Demerit Points and Traffic Violations: What You Need to Know in Illinois
Traffic violations can be frustrating and overwhelming, especially when they come with the risk of accumulating demerit points on your driving record. In Illinois, traffic offenses can result in demerit points, seriously affecting driving privileges and insurance rates. However, it is essential to understand the system, the types of violations, and how demerit points are assigned.
Understanding the Point System in Illinois
In Illinois, the Secretary of State’s office employs a point system to monitor and penalize drivers for traffic offenses. Each violation carries a specific number of demerit points, and accumulating too many points within a designated period can lead to license suspension or revocation.
The following are some common traffic violations and their corresponding demerit points in Illinois:
- Speeding: Typically, speeding violations result in 5 to 50 demerit points, depending on the severity of the offense.
- Reckless Driving: This serious offense can lead to 55 demerit points.
- Failure to Stop at a Red Light: Running a red light carries 20 demerit points.
- Improper Lane Usage: This violation results in 10 demerit points.
- Following Too Closely: Tailgating can lead to 25 demerit points.
Impact of Demerit Points
Accumulating demerit points can have several consequences for drivers in Illinois. Firstly, your insurance rates are likely to increase as insurance companies view more demerit points as a sign of higher risk. Additionally, excessive demerit points can result in the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
In Illinois, if you accumulate 15 or more demerit points within a 12-month period, your license may be suspended. Subsequent violations may lead to longer suspension periods or even license revocation. It is crucial to note that some offenses, such as driving under the influence (DUI), can result in immediate license suspension or revocation, regardless of the demerit points accrued.
Furthermore, demerit points can stay on your driving record for several years, potentially impacting future insurance rates and employment opportunities that require a clean driving record.
Steps to Handle Traffic Violations
If you find yourself accused of traffic violations and facing demerit points, here are some important steps to follow:
- Understand the Allegations: Familiarize yourself with the violations you are accused of, the corresponding demerit points, and the potential consequences.
- Consult an Attorney: Consider seeking legal advice from a traffic violation attorney specializing in Illinois traffic laws. They can guide you through the legal process and help you explore potential defenses or strategies to minimize the impact on your driving record.
- Contest the Allegations: Depending on the circumstances, you may contest the traffic violation in court. Presenting a strong defense backed by evidence or witnesses can sometimes lead to reduced charges or dismissal.
- Complete a Defensive Driving Course: In some cases, attending a defensive driving course can help offset demerit points or demonstrate your commitment to safe driving.
- Monitor Your Driving Record: Regularly check your driving record to ensure the accuracy of demerit points and take proactive steps to rectify any discrepancies.
Traffic violations and demerit points can seriously impact your driving privileges, insurance rates, and future opportunities in Illinois. Understanding the point system, the consequences of demerit points, and the necessary steps to handle traffic violations is crucial for every driver.
By staying informed, seeking legal counsel when needed, and adopting safe driving practices, you can navigate the process more confidently and potentially mitigate the impact of traffic violations on your record. Prevention is key, so always prioritize safe and responsible driving to avoid the hassle and potential consequences of traffic violations.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.