Driving Record Points and Your Car Insurance

When you're ticketed for a traffic violation, your state may issue points on your license. Auto insurance companies consider accumulated infractions when determining premiums, and numerous tickets can negatively impact rates.

Understanding the Point System

Many states use a point system to penalize drivers for moving violations. Penalties are given for infractions such as:

  • Speeding.
  • Running red lights or stop signs.
  • Reckless driving.
  • DUI or DWI.
  • Driving without insurance.
  • Not paying tickets.

Each violation remains on your record for a given number of years depending on its severity. Three to five years is the most common term, but serious breaches of traffic law could stick around for as long as a decade.

Most states have a maximum point number you can have on your license at any given time. For example, in New York, you can have your license suspended if you accumulate 11 points in any 18-month period.

How Points Affect Car Insurance Rates

Insurers differ in the way they evaluate driving records, so one company may be more willing to offer coverage than another. However, your rates are likely to be higher regardless of the company from which you obtain a policy if you have points on your driving record.

High-risk drivers cost more to insure, and moving violations flag you as a risky client. To compensate for the potential cost of claims for drivers with records indicating dangerous habits, insurance companies charge more based on the number and severity of penalties.

For example, rate changes related to speeding are usually determined by how much you exceed the limit. Companies assign more points (in their own rating systems) for every increment of 10 miles per hour and may charge more if you were speeding excessively.

Decreasing Penalties for Traffic Violations

Receiving a ticket doesn't doom you to a lifetime of exorbitant auto insurance premiums. There are several steps you can take to clean up your driving record and reduce your level of risk.

One popular option is to attend a state-approved defensive driving course at a local college. These classes are also offered online. Submitting a certificate to your insurer showing completion of one of such courses can lower premiums by proving you're serious about becoming a better driver. Once you've taken the course, put what you learn into practice to increase your chances of earning a "safe driver" discount.

Many motorists choose to fight the tickets they're issued in the hopes of either getting the violations reduced or having them dropped altogether. Another way to get rid of blemishes on your record is to ask about expunging violations after going for a stretch of time without receiving a ticket.

Be sure to check your record from time to time so that you always know what's on it and when each point is scheduled to be removed. If you believe a penalty has been issued in error, contact the DMV to see what can be done to correct the problem.

Committing to continuing driver education and developing safer habits while on the road can reduce the high car insurance rates associated with accumulated points on your license. By dedicating yourself to being a better driver, you not only save money but also could potentially save lives.