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?









The Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) is based on "points" and involves a series of warning letters - and progressive sanctions - against a person's driving privilege.  A license revocation would be the ultimate sanction...

A DMV hearing officer would evaluate if a revocation, suspension, restriction, probation or no action is appropriate - based upon the degree of negligence involved in the offense(s), and other related factors such as the risk you pose to future traffic safety.

Here is a link which will explain an overview of the system in the State of California...Guidelines and Actions of the NOTS.

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.

IMPORTANT CAVEAT:  There is a major exception to the above point count guidelines for California CDL holders.  It is as follows...

Any type of a "serious traffic violation" incurred in a CMV, may result in a license suspension, if you have been convicted of at least two (2) serious violations, within a three (3) year period.  Here are some common examples of serious violations in a CMV, under California law:

1.  Speeding in a CMV in excess of 15 mph or more above the posted speed limit - California Vehicle Code Section 22406.1(a) states that "A person who operates a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 15210, upon a highway at a speed exceeding a posted speed limit established under this code by 15 miles per hour or more, is guilty of a misdemeanor."
2.  Reckless driving;
3.  Improper or erratic lane changes;
4.  Following a vehicle too closely;
5.  Fatal traffic accidents;
6.  Operating a CMV without obtaining a CDL;
7.  Operating a CMV without having a CDL in the driver's possession;
8.  Driving a CMV without the proper class of CDL and/or endorsements.

You will temporarily lose your CDL for the above listed "serious traffic violations" as follows:

For at least 60 days - if two (2) serious traffic violations were incurred within a 3-year period involving a CMV; or
For at least 120 days - if three (3) or more serious traffic violations were incurred within a 3-year period involving a CMV. 

Convictions reported by other states are added to a 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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