MVD Points System in Arizona

How do you get them, and what happens if you get too many.

What are Points?

Before we get into points, we have to cover a few definitions used when discussing points.


Some Definitions


is the Arizona Department of Transportation.


is the Motor Vehicle Division of the Arizona Department of Transportation. To get a driver license, you might go to the MVD office, which is operated by ADOT. ADOT and MVD can often be used interchangeably.

Corrective Action

is what ADOT calls the things they do to drivers, like license suspensions or a traffic survival school assignment.

Corrective Action Notice

is the letter that ADOT sends to drivers stating what corrective action is being taken and when.


Drivers are always worried about points, but points are only relevant to one thing – Is the MVD going to do something to the driver? Points are a weighting scheme that ADOT uses to weight the severity of violations and determine if action needs to be taken against the driver. That’s the only purpose of points. No one else cares about points. The court doesn’t care about points. Insurance doesn’t care about points. Insurance might still jack your premiums for a violation, but it’s not because of the points – it’s because of the actual violation.

How do you get points?

A driver only get spoints when they have been found responsible or guilty of a traffic violation. Courts use the word “responsible” for civil violations, and “guilty” for criminal violations. For convenience, we’re just going to say “responsible” here. When a driver is found responsible for a traffic violation, the court transmits that finding to the MVD. This usually occurs within 24 hours. The MVD will then add that violation to the driver’s MVD record.

The violation is added to the driver’s history when MVD gets notice, but the date on the actual driving history will show as the date of violation. If you obtain a copy of your driving record from ADOT, at the bottom of the first page you will see any points you have. There will be a 12 month window, and a 36 month window. More on that later. 


Can you get rid of points?

No. There is nothing you can do to get rid of points once they hit your driving record. The points will age, and after 36 months, will no longer be reflected on your driving record.

Example of an Arizona driver license motor vehicle record

Accumulation of Points

There are two important time frames in the MVD points system.

12 Months

Accumulate between 8 and 12 points in a twelve month period, the MVD will take corrective action, which means either an order to attend Traffic Survival School (TSS), or, in rare cases, the MVD may simply suspend the driver’s license. If a driver is eligible for Traffic Survival School (typically that means, not having attended TSS in the last 24 months) and the MVD orders Traffic Survival School, that can avoid a license suspension.

If a driver is ineligible for Traffic Survival School, that typically results in driving privileges being suspended for 3 months. Accumulate between 13 and 17 points in a 12 month period, Traffic Survival School is not an option, and driving privileges will be suspended for 3 months. Accumulate between 18 and 23 points in a 12 month period, typically driving privileges will be suspended for 6 months.

36 Months

Accumulate 24 points or more in a 36 month period, and driving privileges will be suspended for a year.

For purposes of calculating points over a particular time period, the MVD uses the date of the violation, not the date the court entered a judgment of responsible or guilty. Because of this, it is possible that a violation that was not resolved for a significant period of time could result in a corrective action because, once resolved, there is a 12-month period (or 36-month period) that contains too many points, even if that is not the most recent relevant time period.

When Do Points Expire?

We handle hundreds of traffic cases each year, so it’s probably no surprise that we are frequently asked, “when do those points expire?” This question is often asked when defendants are considering their options, whether to take defensive driving or just pay the fine, or to take a plea offer, or to hire an attorney to challenge an alleged traffic violation. To understand the answer to this question, it is first necessary to learn about the MVD points system in Arizona, and how information is reflected on a driver’s Motor Vehicle Record (MVR, see example above).

The image above shows the current format of a 39-month Arizon MVR (driver license motor vehicle record). When a driver is found guilty or responsible for a traffic violation, the court reports the judgment to the MVD, and the MVD puts the violation on the driver’s MVR, where it stays, indefinitely. The points assessed for the violation are now reflected on the MVR. 

As to the original question, about when these points expire: As discussed above, there are two time periods that matter: 12 months, and 36 months. Accumulate too many points within any 12 month or 36 month period, and the MVD will issue a corrective action notice. Once a violation is older than 12 months, the associated points matter much less, and once the violation is older than 36 months, the associated points hardly matter at all, even though the violation will still be reflected on the MVR.

If you are concerned about the number of points on your record, you may request a 39-month MVR online. A 5-year or 10-year MVR is also available, but the 39-month MVR should cover everything that could likely impact your license status.

Drivers Under 18 Years of Age

The MVD points system is not the same for drivers under 18. If a driver under 18 is found responsible or guilty of a traffic violation, it will automatically result in an order to attend Traffic Survival School, even if that is the only violation on the driver’s record. A second traffic violation for an under-18 driver will result in a 3 month suspension, and a third violation for an under-18 driver will result in a 6 month suspension. There are a number of other crimes that are not related to driving but that when committed by someone under 18 years of age result in a license suspension, such as certain drug and alcohol related crimes and certain crimes involving graffiti. As with any legal matter with potentially serious consequences, such as those possibly impacting driving privileges, it is always a good idea to seek competent legal advice before making any decisions.

Calculating Points Totals

In the past, the MVD just added up the points for every violation that hit your MVR. So if you had 3 violations on one ticket, and each violation was 8 points, you got 24 points all at once.

Now, MVD will apply points for the highest point violation on a ticket. So in that same scenario with 3 8-point violations, a driver would get 8 points even if all three violations hit their MVR.

Points Values for Common Violations

8-Point Violations

6-Point Violations

  • Leaving the scene of an accident

4-Point Violations

  • Causing death or serious injury by moving violation

3-Point Violations

    2-Point Violations

    • Red light violations
    • Unsafe lane change
    • Failure to yield
    • HOV lane violations
    • Following too closely
    • Improper position for turn
    • And most other minor moving violations

    No-Point Violations

    • Traffic violations that are not moving violations do not have points. This includes parking violations and documentary violations like expired registration or insurance-related violations.

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