One of the things that can change if you get a cited for a traffic offense is your driver’s license status. As minor offenses pile up on your driving record—or if you find yourself getting in trouble for a major infraction—then your license could be suspended, revoked, or otherwise limited. These actions against your license are known as status changes. Not only can they impact your ability to drive legally, but they can also impact your auto insurance rates.
What You Need to Know about Driver’s License Status
The important thing to remember in conversations about driver’s license status is driving is a privilege, not a right. Just as you can earn a driver’s license by taking a test and proving you are a knowledgeable, law-abiding driver, you can lose your driver’s license by proving the opposite. If you are repeatedly caught breaking traffic laws, or if you are convicted of a major offense like drunk driving, the state may change the status of your license to keep you off the road. The goal of these status changes is typically to keep other drivers safe.
Most states operate on a points system when it comes to driver’s licenses. If you accumulate a certain number of points over a set period, your license will be suspended or revoked.
States offer differing levels of leniency with their points programs, so it’s important to know what the system looks like where you live and drive. For instance, in Georgia, offenses range from 1-6 points and license suspension occurs if you accumulate 15 or more points in a 24-month period. Aggressive driving, the unlawful passing of a school bus, and driving more than 34 miles per hour over the speed limit are all six-point offenses while texting and driving is a one-point offense.
Other states have different systems—and some states don’t even use points—but the basic philosophy is similar. Simply accumulating points isn’t the only way you can end up with a suspended license, either. DUIs can sometimes lead to automatic license suspensions. Failing to take care of a traffic ticket will also lead to license suspension. Finally, if you are pulled over and cannot show proof of auto insurance, your license will likely be suspended.
License Status and Auto Insurance
Your license status can affect your auto insurance rates and coverage. Insurance companies pay attention to your driving record. They know people who receive more traffic citations tend to be more dangerous drivers. Since insurance companies want to control their level of risk whenever possible, they will react to a riskier driver in one of two ways: charging that person higher insurance rates or dropping their policy altogether.
Insurance companies take these steps even for point accumulations. If you have reached the point at which your license has been suspended, there is a good chance your insurance company will decide not to cover you anymore. Other status changes may cause your insurer to discontinue your coverage. For instance, if your license has been suspended, you may be able to apply for a restricted or “hardship” license. This license status limits your driving privileges, often only allowing you to drive to commute to work or school. You may have to negotiate with your insurance company to maintain coverage or work with your insurance broker to find a new provider that will 1) offer the high level of liability coverage you need and 2) willingly sell you coverage.
Simply put, driver’s license statuses are a crucial part of the equation when it comes to finding auto insurance—especially if you are expecting affordable coverage. To see what your license status looks like right now, use backgroundchecks.com to run a self-check on your driving record.