The lights flash, the siren sounds, and you’re pulled over by the side of the road as a police officer writes you a ticket. How embarrassing — and potentially expensive!
First, there’s the cost of the actual ticket, of course — and that initial expense varies widely, depending on the state and the driving violation. However, from reckless driving to not wearing your seat belt, the ticket you get may also increase the cost of your insurance. Over time, that can really add up.
The results of a recent study show just how much that ticket will raise your insurance rates. Check it out, and then read on for what you can do about it.
Tickets and your insurance rates
A study by Insurance.com compared a driver with a clean record to a driver with certain types of violations from six major insurance carriers in 10 ZIP codes in each state. Here are average increases for 15 common violations:
- DUI (first offense) — 79% increase
- Reckless driving — 73%
- Driving 30 mph or more over the speed limit– 30%
- Careless driving — 26%
- Texting while driving — 23%
- Driving 16 to 29 mph over the speed limit — 22%
- Improper turn — 20%
- Improper pass — 20%
- Following too closely — 20%
- Driving 1 to 15 mph over the speed limit — 20%
- Failure to yield — 20%
- Failure to stop — 19%
- Driving without a license — 12%
- Driving without insurance — 10%
- Seat belt infractions — 3%
It could be even worse; those are just averages. Your actual rate will depend on a variety of factors, including your age, sex, where you live, your marital status and how long you’ve been with your carrier.
How to prevent a rate hike
Traffic violations show up on your state driving record, which your insurance company accesses periodically. There are a few things you can do to keep a ticket from appearing on your driving record or to minimize the impact on your insurance rate.
Go to court. If you go to court, you may end up getting the ticket reduced to a lesser offense or having the case dismissed entirely. There are several reasons why a judge might dismiss your case. Among them:
- The officer who issued the ticket doesn’t appear in court.
- The ticket contains inaccurate information.
- You can prove you did not commit the offense.
Hire a lawyer. A lawyer could help your case. You’ll have to pay, but probably not too much.
Attend traffic school. Some states allow you to keep a violation off your record by attending traffic school. You can attend traffic school in person (many have night and weekend classes) or online, and you’ll have to pass a test. The fee to attend the school is usually small.
If you end up paying the fine, here are some steps to take going forward:
- Avoid getting pulled over again: This seems obvious, but remember that more violations will further increase your insurance rates. Keep your car maintained — no broken or malfunctioning lights — wear your seat belt, use your turn signals, drive safely and defensively, and renew your registration on time.
- Be patient: Your insurance company likely will eventually reduce your rate if you continue to drive without additional violations.
- Comparison shop for new insurance: Insurance companies treat violations differently, so another company may offer you a better rate. But don’t lie about past infractions. The company will be reviewing your driving record, even if you’ve moved to another state.
How do you keep the cost of driving manageable? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.