How Does the Connecticut Points System Work?
Interviewer: In Connecticut, how does a driver incur points after receiving a ticket for a traffic violation?
Jack: That is a tough question to answer because it involves 2 separate entities: The Connecticut judiciary system and the Connecticut DMV. They are separate and apart from each other but do work together. It’s the state or local police that issue traffic violations to drivers. The infractions are all reported to the DMV only if the driver pleads guilty or is proven guilty. The DMV is the agency that assesses and manages the driver’s license points. The courts have nothing to do with the point system in Connecticut.
The Connecticut DMV Manages the Points You Incur on Your License
Interviewer: What is the purpose of the DMV point system in Connecticut?
Like many other states across the nation, Connecticut uses a points system to keep drivers safe and responsible. Points are assessed whenever a driver commits a traffic violation; the amount of points depends on the severity of the actual violation. Fear of accumulating points is, in theory, supposed to motivate people to drive safely and follow Connecticut’s traffic laws.
Interviewer: What are the consequences of receiving points on your driver’s license in Connecticut?
Jack: Accruing points on your driver’s license can result in 2 major consequences for Connecticut drivers. First, your car insurance carrier will raise rates if you have points on your license. Second, if you accumulate too many points, then your Connecticut driver’s license can be suspended.
Interviewer: How many points can you get on your Connecticut license before it’ll be suspended?
Jack: If you incur 6 points, you can expect a warning letter from the DMV. If you accumulate 10 or more points, your license will be suspended for 30 days. Get another 10 points and you’ll lose your license for up to 24 months. The points remain in effect for 24 months after the date that they were added to your license.
Points Remain on Your Driver’s License for 24 Months
Interviewer: As you receive an infraction for let’s say, speeding, those points are going to be on your license for 24 months until they “fall off.” Is that right?
Jack: Yes, points will remain on your license until they date they are set to be removed.
Interviewer: Does the severity of a traffic offense go down over time? Let’s say you were convicted of a moving violation and you received 3 points on your license. Would you lose a point per year until all 3 points were gone? Or would you lose all 3 points at once?
The Point System Ranges from One to Five Points Added to Your License
Jack: No, the severity of a traffic offense does not go down or get reduced over time. The Connecticut point system ranges from 1 to 5. You can get anywhere from 1 to 4 points if you’re convicted of traffic infractions. You’ll receive 5 points if your driving resulted in a negligent homicide or you were operating a school bus at excessive speed.
Interviewer: If you get a traffic violation in New York, will any points you get be transferred to Connecticut?
Jack: Connecticut will not usually assess points against your Connecticut driver’s license for out-of-state traffic offenses. However, if you fail to respond to the out-of-state traffic ticket, Connecticut will immediately suspend your driver’s license. Just FYI New York drivers won’t receive points on their license for tickets received in Connecticut.
It’s important for Connecticut drivers to remember that although points will not be assessed against you for most out-of-state violations, the offenses can still show up on your driving record. In addition, your insurance carrier will be able to raise your rates because of the violation.
Interviewer: What tickets give you points on your license in Connecticut?
Jack: Connecticut police officers and state troopers can charge you with a variety of offenses that can carry DMV points as a penalty. The offenses that carry points include speeding, failure to obey a stop sign, failure to obey a traffic light (e.g., running a red light), running a school bus stop sign, failure to signal, operating a vehicle at an unreasonable rate of speed, and reckless driving. The list goes on, but those are some of the more common violations people get stopped for.
Interviewer: When are points actually added onto your license?
Jack: That’s a good question. Points are not added until the driver is convicted, or found guilty, of the offense. Just receiving a ticket or even being arrested for a moving violation doesn’t automatically add points to your license. The state of Connecticut makes it easy to plead guilty and pay the fine. But it’s always best to consult with a traffic violations attorney in Connecticut to see if you can have the charges dismissed or perhaps pay a lower fine and receive fewer points on your license.
A Suspended License in Connecticut Can Be Serious
Interviewer: If Connecticut driver has had their license suspended, how do they get it back?
Jack: If your license has been suspended in Connecticut, and you are eligible to have it reinstated, then just know that it won’t automatically be reinstated. You’ll first be required to pay a $175 restoration fee to the Connecticut DMV. Soon after the payment is made, either online or by mail, you’ll receive a restoration notice letting you know that driving privilege is restored.
However, this does not mean the person can go jump in their car. He or she has to closely follow the follow the instructions listed on the letter.
The good news is that drivers can typically get a new license through the mail or online, which means you won’t have to go to the DMV in person to obtain a new license. You cannot drive until you have a valid driver’s license in your possession.
Interviewer: Let’s say someone’s license is suspended, but they drive anyway. What are the consequences in that situation?
Jack: It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in the state of Connecticut if your license has been suspended or revoked. If you’re pulled over and the trooper realized that your license has been suspended, you will you face harsh penalties. As a first-time offender, you will spend 3 months in jail and have to pay up to $200 in fines.
In addition, getting caught while driving with a suspended license can make restoring your driving privileges more difficult. This means that after the original suspension is over, you still might not be able to get your license back. In addition, the jail time, fines, and other penalties increase if you are caught driving with a suspended license multiple times.
Interviewer: What if someone absolutely needs a car to get to work, to school, or to receive medical treatments?
Jack: There is something called “driving under suspension alternatives” that the court may consider. For example, you can apply for a work or education permit. This will allow you to drive back and forth to work or school while your license is suspended.
Interviewer: In some states, drivers can take a defensive driver’s course to reduce the amount of points they’re carrying on their license. Is there anything like that in Connecticut?
Jack: No, the point system in Connecticut does not currently have a point reduction program. Points will remain on your driving record for 24 months from the date that they were assessed. Then they will be removed. The Connecticut point system is pretty cut and dry. The only thing that removes points is time.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help You Determine Your Best Course of Action.
Interviewer: Is it worth it for someone to fight a traffic violation in court? If so, do they need a lawyer?
Jack: There are pros and cons of going to court. It really depends on the driver’s circumstances and the penalties they are facing. If the driver is facing harsh penalties like jail time or a loss of license, then it’s best to try and fight it and at least get the charges reduced if not dropped all together.
If they do decide to go to court then I always recommend that they consult with an experienced traffic ticket attorney who understands the Connecticut judicial system as well as the points system in Connecticut. Sometimes it is easier and it’s the best choice for them to pay the fine. If that’s the case, I let my clients know right away. But in many cases, it’s worth contesting the traffic violation. If I think the ticket can be dismissed or the charges can be dropped, then I will fight for my client’s rights every step of the way.