A bad driving record comes with consequences, none of them good. One of the most well-known negatives is that, when a ding to your record your car insurance rates can go up. Fortunately, you may be able to do something about it.
The Point System
Some states take action depending upon how serious the offense is, but most state DMVs keep track of driving infractions with a point system. The details of these systems vary by state.
California is an example of a state that uses a point system to deal with driving violations. Different kinds and number of violations result in differing point numbers. The driver’s age can also affect a person’s points. Points are used to determine how serious the penalty is, all the way up to losing driving privileges all together.
You can find out about your state’s system on FindLaw.com.
How Your Insurance Rates Are Affected
Driving violations don’t always result in higher insurance rates. Parking tickets usually don’t affect car insurance premiums, and sometimes an insurance provider will forgive first-time citations. Once again, it can depend on where you live, as well as who your insurance company is. One thing that’s certain, though, violations that result from reckless driving will have more painful consequences.
According to NerdWallet, a single minor speeding ticket can result in no increase to your premiums or, on the other hand, raise it by as much as 30%. It depends on what insurance company you do business with. A DUI can add thousands of dollars to your costs.
How Long Do Driving Dings Affect Rates?
Moving violations can remain on your driving record for three to five years. DUI convictions stay on your record longer. In California, alcohol-related convictions remain on your record for 10 years. In Florida, though, that offense will stay on your record for 75 years.
How to Get Rid of Your Driving Record Points
There are often some options for removing violations from your driving record. As usual, it varies state to state. But typically, here are your choices:
1. Complete a driver improvement course.
Taking a state-approved course is one way to reduce or eliminate penalties on your record. If you want to go this route, be sure your state allows it and only take a course from a state-authorized school. More and more states let you complete a course online, while others may require you to attend a class.
2. Fight the ticket.
While most drivers don’t contest a ticket, it can pay off to do so. You can argue that you were wrongfully cited or convince the court that there were mitigating circumstances. You just might be able to have your penalties reduced or even dismissed entirely.
3. Stay on top of all penalties.
If you do get penalized for something minor, like a fix-it ticket take care of it and pay it off right away. It may keep it off your record.
4. Keep your record clean.
Maintaining a clean driving record for a specified amount of time following a ticket can get points removed, depending on the state.
5. Check with your DMV.
Don’t assume points will automatically disappear from your driving record after several years. Check with your DMV to see if you have to request that the points be removed after a span of time specified by your state. Don’t bother with DUIs or other serious reckless driving dings, because they can stay on your record forever.
It’s Not Just About Auto Insurance
The damage that driving infractions do to your insurance rates can hurt, especially if there’s a serious offense such as a DUI. Nationwide, the median increase in premiums due to DUI is 86.5% (valuepenguin.com), but it can go much higher. The same report states that North Carolina is the most expensive state for increases, an average of 308.9%. Tickets have worse consequences if you don’t pay your fines.
The Bottom Line
Your best defense, of course, is to be a safe and conscientious driver. But if you get a ticket, you can still take steps to get it off your record. If you feel you’ve been wrongfully labeled a reckless driver you might be able to have the penalties dismissed or reduced. And be sure to pay off your fines in a timely manner.
Find out what the rules are in your state and, when there is reason for you to be concerned about your record, check with the DMV to review it. Are you labeled a high risk driver? You might want to learn about high risk insurance.