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The Long-Term Impact of Traffic Tickets on Your Auto Insurance

By Teri Dormer

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It can happen to anyone at any time. No matter how good of a driver you are or how well you obey the rules of the road, traffic citations are a pretty common fact of life.

Whether you accidentally missed a change in the speed limit or rear-ended someone in the parking lot, you’ll likely have a traffic ticket to show for the incident.

First, the good news: Accidents happen and, if you aren’t a repeat offender, basic violations like speeding or running a red light won’t result in a permanent loss of your license.

The bad news: Your driving record is forever, and some infractions can never be removed.

If you’ve recently gotten a speeding ticket or some type of traffic citation, you might be wondering how long the offense will impact your insurance and whether or not you’re going to have to pay more for your coverage premium. Here’s what you can expect.

How Long Do Traffic Tickets Stay On My Auto Insurance Record?

When it comes to your driving record, most laws are the same state by state. Depending on the severity of your traffic citation, you can expect the following incidents to be accessible by your car insurance for a set period of time:

  • Moving Violation: Typically defined by actions including speeding tickets or rolling through a stop sign, a moving violation will stay on your driving record for three years in almost every state.
  • An At-Fault Auto Accident: Like a moving violation, a ticket from an at-fault auto accident will stay on your record for three years, though auto insurance companies can access the data for up to five. Depending on your driving record and insurance policy, some form of “Good Driver” discount may save you from having to pay over time.
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI): One of the most dangerous and reprehensible traffic citations, receiving a ticket for a DUI will stay on your record for 3 years in most states, and up to 10 years in California.

Will A Traffic Ticket Raise My Auto Insurance Premiums?

The reality is that there’s no clear-cut answer to this question. Every insurance company has a different policy regarding traffic tickets and what impact, if any, they have on your premium.

There are a variety of factors about each infraction that can help you understand in advance if you’re going to be looking at a higher insurance bill in addition to paying your traffic ticket fines.

If you were issued a speeding ticket for going more than 15 miles per hour over the speeding limit, the chances of your insurance going up are higher compared to tickets issued at a slower speed.

Additionally, if you’ve gotten multiple infractions, or your traffic citation involved a reckless or dangerous behavior, insurance companies could see you as more of a liability in the future.

In most cases, you won’t see the increase in your insurance rates until your policy is up for renewal, at which point it might be smart to think about switching carriers for a more competitive rate.

What Options Do I Have For Dealing With A Traffic Ticket?

Have you recently been issued a speeding ticket or some other traffic citation? Consider these options as a way to minimize the cost of your traffic ticket fines and any impact on your insurance:

  • Attend traffic school to avoid adding points to your license.
  • Consider fighting the ticket in court if you believe it was issued unjustly.
  • Negotiate the traffic ticket penalty with the court.
  • Consider hiring a traffic ticket lawyer to fight on your behalf.
  • If all else fails, use an insurance quote tool to compare rates through other providers before accepting an increase in your premium.

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