Traffic Tickets & Car Insurance

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How do tickets impact my driving record?

If you recently received a ticket for speeding, causing an accident, or drunk driving, you may be wondering how these citations will impact your driving record. Driving records are maintained by the DMV to determine if you’re a safe motorist while on the road. There are many different ways through which tickets and driving violations can impact your driving record.

In most cases, tickets cause “points” to add up against your record. The more serious your citation, the higher the number of points that will add up. And if you reach a specific threshold, you may end up having to take a defensive driving course- or even getting your license suspended. Therefore, it’s important for you to know the cause and effect relationships between tickets, driving records, and insurance premiums.

Driving Citations

Types of driving Tickets/Citations

Driving citations are issued when you're found to be in violation of traffic laws, or after being involved in an accident for which you're at fault. Citations can be broadly categorized as moving or non-moving violations. Moving violations include any traffic offenses that affect your vehicle while in motion. Some of the most common moving citations are:

  • Speeding
  • DUI
  • Reckless driving
  • Running a red light
  • Driving without a license
  • Hit and run
  • Racing
  • Distracted driving

Non-moving violations are those that occur when your vehicle isn’t in motion. Some of the most common non-moving violations include:

  • Parking citations
  • Expired tags
  • Broken headlights or tail lights

Understanding the points system

In most states, driving violations are tied to a specific ticket and a certain number of points. For example, speeding may result in a $200 ticket and 2-3 points against your driving record. You should be aware of your state’s points system and how each citation may result in the accumulation of points.

The good news is that points don’t remain on your driving record forever. They’re usually deleted after 1-3 years, depending on the specific violation and your state. There’s a difference between the points used by DMVs and insurance companies. Most insurers us their own point system to determine your driving record and the premiums that you’ll end up paying.

On the other hand, the DMV uses its points to assess whether you’re a safe driver and to determine any penalties that might apply. For example, many states will issue you with a warning letter after accumulating 6 DMV points. At 9 points, you may be required to complete a defensive driving course. And if you end up with 12 points, your license may be suspended for 6 months.

How long do citations stay on your driving record?

After being issued with a ticket for a driving violation, you may be wondering how long it will remain on your record. The length of time will be determined by your state, the nature of your violation, and your subsequent driving record moving forward. Some states have tickets remain for 3, 5, or up to 10 years after the citation was issued.

If your driving record is particularly dented, you may end up with limited driving privileges, a suspended license, or higher insurance rates. Repeat violations are also likely to cause your ticket to remain on the driving record for a longer time. For example, multiple DUI infractions may end up on your record for 5-10 years. Most minor infractions (such as slightly overspeeding and making an illegal turn) won’t last on your driving record for more than 3 years. Once the specified period is over, the accumulated points and citation will come off your driving record.

Impact of tickets on insurance coverage

Tickets and driving violations will also affect your insurance coverage. If you’ve accumulated multiple tickets, auto insurers may view you as a high-risk driver and thus charge higher premiums.

While most insurance companies will use their own points system to assess your driving record, the basic idea is the same as that of DMV points- more serious citations will result in higher points and higher premiums. Tickets may also reduce your coverage options and make it harder to find the policy of your choice.

  • Higher insurance premiums

When calculating how much you’ll pay for coverage, auto insurers will take into account your overall driving record. Most companies have access to your entire driving history, but will mostly consider violations within the past 3-5 years. Drivers with a clean record are more likely to enjoy lower rates than those with recent violations. In fact, having specific types of tickets on your record could increase your premiums significantly. Drivers with a DUI charge, reckless driving, and racing will receive among the highest increases in premium.

Your auto insurance company regularly reviews your driving record to determine whether they should make adjustments in coverage. Your record will be revised at the time of application and at the time of renewing your policy. Tickets accumulated during this time may result in higher rates.

Insurance premium increases by type of violation

Wondering just how much your recent ticket may affect your monthly premiums? Here are some average increases in premium cost- based on the type of violation that the driver incurred.

DUI first offense- 89% increase in premium rate

DUI second offense- 160% increase

Hit and run- 87% increase

Speeding by +30mph (or more) over the limit- 30% increase

Texting while driving- 24% increase

Failing to stop- 19% increase

Racing- 71% increase

Source: https://www.carinsurance.com/how-long-do-tickets-stay-on-record.aspx

You will typically have to pay higher premiums until the offense is dropped from your driving record. This period can be anywhere between 3-10 years, depending on your state.

After the offense has cleared and you’ve maintained a safe driving record, your rates may eventually drop back to normal.

  • Fewer coverage options

A hike in rates is not the only consequence you’ll face as a result of a ticket. You may also end up receiving limited coverage options from your auto insurer. For example, your limit of liability may be reduced, or you may not be able to insure a specific type of vehicle (such as an antique or luxury car). Having fewer coverage options available may limit your driving flexibility while on the road.

The good news is that only serious violations such as a DUI, racing, and reckless driving could result in limited coverage by your insurer. Such violations may also result in a cancellation of your policy after the coverage period is over. And if your policy is canceled, finding a new one may be quite a hassle.

How to save on coverage costs after getting a ticket

As much as tickets may impact your driving record and auto insurance rates, you can still save on costs by following the suggestions below.

1. Shop around for coverage options and compare different quotes

You should also look for insurers that offer coverage options geared towards the nature of your driving citations.

2. Ask the insurer to review your driving record afresh

There may have been tickets that have been dropped off your record or happened many years ago.

3. Take a defensive driving course

A defensive driving course will not only reduce the accumulated points from your driving record, but it will also result in more competitive premiums from auto insurance companies.

First offense

89% increase in premium rate

DUI second offense

160% increase

Hit and run traffic violations

87% increase

Speeding by +30mph (or more) over the limit

30% increase

Texting while driving traffic violations

24% increase

Failing to stop traffic violations

19% increase

Racing traffic violations

71% increase

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