You might feel the impact on your driving record and insurance costs if, say, you’ve caused a car accident or have speeding tickets. Most states have clear rules about how these events affect your driver’s license. Getting too many points can cause your driver’s license to be suspended or revoked.
Your driver's license record differs from your car insurance record. Your state can view your driver's license points differently from the way your car insurance carrier does.
Be aware of how traffic infractions will impact your insurance rates. Your state's department of motor vehicles will indicate how long the points stay on your record in your state. You might have to contact your insurer to find out how they handle points. Learn more about how long a ticket stays on your car insurance.
How Long Does a Violation Stay on Your Record?
Most people know that a traffic ticket can result in higher car insurance rates, but how long the rate increase will last depends on three factors: the insurance carrier, the type of violation, and your state.
The Insurance Carrier
Insurance companies assign insurance eligibility points for certain traffic infractions and accidents. These points differ from what’s on your official driving record and help insurers determine your eligibility for auto insurance.
You could be denied auto insurance if you have multiple points from traffic infractions within the last three years.
Many carriers offer a good-driver discount after no accidents or violations for five years. The length of time varies by state and insurer, so you may want to call and ask how long you'll be required to pay higher premiums. Some insurers even offer accident forgiveness if you’re generally a safe driver.
The Type of Traffic Violation
The type of traffic violation you receive can affect the amount of time your carrier surcharges your policy.
According to Progressive, customers who received their first speeding ticket in three years paid 15% more on average for a six-month policy. Careless driving and driving under the influence are some of the offenses that generally have the highest consequences.
You might have to wait up to several years for points to clear your record with preferred insurance carriers. Major violations, such as a DUI, may stay on your record for as many as 10 years.
Most insurance carriers can see your entire driving history, but they’ll typically only levy a surcharge for points related to violations occurring within the last five years.
Check your insurance policy's declarations page for more information about the prior accidents and violations your insurer uses to determine your premium.
The State Where You Live
States group traffic violations based on the DMV demerit points assigned to each violation.
Points won’t be added to your driving record until you’re convicted of the traffic violation. Point systems range from 2 to 15 points depending on your residence state. In New York, for example, an improper turn attracts 2 demerit points.
Depending on the state where you live, most points will usually fall off your record in two to three years from the date you commit the offense. More severe violations could remain on your driving record for a longer period, even permanently, or result in the suspension of your driving license. In Virginia, a DUI offense stays on your record for 11 years while an alcohol-related conviction in Washington remains on your record for life.
Here are examples of how long traffic violations stay on your record in different states:
|State Name||Years Violations Stay on Your Record|
Convictions for traffic violations in another state, such as an out-of-state traffic ticket, are usually not added to your home state driving record. However, insurers will generally find that violation when they review your motor vehicle record when you are getting a quote for a new or renewal policy.
Insurance Impacts From Traffic Violations
Each state has different consequences for drivers who commit traffic violations. You can get tickets, which can cost you money. You'll also get points on your driving record for major violations in almost every state. Your insurance company will consider you a high-risk driver if you gain too many points, and that increases the cost of insurance.
Your insurer can’t take away your license when it learns of a traffic violation, as the state might. In serious cases, your insurer might not renew your policy.
Insurance companies assign points to their customers just as the DMV does, but these points are different from those assigned by the DMV. They help determine the rates they assign to drivers. The more serious your infraction, the more points you get, and the more you'll pay for insurance. Depending on the type of violation, you might not see an increase right away or you may have no increase in your rates.
Traffic violations are generally categorized as either moving or non-moving violations.
A moving violation, as its name implies, is a traffic infraction committed by a driver when the vehicle is moving, and they carry tougher consequences than non-moving violations. They are classified as either civil violations or criminal traffic violations.
Civil violations include running a red light or an unlawful lane change. Criminal violations include driving under the influence, reckless driving, or driving without insurance.
Moving violations have different demerit points based on the severity. Simple civil violations, like failure to signal, will result in lighter penalties. Criminal violations carry steeper consequences, perhaps even a suspension of your driver’s license.
You may not see an increase in insurance premiums for more minor moving violations, particularly if it’s your first violation. Severe violations, like a DUI, may result in higher insurance rates since you’re a riskier driver to insure. Some insurers may deny you coverage altogether.
Non-moving violations include parking violations, equipment violations, and paperwork violations relating to registration, licensing, insurance, and inspection. Non-moving violations will typically not affect your insurance rate since most states don’t report them on your driving record. However, states can revoke your license or deny renewing your vehicle registration for not paying your parking ticket.
In many states, depending on the incident involved, you can take a driver’s safety course to earn safety points to help you keep your license if you’ve accrued too many demerit points.
Average Insurance Premium Increases
Take a look at the average insurance premium increase for your state after one accident:
Insurance Premium Increase by State (Smallest to Largest)
|Rank||State||Average Rate Increase|
|9 (tie)||North Dakota||$277|
|51||District of Columbia||$1,041|
|Average total increase||$446|
How To Save on Insurance After a Ticket
Demerit points from traffic violations will likely increase your insurance premium upon renewal. However, you can take steps to get points off your driving record and save on insurance.
Take a Defensive Driving Course
Start with a defensive driving course or motor vehicle accident prevention course. You’ll gain the knowledge and techniques for lawful and safer driving. In New York, a defensive driving course can reduce the base rate of your auto insurance premium by 10% each year for three years.
In many states, you can go to traffic school after a minor moving violation and "mask" your ticket. If you complete the traffic course, the insurer will not see the violation on your motor vehicle record and won't raise your rates. Usually, there is a limit to how often you can go to traffic school in order to mask a violation.
You can potentially get discounts on your insurance if your driving record has no violations. Your insurer may provide an insurance discount if you have completed a defensive or safety driving course. You might also qualify for some discounts to lower your out-of-pocket costs, for example if you belong to a group like AARP.
Violation and Accident Forgiveness Programs
More and more insurers are offering violation and accident forgiveness. You often pay extra for this coverage, but it protects you against a rate increase in case of a minor traffic violation. Look into getting forgiveness once your record is clear of violations.
The Bottom Line
Traffic violations don't just affect your driving record, they also have an impact on how much your insurance costs. Your rates will increase based on the type of violation you commit and your insurer, but you may not be stuck with higher premiums. Check with your insurer to see whether there are ways to reduce your costs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much do speeding tickets affect insurance?
Speeding tickets raise your insurance premium, but the rate increase differs among insurers. According to Progressive, customers paid 15% more on average for a six-month policy for the first speeding ticket received in a three-year window of time.
What kinds of tickets affect insurance rates?
Moving violations, like speeding tickets, could raise your insurance rate. Non-moving violations, like parking tickets, may or may not raise your insurance rate, though this depends on your state and insurance company.
How do parking tickets affect insurance?
Parking tickets typically don’t affect your insurance rate, since non-moving violations are not reported on your driving record. A parking ticket will only raise your insurance rate when it goes unpaid. Your state may also refuse to renew your vehicle registration, which means you wouldn't be able to secure insurance.
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. “Traffic Violations and Demerit Points.”
Department of Insurance and Financial Services. “Michigan's Auto Insurance Law Has Changed.”
Progressive. “Do Speeding & Parking Tickets Affect Insurance?”
New York Department of Motor Vehicles. “About the New New York State Driver System.”
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. “Six Point Violations.”
Washington State Department of Licensing. “WA State Licensing (DOL) Official Site: Frequently Asked Questions - Driving Records.”
Michigan, Office of Secretary of State. “SOS - How Long Do Points Remain on My Driving Record?”
Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. “Types of BMV Records.”
Montana Department of Justice. “Driving Records.”
State of California Department of Motor Vehicles. “Retention of Driver Record Information.”
Arizona Judicial Branch. “Self-Service Center.”
Superior Court of California, County of Sutter. "Traffic School."