Different states have varying systems of graduated warnings and punishments for drivers who are convicted of traffic violations. Typically, these systems work by assigning "points" to a person's driving record. The nature of the infraction or conviction will determine the number of points assessed. When points reach a certain number in a given period of time, the state imposes sanctions on the driver.
In California, this point system is officially known as the Negligent Operator Training System. The idea underlying NOTS is to identify drivers who demonstrate a proclivity for negligent driving, and to restrict their driving privileges where necessary.
NOTS uses an extensive schedule of violations that can result in having one or two points assessed against your driving record. One point violations can result from behaviors such as following too closely, passing illegally, and disobeying a traffic signal.
Two point violations generally involve behaviors that the law considers to be reckless, or which involve driving under the influence of alcohol or intoxicants, or car accidents which involve injury or property damage.
Some violations that occur outside of California can also result in the assessment of points.
When a driver accumulates enough points within a specific period of time, the state will begin to take actions against that person, classified by levels I through IV:
- A level I violation results in a warning letter.
- A level II violation generates a notice of intent to suspend.
- A level III violation triggers a combination six-month suspension and one year probation, which run concurrently.
- A level IV violation occurs if a driver commits a violation while on level III probation. These violations can result in extended probation periods for the first or second violation of an existing probation, and a one-year drivers' license revocation for third violation.
Note that this post only provides an overview of the NOTS. In its full form it is highly complex, and includes procedures for hearings, certain conditions that may result in higher point counts, and considerations for collision responsibility and mitigating circumstances. While these additional layers of complexity can make the system harder to understand, they also make it better able to apply to drivers on an individual basis.
For those wishing to learn more about the NOTS you can read about it online through the California Department of Motor Vehicles or consult with a knowledgeable traffic attorney.