Driving points, decoded into plain speech, are demerits one collects by driving recklessly and filed on one's record.

Officers distribute points for various reasons, from small infractions, like following a vehicle too closely, to serious crimes, like operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Points are tiered with various severity depending on if one is driving in Maryland, Virginia or the D.C. area, but every district starts enforcing punishments with 12 or more points obtained in a year.


In Maryland, the Motor Vehicle Association will send a written warning to a driver for collecting three or four points. To get an idea, two points and a $90 fine are given for failing to stop at a red light before making a right turn; five points and $130 if that turn ended in an accident, under Maryland law.

At five points, the Motor Vehicle Association requires the driver to enroll in a four to eight hour 'Driver Improvement Program." The association supports about state-wide 20 programs, and if a driver is unable to take the course before the specified date on their letter, they're license is automatically suspended.

Above seven points accrued in up to two years and the State has the right to suspend a driver's license; 12 points is grounds for revocation, and after six months one has the chance to apply for a new license.

(Information on how many points are necessary for a warning or driver's program/clinic in D.C. was not available. Suspensions can be given as part of the demerit point system in Virginia, but only the court can order a license to be revoked.)


Driving violations in Virginia carry a more serious punishment for young drivers. If under 18 years old, receiving any demerit point violation will require one to attend a driver improvement clinic and pay fees, otherwise your license can be suspended, under Virginia law.


Sometimes identical violations have different points in different states. For example, speeding up to 9 mph above the posted speed limit is a three-point violation in Virginia, while in D.C. an excess of 11 to 15 mph warrants a demerit. D.C. assess out-of-state violations according to the D.C. point system, "therefore, a Virginia two point moving violation, may be assessed six points in the District," according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.