How Long Does a Traffic Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record?
Drivers convicted of traffic misdemeanors often wonder how long these marks will stay on their record. The answer varies depending on the violation’s severity. Generally, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will assign “demerit points.” The fewer points on your driving record, the better. Getting multiple-point violations reduced to “non-point” infractions is possible to avoid license suspension, revocation, or a permanent blemish on your driving record.
Removal of DMV demerit points is unrelated to the date a traffic misdemeanor is expunged from a criminal record and has nothing to do with points assigned by private insurance companies. Convictions for traffic violations in other states can also translate to demerits on your Virginia DMV record. The idea is to get serious traffic felonies dismissed or amended to non-point violations, so your driving record has no demerits and only “safe” driving points. An experienced Fairfax traffic lawyer can help.
Law Authorizing Virginia DMV to Assign Points
Code of Virginia §46.200 authorizes the DMV to administer motor vehicle “license, registration, and title laws” as well as to “issue, suspend, and revoke driver’s licenses.” This power includes taking administrative action by assessing points against a Virginia driver’s license.
Traffic misdemeanors carrying multiple points can be reduced to non-point violations that do not stay on your record. The DMV also assigns one annual “safe driving” point – up to a maximum of five — for each year without a violation or license suspension.
Three-, Four-, and Six-Point Violations
Traffic violations are assigned three, four, or six points depending on their severity. Three-point violations can stay on your driving record for three to five years. Four-point violations vary, staying on your record for between three to 11 years. For example, failure to stop for a pedestrian is a four-point violation that will remain for three years, whereas “aggressive driving” remains for five. Operating a vehicle on a suspended license with a blood alcohol content of .02 percent or more is still a “four-point” violation but may stay on your record for 11 years.
Six-point violations are the most serious, lasting 11 years. However, 11 years is not “permanent.” Even if your six-point violation is driving while your license is revoked for driving while intoxicated (DWI), the conviction will only remain on your record for 11 years. It does not necessarily result in a permanent revocation. You can also try to get six-point offenses amended to non-point violations so that your record reflects only an infraction and payment of a fine.
Three Point Violations – Three Years
Common examples of three-point violations that stay on your record for three years may include:
- Improper passing
- Changing course after signaling
- Driving with excessive lights
- Driving without a Virginia license
Other three-point violations include failing to stop at an accident scene or report the crash. Drivers should note that speeding between one to nine miles per hour over the posted limit also results in three demerits but stays on your record for five years.
Four-Point Violations – Three, Five, or 11 Years
Failure to stop or yield is a four-point violation that stays on your record for three years. Speeding remains on your driving record for five years, regardless of whether you are driving five or 19 mph over the limit. “Aggressive” and “reckless” driving are both assigned four demerits, but the first violation stays on your record for five years while the second lasts for 11 years.
Six Point Violations – 11 years
Reckless driving and DWI are common examples of six-point violations. Reckless driving convictions that remain on your record for 11 years usually have aggravating circumstances, such as:
- Speeding over 85 mph
- Driving too fast for weather conditions
- Faulty brakes/improper control
A DWI causing “aggravated manslaughter” stays on your record for 11 years. The 11-year blemish also applies to driving on a suspended or revoked license or after being declared a “habitual offender.”
Contact an Attorney at Whitestone Young, PC
Our Fairfax, Virginia, criminal defense attorneys can help you minimize DMV demerits and keep your driving record clean. We know which traffic offenses leave a permanent stain and have helped thousands of Virginia drivers get felonies dismissed or misdemeanors reduced to non-point violations that will not stay on their record. Contact us at 703-591-0200 for a confidential legal consultation today.