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Car accidents come with far-reaching consequences, especially when they result in physical injuries. Apart from monetary and emotional setbacks, one repercussion that often goes overlooked is the impact a car accident can have on your driving record and insurance premiums.

If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident in Florida, knowing how long it will stay on your record and its implications for license points is important.

Factors That Influence Duration

In Florida, the duration a car accident remains on your driving record can vary from as few as three years to indefinitely. Several factors, including the severity of the accident and whether you were at fault, will determine the exact duration. Here's a breakdown:

  1. Minor Accidents: Minor accidents or fender benders involving minimal damage and no injuries usually remain on your record for three to five years. These accidents may include rear-end collisions, minor sideswipes, or parking lot mishaps.
  2. Major Accidents: Accidents involving significant damage to vehicles, injuries, or fatalities tend to stay on your record for much longer. In Florida, these accidents can remain on your driving record for up to seven years or indefinitely, depending on the severity and circumstances.
  3. Fault Determination: Florida is a "no-fault" state when it comes to auto insurance, meaning each driver's insurance, through their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, covers their resulting medical expenses and lost income up to a certain limit regardless of who is at fault. However, fault can still play a role when it comes to your driving record and insurance premiums, as well as any personal injury claim you may be able to pursue outside of the no-fault PIP system. If you're found at fault for an accident, it is more likely to stay on your record longer and have more significant repercussions.
  4. Criminal Offenses: If the accident the accident also resulted in criminal charges, such as DUI (Driving Under the Influence), the consequences may extend beyond the typical duration, and sometimes as long as 10 years.
  5. Traffic Violations: Traffic citations issued in connection to the accident, such as speeding or running a red light, will also stay on your driving record for a specified period, typically three to seven years, depending on the violation. For drivers with a history of multiple accidents or traffic violations, each subsequent incident can compound the effect on their driving record.
  6. Legal Proceedings: Legal proceedings stemming from the accident, such as civil lawsuits or insurance claims, may also impact the duration for which the accident remains on the driving record. Settlements or court judgments can influence how the accident is reflected in driving records.
  7. Driver's Cooperation: Cooperation with law enforcement, compliance with legal requirements following the accident, and participation in driver education or safety programs can mitigate driving record consequences. Conversely, failure to fulfill obligations such as providing insurance information or attending court hearings may exacerbate the impact.

License Points After a Florida Car Accident

In addition to knowing how long a car accident stays on your record, it's worth knowing how license points work in Florida.

License points are a system used by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) to track driving infractions and determine the status of your driver's license. Here's how it works:

  1. Accumulating Points: Each traffic violation or at-fault accident results in a certain number of points being added to your driving record. The number of points assigned depends on the severity of the violation or accident. For example, speeding might result in 3-4 points, while causing an accident could add 6 points or more.
  2. Consequences of Accumulating Points: As you accumulate points on your driving record, you may face various consequences, including:
    • License Suspension: If you accumulate too many points within a specific period, your driver's license may be suspended. The length of the suspension depends on the number of points and your driving history.
  • Higher Insurance Premiums: Insurance companies often review your driving record when determining your premiums. A record with multiple points can lead to significantly higher insurance rates or even denial of coverage.
  • Mandatory Courses: In some cases, the DHSMV may require you to complete a driver improvement course or defensive driving course to reduce points on your record and avoid further penalties.
  • Impact on Employment: Certain professions that require driving, such as commercial trucking or delivery services, may have strict policies regarding driving records. Accumulating points could jeopardize your employment in these fields.
  1. Point Reduction and Removal: Fortunately, points on your driving record are not permanent. In Florida, you can attend a driver improvement course to reduce points on your record. Additionally, points are automatically removed after a specified period, typically three to five years, depending on the violation.

How Driving Record & License Points Can Play a Role in Personal Injury Cases

Understanding the implications of license points and a poor driving history is essential to protecting your driving privileges. And while license points may not directly determine fault in an accident case, they can certainly impact how a court perceives a driver's credibility and responsibility.

A history of traffic violations and accidents, for example, can be used by insurance companies and defense attorneys to undermine a victim's case, suggesting a pattern of negligent behavior and implying that they could very well be at fault for an accident in which they were injured – even when that’s not the case. This can greatly jeopardize a victim’s ability to secure the compensation they deserve.

However, a person’s driving record can work for them. In cases where fault is disputed, a clean driving record can strengthen a victim's position and credibility.

Perry & Young is an award-winning personal injury practice that’s recovered millions of dollars for motor vehicle accident victims across Northwest Florida. If you have questions about your rights and options after being hurt in an accident, we’re available to help from office locations in Panama City, Tallahassee, Panama City Beach, and Marianna. Call (850) 215-7777 or contact us online to speak with a lawyer.