspension.
How We Can Help
If you're looking for reliable help with your Georgia driver's license suspension due to points on your record, Your Law Firm is here to guide you every step of the way. We understand the seriousness of having your driver's license suspended, and we want to assist you in avoiding this troubling situation altogether. Our team can start helping you before you even enter your plea, so we can try and reduce points before you hit your limit. Especially if you're a driver under 21 years old, it's crucial to contact us early on, so we can prevent any potential risk of suspension, due to the low tolerance for points on your record as a younger driver. Our professional and friendly team will be there to help you get back on the road safely and promptly.