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Point system reviewed

February 26, 2011

Effective Feb. 16, 2011, two points will be charged against your driving record for a violation of using a hand-held cell phone. This has been adequately covered by the media and does not require further discussion.

But perhaps this is a good opportunity to review the point system for licensed drivers in New York state. The point system is used to identify persistent violators as points are assigned to various moving traffic violations, not only on public highways, roads, and streets, but also in parking lots open to the public, such as in shopping centers and businesses.

The point values charged against your record are based on the date you commit the violation, not the date you are convicted in court. If you acquire 11 or more points within 18 months your license will be suspended.

Most moving traffic violations have a specific number of points assigned. However, the number of points charged for speeding depends on how much above the speed limit you are traveling. As you can see in the accompanying table, driving 40 mph over the speed limit gets you 11 points and will require immediate license suspension.

This is tame compared with speeding in the Province of Ontario, where 30 mph (50 kilometers per hour) over the posted limit will result in your vehicle being impounded as well as revocation of your license.

You can reduce your point total by up to four points by taking an approved "Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention Course." However, completion of a point reduction course cannot prevent a mandatory suspension or revocation.

You should be aware that insurance companies may also have point systems of their own, and should not be confused with the Department of Motor Vehicle point system.



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