Get A Traffic Ticket? Here’s How Much More You’ll Pay For Car Insurance

Being issued a moving violation while driving is the unwelcome gift that keeps on giving. Not only will you be subject to what could be a hefty fine, and perhaps court costs and legal fees if it’s an especially serious charge, you’ll be paying higher annual car insurance premiums down the road.

That’s because one of the most important actuarial factors that determines auto insurance rates is a motorist’s driving record. Providers generally charge those who have been issued moving violations higher rates to cover the added risk that they might get into an at-fault crash.

How much more you’ll pay for breaking traffic laws depends both on the violation and the state in which it’s issued. While minor offenses, like driving at night without having the headlights on might boost a driver’s annual rates by maybe four percent, the most serious citations can hike one’s car insurance premiums by an average 73 percent. That’s according to a recent study conducted by the insurance website TheZebra.com.

Leaving the scene of an accident, also known as a hit-and-run, will typically boost a driver’s insurance rates the most, at an average $1,083 per year. Other budget-busting violations include street racing, driving under the influence, reckless driving, and refusing a breathalyzer test. We’re featuring the list of the most serious violations and how much they’ll cost an average policyholder below.

Take note that these increases assume a hypothetical low-risk driver who otherwise boasts a clean record. Drivers already having multiple violations and/or accidents on their records might see their rates skyrocket beyond affordability or have their policies cancelled altogether. 

What’s more, since auto insurance rates vary from one state to another based on a variety of factors, including crash/claim/crime rates, the number of uninsured drivers, the required minimum coverage amounts, insurance industry regulations, and so on, how much a given traffic ticket will raise one’s premium depends largely on where a policyholder lives.

For example, being caught driving without having fastened a seatbelt in North Carolina will raise one’s rates by an average 41.2 percent, while being issued the same violation in Indiana will have no effect on a driver’s premiums at all. Those cited for leaving the scene of an accident in California will see their bills jump by 171.2 percent, while the increase would be a more modest 39.2 percent in Florida. If you’re caught racing in North Carolina you’d likely feel the sting of a whopping 376.5 percent rate hike, but it would be only a 56.5 percent jump in Ohio.

If you’ve been ticketed and wind up being charged higher insurance costs, the best way to bring them down moving forward is, of course, to drive safely and adhere to all traffic laws. Beyond that, there are a few things drivers can do to help lower their premiums, whether they’ve been issued one or more tickets or otherwise have a pristine history behind the wheel. 

The first step in the process is to shop around among multiple carriers for coverage. Some are more willing to accept higher risk drivers than others, and as such may charge them less for coverage. Always check for lower rates if there’s been a change in your personal profile. This includes changing vehicles, adding a second or third car to your policy, adding or removing a driver from your coverage, getting married or divorced, or moving to a new address.

Even if you’re staying with your current insurer, make sure you’re getting all of the carrier’s discounts to which you’re entitled. You’ll usually catch a break for insuring your car and home with the same carrier, having an anti-theft device installed, driving fewer miles per year, and so on. Consider raising your deductibles for collision and comprehensive coverage or lower your liability thresholds to the minimum requirements.

You’ll typically save money by paying a year’s premiums all at once, rather than on a quarterly or monthly basis, and you might save some cash by getting your bill online and/or setting up automatic payments.

If you’re an at-risk driver, you might garner lower premiums by taking a defensive driving course. Some insurers will also offer potential rate reductions for motorists who have a device installed on their vehicles via the “OBD II” diagnostic interface that monitors their driving habits and miles travelled. 

Here’s a list of the 20 costliest moving violations and how much they’ll jack up an average driver’s insurance rates, according to TheZebra.com:

  1. Leaving the scene of an accident (+73.0%)
  2. Racing (+67.2%)
  3. DUI (+65.5%)
  4. Refusal to submit to a chemical test (+63.6%)
  5. Driving with a suspended license (+61.3%)
  6. Reckless driving (+61.1%)
  7. Open container (+36.3%)
  8. Operating a vehicle without permission (+28.6%)
  9. Passing school bus (+28.4%)
  10. Improper passing (+24.5%)
  11. Following too closely (+23.9%)
  12. Speeding (+23.8%)
  13. Wrong way-wrong lane (+22.9%)
  14. Illegal turn (+22.8%)
  15. Failure to yield (+22.7%)
  16. Failure to stop at a red light (+22.6%)
  17. Driving too slowly (+21.6%)
  18. Texting while driving (+21.6%)
  19. Cell phone violation (+21.4%)
  20. Driving with expired registration (+10.5%)

You can read the full report here.

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