How Exactly Does California's Negligent Operator Point System Actually Work, and What Impact Do "Points" Have on a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) - OR - a Non-Commercial Driver's License?

Violation "point" counts remain on a CDL holders’ (Class A & B licenses) record for convictions incurred while driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) or as a holder of a commercial driver license, as follows:

• Major violations and related disqualification actions, remain 55 years.
• Out-of-service violations and related disqualification
actions, remain 15 years.
• Accidents, serious violations (such as DUI or reckless driving) and related disqualification actions, remain 10 years.
• Railroad grade crossings and related disqualification
actions, remain 4 years.
• Minor convictions (such as speeding, log book, out of designated lane, etc.), remain 3 years.

Violation "point" counts remain on a Non-CDL (Class C license) holder's record for convictions incurred while driving a private motor vehicle as follows:

• Accidents, serious violations (such as DUI or reckless driving), remain 10 years.
• Speeding violations in Excess of 100 MPH, remain 7 years.
• Minor convictions (such as speeding, unsafe lane change, etc.), remain 3 years.

The California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) maintains a chart of how points are assigned, based upon the particular vehicle code section.  Click DMV Point Chart to link to the official chart on the department's website...

A traffic accident for driving unsafely counts as one (1) point. Any accidents you contributed to or were responsible or at fault for, are normally counted as one point. If you are convicted of any serious offenses such as reckless driving, DUI, hit-and-run, or speeding in excess of 100 MPH, you would incur two (2) points under California law.

You will lose your privilege (via suspension or revocation) to drive in California, and be considered a negligent operator by the state, whenever your California driving record reflects at least the following point counts:

4 points incurred within 12 months; or
6 points incurred within 24 months; or
8 points incurred within 36 months.

You may be entitled to a higher point count (6, 8, or 10 points) if you request and appear for a hearing and if 4, 6, or 8 points were not obtained in a Class C vehicle.  A violation received in a commercial vehicle carries one and one-half times the normal point count. A Class A or B driver who does not have an endorsement or a special certificate (such as a HazMat endorsement) may be allowed two additional points before being considered a negligent operator by the DMV.

Convictions reported by other states are added to your California driving record and may result in license sanctions. The converse is also true - out of state licensees who are convicted of an offense in California, will generally always have that conviction reported to their home state.  There is an Interstate Driver's License Compact - of which the majority of U.S. states belong - which require member states, such as California, to report vehicle code convictions to a driver's home state. 

Note: When a California-licensed commercial driver is cited in a noncommercial vehicle, the driver may be eligible to attend a TVS or traffic violator school under California Vehicle Code (CVC) §42005(c), in order to avoid the negligent operator points.  If an eligible CDL holder completes TVS, will he/she avoid Negligent Operator Points on their DMV record ? Generally speaking, Yes.  If a CDL holder completes a TVS program, will the eligible offense remain confidential, and not be disclosed to motor carriers, insurance companies, etc.? Generally speaking, No.

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Felicia Woods-Yates, 
Attorney at Law


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