You didn’t mean for it to happen. You were racing to get to work on time, or you forgot to buckle your seat belt before pulling out of a parking lot. All of a sudden, there are flashing lights in your rearview mirror, and your first thought is, “What will happen to my insurance rate now?”
Traffic tickets can wreak havoc on your finances, and not just because ticket prices have increased in most jurisdictions. Most states have adopted a points system whereby each traffic ticket a driver receives adds points to his or her record. Points last a specific period of time and then are erased. The more points you accrue, the higher your auto insurance rates.
In most cases, the number of points you receive depends on how fast you are driving over the speed limit as well as the police officer’s impressions of how you were driving. In Delaware, for example, more points are given to people who drive aggressively while speeding, according to the Unofficial DMV Guide.
Next to parking tickets, speeding is the most common of all traffic tickets, and while it will affect your insurance rate, a single ticket for driving eight miles over the speed limit probably won’t drain your bank account. Serious consequences result when you accrue lots of speeding tickets, however, especially if they are in considerable excess of the posted limits.
Another common traffic ticket is a no-insurance ticket, which you will receive if you are unable to prove financial responsibility upon being pulled over by a police officer (or if you’re in an accident). If you have insurance but don’t have your insurance card with you, there might be no impact on your insurance rate. If, however, you simply don’t have insurance, your insurance rate can skyrocket. In some states, one such traffic ticket can result in revocation of your driver’s license, and you’ll have to purchase expensive SR-22 insurance to get it back.
No Seat Belt
Although one of the least expensive traffic tickets a driver can receive, a citation for no seat belt can increase your insurance rates. In some states, no points will be added to your record, but in others, a ticket for not wearing your safety belt carries the same weight as speeding.
No Driver’s License
There are different ways to get traffic tickets for no driver’s license. It is a penalty in most U.S. states to operate a motor vehicle without your driver’s license, but it is much more severe to drive on a suspended or revoked license. If you are caught doing this, your insurance rates will increase significantly.
In California, for example, driving on a suspended or revoked license results in two points added to your driving record. If you accrue four points in one year, your license will be revoked again.
This alone is enough to make your insurance rates jump significantly, and for a long period of time.
The driver who is considered at-fault in an accident is usually issued traffic tickets for whatever he or she did that caused the accident. This is one of the more severe traffic tickets when it comes to insurance rates because, with an accident under your belt, the insurance company assumes you are not a safe driver.
This is why it sometimes helps to stay with one insurance company. Drivers earn loyalty with the company and may be able to participate in an accident forgiveness program, which can minimize the damage to your wallet.