What Happens When You Get a Speeding Ticket?

What you can do to fight it

Police officer making a traffic stop with a driver pulled over
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Getting a speeding ticket is a headache. You can always just pay it, but sometimes, it makes more sense to go to court to seek a dismissal or a reduced fine. To make matters worse, your insurance company will know you got a speeding ticket and may increase your car insurance rate as a result.

Speeding tickets can remain on your driving record for years. A single, relatively minor speeding infraction can lead to a rate increase of 30% or more, depending on your insurer and where you got the ticket. That’s why it’s important to understand the consequences of getting a speeding ticket before you ever get one.

Key Takeaways

  • A speeding ticket can lead to an auto insurance rate increase.
  • Speeding tickets can stay on your driving record for three to five years.
  • Insurance companies often review a customer’s driving record when renewing a policy.
  • You can take steps to decrease your insurance premium after getting a speeding ticket.

How Speeding Tickets Affect Your Insurance

Insurance companies consider drivers higher risk when they get speeding tickets because they consider them more likely to have a traffic accident. To mitigate the risk, insurers often increase your car insurance premium when they discover speeding infractions. The more speeding tickets you get, the more likely your rate will increase.

Point Systems

Some states use point systems to track their residents’ driving history. If you get a speeding ticket, the system will apply a certain number of points, which remain on your driving record for several years. New drivers start with no points on their record. Minor infractions incur few points, but major violations can earn you a higher number of points as a penalty.

For example, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, motorists in the Volunteer State rack up the following points when caught speeding:

  • 1 point when exceeding the speed limit by up to 5 miles per hour (mph)
  • 4 points when exceeding the speed limit by between 16 and 25 mph
  • 8 points when exceeding the speed limit by 46 mph or more

When you apply for auto insurance, the carrier will check your driving record. Usually, drivers with few or no points on their driving record pay lower rates than those with histories of accidents and speeding tickets.

How Often Do Insurers Check Your Driving Record?

Even if you buy a car insurance policy with a clean driving record, your rates can still increase if you get traffic tickets later. A provider will always check your driving record when you apply for new coverage. They also check driving records when it’s time to renew policies.

Your insurance company may check your driving history as often as every six to 12 months. While getting a ticket for going a few miles over the speed limit might seem like no big deal, your insurer will likely discover it quickly and respond with a rate increase.

Infractions drop off your driving record after three to five years, depending on where you live.

Out-of-State Speeding Tickets

In the past, states didn’t share their traffic violation data with one another, but today, they do. Even if you get a speeding ticket out of state, it may later appear on your in-state driving record. So out-of-state speeding tickets can be just as detrimental to your auto insurance rates as in-state infractions.

How Much Will Your Rate Increase?

The amount your auto insurance might increase after getting a speeding ticket can depend on your insurer and where you live. For example, according to Progressive, its policyholders incur an average six-month premium increase of 15% if they receive one speeding ticket during a three-year period. However, increases vary by carrier.

The North Carolina Department of Insurance estimates that motorists ticketed for speeding in the Tar Heel State incur the following insurance rate increases:

  • 30% when driving under 55 mph, but speeding by 10 mph or less
  • 45% when driving over 55 mph, but less than 76 mph, and speeding more than 10 mph
  • 80% when driving faster than 75 mph in a zone with a speed limit less than 70 mph
  • 260% when speeding to avoid arrest

How To Get Out of a Speeding Ticket

When you get a traffic ticket, you can respond in numerous ways, each of which has advantages and disadvantages.

Pay the Fine

Paying the fine is the quickest and easiest way to deal with a speeding ticket. However, depending on where you got the ticket and how fast you were driving, the fine might be steep. And you’ll likely incur a car insurance rate increase upon renewal when your insurer reviews your motor vehicle record, especially if it was a significant violation.

In some states, including Massachusetts, paying a speeding ticket waives your right to a court hearing. You may also lose your right to a hearing if you don’t pay the ticket or appear in court during a specified period.

Fight the Ticket in Court

Going to court gives you the opportunity to dispute the speeding charge or request a reduction in the fine or points. Often, you won’t need a lawyer to defend a speeding ticket. However, if the infraction threatens loss of your driving privileges, you’ll need a lawyer to represent you in court.

Bear in mind that a prosecutor will present evidence to defend the state’s charge that you violated the speed limit. But if you succeed in defending the charge, the court may dismiss the speeding ticket.

Request Mitigation

Some court systems operate mitigation programs for traffic violations. If you choose mitigation, you must admit you were speeding. However, mitigation also gives you the opportunity to explain the circumstances of the violation. For instance, maybe you were driving too fast to your child’s school after receiving a call that they had been injured on the playground.

Choosing mitigation is final. After the hearing, you can’t file an appeal.

In some cases, a judge may reduce your fine, give you more time to pay it, or give you the option to complete a defensive driving course to reduce the fine. If the court rejects your excuse, you’ll have to pay the full fine and may receive points on your driver’s license.

Drivers in many states can go to traffic school to "mask" a violation so insurers don't see it and your insurance won't go up. But state laws usually allow traffic school only for certain violations and they limit how many times you can "mask" one.

How To Reduce Your Premium After a Speeding Ticket

You don’t have to settle for an insurance rate hike following a speeding ticket. Check with your insurance company to find out if you qualify for discounts you’re not receiving. If you insure your car and home with the same provider, you may earn savings by bundling policies. You may also qualify for a penalty reduction or discount if you take a defensive driving course.

Also consider shopping around for a new insurer. Get quotes from several insurance companies and compare coverages, discounts, optional coverages, and rates. You may find comparable or even better coverage with a lower premium.

How To Avoid Speeding Tickets

The best way to avoid getting speeding tickets is to slow down. Always remain aware of speed limits and how fast you’re driving.

Enrolling in a usage-based car insurance program can enable you to evaluate and better control your driving habits. Usage-based programs harness telematics technology, using a mobile application or a plug-in device to monitor the times of day you drive, speed, and braking. Popular usage-based auto insurance programs include Allstate’s Drivewise, Progressive’s Snapshot, and State Farm’s Drive Safe & Save.

Consumer advocates have raised privacy and other concerns related to usage-based car insurance programs.

Telematics technology transmits your driving data to the insurer. These programs offer premium savings for drivers who follow the rules of the road—but may result in rate increases for motorists who drive too fast.

Also consider installing a speed governor on your automobile. These electronic devices restrict your speed to a set limit, like 73 miles per hour. Speed governors are vehicle specific, preprogrammed and connect to your vehicle’s throttle control system.

Article Sources

  1. Erie Insurance. "Will a Speeding Ticket Affect My Car Insurance?"

  2. Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. “Schedule of Points Values.”

  3. Progressive. “Do Speeding or Parking Tickets Affect Insurance Rates?

  4. North Carolina Department of Insurance. “Safe Driver Incentive Plan.”

  5. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. “Appeal Your Traffic Ticket.”

  6. California Courts. "Traffic School."

  7. Valley Chevy Dealers. “Car Speed Governor.”