The first thing I did when I got home after receiving a speeding ticket was call my car insurance company to find out how much my car insurance premiums would go up. Interestingly, they couldn't give me a straight answer.
If I get convicted and don't go to traffic school, I will receive one point on my driving record for the 10 mph over the speed limit violation.
When I asked my USAA car insurance agent for specifics, she kept on ducking the answer. For all of you who have received a traffic ticket or will get one, this post should help give you a good idea of what's at stake when it comes to car insurance premiums going up.
Traffic Tickets Don't Hit Your Record Immediately
Let's say you got a traffic ticket this morning. Your car insurance company isn't notified today. The insurance company might not even be notified for six months. This means your car insurance will stay the same for quite a while after the violation.
Your auto insurance company is notified after the ticket is processed and resolved. If you fight your ticket, you'll have to set up a court date.
There might be some delays or extensions in the court date for whatever reason. Even after the verdict is done, it takes time for the court to process the violation. Thank goodness for government inefficiency in this case!
Besides the time it takes for your car insurance company to get notified for your violation, insurance companies generally renew every 6 months.
Let's say your renewal date is June 30th and you get a ticket on July 1st. Even if your July 1st ticket is resolved in one month on August 1st, your new auto insurance premium rate won't kick in until January 1st next year.
So theoretically, if you are trying to save money you can attempt to keep delaying your hearing date to the maximum extent of the law.
How To Keep Your Car Insurance Low If You Get A Ticket
It takes about three weeks after getting pulled over to get a traffic ticket by mail in California where I live. If you're also a resident and haven’t attended traffic school in CA in the past 18 months, and your ticket says you are eligible to attend traffic school, you can go – either online or in person.
Online is generally much faster (4 hours) vs. in person (8 hours) because you can read faster than the instructor can speak. In addition, you don't have to commute to a destination or risk getting sick. Or worse, get another traffic ticket while driving to traffic school!
If you don’t get a notice within three weeks of the ticket, the law says that it’s your responsibility to call the traffic court that issued the citation and ask for one.
You’ll still have to go to the court and pay a fee and maybe a fine before attending traffic school. Plus you've got to also make sure you go to a DMV-approved traffic school. Going online is definitely the more efficient way to go.
Traffic School Solution For 1 Point Tickets
Traffic school is generally an option for people with a minor violation, i.e. less than 2 points. An example of a two point violation is going 20 mph over the speed limit, or getting a DUI.
Let's say you already went to traffic school within the past 18 months and get another minor violation ticket. You can still go to court and put in a special request to go to traffic school.
The whole point is to keep your car insurance rates as low as possible and prevent a suspension of your drivers license. Each state has a different traffic school system, so check accordingly.
But before you go to traffic school, you need to also ask yourself how much is your time worth. Perhaps the 4-8 hours for traffic school could be better used to produce something of greater value than the cost of the increased car insurance premium from your ticket.
Or, you might strongly prefer to spend 4-8 hours with your children or ailing grandparent. Put a value on your time before going to traffic school.
Points Don't Last Forever On Your Driving Record
Each state has a different point and driving record system. In California, points stay on your record for three years and then drop off. If you get a DUI in California, the violation lasts for 10 years.
What you need to calculate is the probability you will get another point within the record period. At some point, your license will be suspended if you get too many points in a certain time period.
In California, if you accumulate 4 points in a period of 12 months, your license will be suspended for 6 months. In addition, you will also be on probation for 1 year. Both your suspension and probation will come into effect 34 days after you receive your Order of Probation/Suspension in the mail.
How Fast Do Points Fall Off Your Driving Record By State
Below is a list of all 50 states with the amount of time it takes for the points to fall off. The source is dmv.org, the happiest place in America, terms subject to change.
Alabama: Two years.
Alaska: Two points are reduced for every year of violation-free driving.
Arizona: Three years.
Arkansas: Three years.
California: Three years.
Colorado: Two years.
Connecticut: Two years.
Delaware: Two years.
Florida: Three years.
Georgia: Two years.
Hawaii: No point system.
Idaho: Three years.
Illinois: No point system.
Indiana: Two years.
Iowa: No point system.
Kansas: No point system.
Kentucky: Two years.
Louisiana: No point system.
Maine: One year.
Maryland: Three years.
Massachusetts: Six years.
Michigan: Two Years.
Minnesota: No point system.
Mississippi: No point system.
Missouri: Eighteen months.
Montana: Three years.
Nebraska: Two years.
Nevada: One year.
New Hampshire: Three years.
New Jersey: Three points deducted for every year of driving violation free.
New Mexico: One year.
New York: 18 months.
North Carolina: Three years.
North Dakota: Three years; however, one point is deducted for every three-months of violation-free driving.
Ohio: Three years.
Oklahoma: Points reduced to zero if you drive three-consecutive years without a violation.
Oregon: No point system. Pennsylvania: Three points removed for every 12 months of violation-free driving.
Pennsylvania: For each 12 months you drive without getting a violation that results in points, a suspension, or a revocation, the state will trim 3 points from your record.
Rhode Island: No point system.
South Carolina: Two years.
South Dakota: Complicated system, but points do begin falling off after 12 months.
Tennessee: Two years. Texas: Three years.
Utah: Two years, provided you maintain a spotless driving record.
Vermont: Two years.
Virginia: Two years
Washington: No point system. Washington D.C.: Two years.
West Virginia: Two years.
Wisconsin: Five years.
Wyoming: No point system.
Calculate Your Estimated Car Insurance Premium Increase
My speeding ticket for going 35 mph in a 25 mph zone was for $234. When I asked my USAA car insurance agent what would happen to my $285 every six month premium, she said, “It's hard to tell. But most certainly the biggest hit to your wallet will be the ticket, and not the premium increase, if any.”
I currently have a good driver's discount of $85 per six months and another good operator discount of $35 per six months. The agent said that since I haven't had any tickets in five years, my good driver's discount would remain.
She then said I'm allowed one, 1-point ticket every three years to retain my $35 good operator discount. So in other words, I will continue to receive a $120 discount every six months.
Example: USAA car insurance premium increase for a traffic ticket
I proceeded to ask my USAA car insurance agent what about the premium price increase itself due to the traffic ticket. She said that it's hard for her to say.
Next, she said I won't know for another six months at least because my premium renewal is coming due soon, and I haven't even gotten the ticket notification in the mail.
She said my premium *might* adjust upward a little bit for the ticket, but perhaps not at all based on my record. When I pressed her on a percentage increase from the cases she's seen, she wouldn't corroborate. But, she seemed to nod that a 5%-10% increase in premium was in the ball park.
In other words, my 6-month premium might go up from $285 to $300 – $314 every six months. That's $58 a year.
$58 X 3 years (the length a point stays on a CA driving record) = $174. But points lose their strength after each year. So perhaps the real cost over three years is $150 instead of $174.
Now I compare $174 to the cost of my time for attending driving school (4-8 hours) and the time and penalties for going to court and losing (3-5 hours + penalty for losing) to see whether everything is worth it or not.
Car Insurance & Traffic Tickets: Put Things In Perspective
Everybody seems to focus on the cost of insurance going up as the big repercussion of getting a ticket. The real costs are an accident, injury or death.
And then finally an increase in car insurance premiums if you aren't a repeat offender within a specified window. If you do have a history of getting tickets, then the implications will be much costlier.
Because city and county governments all around our country mismanage programs, they are starving for as much revenue as possible. When you spend $6 billion dollars MORE than proposed to re-build the Bay Bridge, it's easy to see why cops are on overdrive writing tickets.
Finally, it's always good to shop around for car insurance right after you get a ticket. Why? Because this is when your existing car insurance company might hit you up with higher premiums.
New auto insurance companies looking to win your business have a higher incentive of forgiving your ticket if you go with them.
How To Get Cheaper Car Insurance
Check out AllState, one of the most popular online auto insurance companies to find the lowest prices. AllState has been around forever and provide the best rates.
I recommend you at least get a competing car insurance quote so that if your existing auto insurance company really tries to jack you, you've got a competitive bid to make sure they don't.
Photo credit: One day this picture I took will win an award. Look at the emotion of the fella sitting on the ground after wrecking his $500,000 Porsche Carrera GT. He was going 70 mph in a 25 mph zone and lost control. FS.