There’s no worse feeling than seeing those blue and white lights in your rear-view mirror. That feeling is dread because you know that whatever traffic ticket you’re in for, it’s going to cost you. It will not only cost you in a one-time, expensive fee, but it could also put a dent in your budget in the long run if it drives up your car insurance rate. Here are some of the worst traffic violations that will kill your car insurance.
1. Impaired Driving
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is the worst thing you can do, in terms of driving up your insurance rates. Of course, every state has its own rules for traffic violations, and each car insurance company will also have its own policy for how these violations impact insurance rates. In every state, however, a DUI conviction will have severe consequences when it comes to your rates. According to Insurancequotes.com, a DUI ticket in California can increase your insurance premium by 183 percent. In New York, it could increase rates by 95 percent. In some states, you could even have your driver’s license suspended if you are convicted of driving under the influence.
Be safe and keep your insurance from skyrocketing by never driving under the influence. Think about it: the cost of a cab ride home is a just a tiny fraction of what a DUI conviction would cost you.
2. Reckless Driving
The actual definition of reckless driving varies from state to state, but in general, it refers to a mental state in which the river displays a wanton disregard for the rules of the road. In addition to major fines, such a conviction could also result in imprisonment or a license suspension or revocation in some states. If that’s not bad enough, a ticket for reckless driving will also make your insurance premium more than double in some states. In California, it could go up by 181 percent.
Some people confuse reckless driving with careless driving. Both will cost you, but a careless driving ticket will cost you less. Careless driving is typically defined as driving a car without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other people on the road. This could include, for example, failing to signal when switching lanes. The average premium increase for this type of violation is around 27 percent.
3. Running a Stop Sign or Light
In many states you can get a ticket for intentionally going through an intersection after the traffic signal turns red or for rolling through a stop sign without stopping. This is a more common cause for a ticket that can make your premium go up by an average of 19 percent. It only takes a few extra seconds to come to a complete stop, but it could keep you from spending a lot of extra dollars on car insurance.
Another common traffic violation is speeding. This type of violation can have varying degrees of seriousness. A ticket for going 1 to 15 miles per hour above the speed limit will have less of an impact on your premium than a ticket for 16 to 30 miles per hour above the limit. A ticket for either of these amounts could cost you from 20 to 28 percent in increased costs. Getting a ticket for going more than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit is an even more serious offense, and will likely make your premium go up at least 30 percent.
Other Minor Offenses
- Driving in the Carpool Lane: This seems like a minor offense, but it can cost you as much as a 30 percent in increased insurance rates.
- No Seatbelt: Do you have a habit of driving without your seatbelt? Well, buckle up and break that habit. If you get a ticket for driving without wearing a seatbelt, your insurance premium can go up by 5 to 10 percent.
How Your Rates Are Impacted
Each insurance company has its own policy of determining how much to charge when it comes to traffic violations. For example, one company could decide to raise your rates over three years, while another could apply a surcharge. They could decide to lower your rate or remove the surcharge after a certain amount of time without incident. If you are a long-time customer with a clean driving record, one minor ticket may not significantly impact your rates.
How to Avoid Higher Rates
- Not Guilty: The simple way to avoid higher rates is to avoid getting a traffic ticket. However, that’s easier said than done. If you receive a ticket, the best thing to do is to not admit guilt. This will help you if you want to contest the ticket at some point in the future. In addition, if you decide to contest the ticket, don’t pay the fine. Doing so will admit guilt.
- Talk to Your Company: Give your insurance company a call if you’re concerned that your rates will go up. Talk to them about how a ticket will affect your rates and ask if there is anything you can do to avoid any increase in costs. If you have never had a ticket before, some companies may waive your first one.
- Take Classes: There are ways to get a ticket erased from your record to avoid any impacts on your insurance rates. One way is to enroll in traffic school. Another way is to take a defensive driving course.
- Shop Around: It’s never a bad idea to get quotes from other insurance companies if your rates go up. Some companies penalize less for traffic violations and you may be able to find one with a more lenient policy. If you do find lower rates, you might even be able to use that as leverage to stay at your current company and keep your rates down.
Of course, the best way to keep insurance costs low is to keep a clean driving record. Do your best to be a responsible, alert and cautious driver. You could even try to use public transportation and carpool more in order to drive less. Doing so will reduce your chances of getting a traffic violation and it might even help you qualify for a low-mileage discount.