Traffic Tickets and Car Insurance Rates

When car insurance companies determine your premiums, one of the biggest factors they look at is your history of traffic tickets. Statistically, when you have a driving record that shows more moving violations and speeding tickets, your insurance company views you as more likely to get into an accident and cost the car insurance company money.

You cannot predict exactly how much your car insurance will go up after a ticket, but your rates are likely to increase with a higher number of traffic tickets and more severe violations.

Tickets and Moving Violations

You can get a traffic ticket for any one of a number of seemingly minor infractions, and a ticket for any moving violation (i.e., an infraction you make when driving rather than parked) can affect your car insurance rates.

There are many moving violations that can affect your rates, ranging from minor violations such as littering to very serious violations such as excessive speeding.

The Impact of Tickets on Your Premium

Every company has a different policy when it comes to traffic tickets. For example, one company may raise your rates for 3 years, and another may apply a surcharge, which can be removed after one year if you have no more speeding tickets or other traffic infractions on your driving record.

If you have been a long-time customer with a good driving record, one ticket might not significantly affect your car insurance rates. For example, you might not see any kind of increase in the cost of your insurance for one speeding ticket.

How the Severity of the Violation Affects Rates

While the adjustments to premiums for moving violations vary among insurance companies and the driver’s record, you can expect to see bigger rate increases for more serious infractions.

For example:

  • Driving with a broken headlight is a low-impact ticket.
  • A citation for speeding at 10 miles over the speed limit can have moderate effects on your car insurance rates.
  • A DUI conviction can have severe consequences when it comes to your rates.

Speeding Tickets

If you are ticketed for speeding, how much you were exceeding the speed limit matters as well.

Drivers ticketed for driving 15 miles above the posted speed limit will see their car insurance rates increase more than drivers who are ticketed for going only 5 miles above the speed limit.

Excessive speeding is linked to higher auto accident rates, which makes you a much bigger risk in the eyes of your car insurance company.

Traffic Tickets from Other States

If you are issued a ticket while driving outside of your home state, you could still face a rise in the cost of your car insurance.

Most states participate in a program that facilitates the sharing of information between states regarding traffic tickets/moving violations. This means that the ticket you obtain while out of state will most likely show up on your driving record/Motor Vehicle Report. Once it does, your state’s DMV will determine its effect on your record.

From there, your car insurance provider will decide whether the violation will result in an increase in your premium.

DMV Points and Your Rates

Many states use a points system through which you are assigned a certain number of points for each moving violation that you receive.

More serious moving violations are associated with higher point values, and they often stay on your driving record for longer periods of time, meaning they can impact your rates for longer.

The most severe violations may stay on your record permanently, depending on your state of residence.

The more points you add to your driving record, the more you can expect your auto insurance rates to increase.

For more information, please see our Driving Records and Car Insurance page.

Avoiding Higher Car Insurance Premiums

Drivers who are concerned about the impact of traffic tickets on auto insurance rates are advised not to admit guilt when they receive a ticket. If you admit guilt, you won’t be able to contest the ticket at a later date.

Keep in mind that signing a ticket isn’t an admission of guilt, but paying the fine is. Don’t pay a fine for a traffic ticket until you’ve decided not to contest the ticket.

It’s often a good idea to call your auto insurance provider to ask how a ticket will affect your rates before making any decision regarding your ticket.
In some cases, you can have a traffic ticket erased from your record, so it won’t affect your auto insurance rates. Options to get a violation off your record include:

  • Enrolling in traffic school.
  • Taking a defensive driving course.

Some states will allow you to complete an online course in order to have your ticket erased from your driving record.

Of course, the best way to avoid expensive premiums and get good car insurance rates is to obey all traffic laws and drive safely to avoid moving violations and accidents altogether. Having a clean driving record is the best way to get cheap car insurance.