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What are the consequences of being a risky and irresponsible driver?

Driving is a big responsibility. If you exhibit risky and irresponsible driving behaviors and do not follow traffic laws, you put yourself and others at risk of injuries, and even death. For this reason, all states, including California, have passed laws to suspend and revoke the licenses of unsafe and irresponsible drivers.

risky teen driver in accident

California tracks the level of unsafe and risky driving behaviors based on:

  • The number of tickets you receive.
  • The number of accidents for which you are at fault.
  • Reckless driving (this can be a serious offense).
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (this is a serious offense).
  • A hit and run or driving over 100 mph.

When you receive a ticket, drive recklessly, or have an accident, you will face the following consequences:

Fines and penalties.  Fines and penalties range based on the seriousness of the violation and situation. For example, a speeding ticket can range from $234 to $480 based on how fast you were driving over the speed limit. However, if you were driving over 100 mph, this can be a serious offense such as a misdemeanor or felony, and the fees and fines are much higher.

Negative points against your driving records.  You will receive one or two points against your DMV records each time you have a traffic violation or conviction. See our section on the California DMV Point System.

Increase in your insurance rate.  Once you have a traffic violation conviction or at-fault accident, and one or two points has counted against your record, your insurance rate more likely will increase.

Suspended or revoked driver's license.  If you repeatedly get into at-fault accidents or receive traffic violations, your driver's license may get suspended or revoked. If you commit serious offenses such as driving under the influence, your license may be suspended automatically.

A mandatory court appearance.  For a more serious offense, you are required to appear in court. This may require you to hire an attorney, which can cost you thousands of dollars to defend your action in court.

A mandatory educational program.  If you have too many accidents or traffic violations, you may be required to take additional driving education or defensive driving courses.  If you are convicted of DUI, you may be required to sign up and attend a DUI education program.

Jail time.  There are certain convictions that can have serious consequences. For example, DUI conviction, reckless driving, or speeding over 100 mph that resulted in the injury or death of others can require jail or even prison time in the California State Prison.