This Is What That Ticket You Got Will Do to Your Car Insurance Rate

By Paul Michael on 4 August 2014 0 comments

There are two types of drivers in America: those who've received a ticket; and those who haven't.

In the past five years, 25% of drivers have received traffic tickets. That's one in four. Of course, tickets can range from the minor (such as driving with a broken headlight), to the very serious (a DUI). Tickets carry penalties, including fines and point violations, and if you hit 12 points your license is taken away. Typically, you'll automatically get 12 points for a DUI. However, the biggest hit your wallet takes will not come from fines and fees, but from the insurance rate hikes that accompany tickets. Here are five of the biggest insurance rate increases you'll get from traffic tickets.

DUI or DWI — 93% Rate Increase

That's almost double, if you're lucky; many insurance carriers will actually drop you altogether, and some will triple your rate.

The insurance industry does not like people driving under the influence. They consider you to be a very high-risk driver, and rightly so. Drunk drivers are a danger not only to themselves and their own property, but also to everyone else on the road. If you can afford to pay the increased rate, it will be that way for three years. That equates to thousands of dollars. If your policy is cancelled, you need to get SR-22 insurance from another carrier before you can legally drive your car. And guess what? You now have a cancellation on your record, so it will be even more expensive. Of course, depending on your blood alcohol level, you may not even be able to get behind the wheel for another nine months.

The bottom line is, never ever drive under the influence of alcohol. With the insurance hikes, penalties, classes, interlock devices, and everything else, it will cost you $10,000 and stay on your record for a long, long time. How much does it cost to get a cab, or spend the night in a nearby hotel? It's not $10k!

Texting — 21% Increase

Texting rate hikes have not come in line with DUI rate hikes yet, but they will. Research has shown that texting and driving is the same as driving after four beers — something that would easily get you a DUI conviction. Worse still, you are SIX TIMES more likely to cause an accident if you're texting, as opposed to driving while intoxicated. Not only that, but 25% of all car accidents are now caused by drivers who text.

It's an outrage that the insurance companies, and the laws, are not seeing texting for what it really is; one of the greatest dangers to road safety today. As it stands right now, if you get a ticket for texting and driving you can get as little as one point and a $20 fine, plus a 21% increase in your insurance rate (it's treated the same as a 15 mph speeding violation). It's very possible that if you have a good record, your insurance company will forgive you.

But like I said above, expect the penalties for texting and driving to start increasing.

Reckless Driving — 82% Increase

If you're driving without using your hands, reading a book or map, erratically changing lanes while speeding, tailgating, road raging, or basically your attention is anywhere but the road ahead, you can get a ticket for reckless driving. Also, some DUI cases will plea down to reckless, or "wet reckless" (meaning alcohol was involved), and this results in slightly lesser charges and penalties. But don't go celebrating. Reckless driving is not something your insurance company likes to see on your record, and they will heavily penalize you for it.

Careless Driving — 27% Increase

On the other hand, careless driving brings much smaller penalties.

While reckless driving is seen as intentional, careless driving is not done on purpose. You may forget to signal while changing lanes, or may fall asleep at the wheel (which brings disastrous consequences, but was never something the driver wanted to do). If you are ticketed for careless driving, you'll get a few points on your license and your insurance rate could rise by as much as 25%. Of course, your previous record will come into play, and your insurance company may let you off easy. There's a world of difference between forgetting to signal, and falling asleep behind the wheel.

Failure to Stop/Running a Red — 19% Increase

Whether you run through a stop sign or a red light, you can get a ticket.

These days, cameras at intersections are grabbing offenders and sending tickets out automatically. You can always try to fight it, especially if you went through a yellow and the camera or police officer has you down as running a red. But, chances are you'll probably be too busy to go through with a court case, and will simply pay the fine and take the reduced points. Expect your insurance to go up about 19%, unless you have an exceptional history.

Speeding — Up to 30% Increase

The big one. Almost everyone, at some point in his or her driving life, is going to go over the speed limit. Even if it's just a few miles per hour over, it's breaking the law. Of course, most police officers don't usually bother unless you're going 10 mph or more over the limit (unless it's a very slow day). Depending on how much over the limit you were going, your insurance hike can range from 21% up to 30%. If you were doing something crazy, like 160 mph in a 55 mph zone, you may get a reckless driving ticket instead.

Driving Alone in a Carpool Lane — 18% Increase

It seems so trivial to get a ticket for driving in a HOV or carpool lane without passengers. However, those lanes are put there to ease traffic congestion, and if we all disobey the rules of the road they will become futile. While nothing major is going to happen, you can expect almost the same rate hike as a low-end speeding ticket. It's really not worth the hassle. Or the cost.

Have you ever gotten a moving violation? What was the hit to your pocketbook?

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