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A speeding ticket can affect you in more ways than you might think, including a significant and long-lasting increase in car insurance premiums. Find out how to keep the ticket off your record.

Once you've been caught speeding and those blue lights flash, you'll almost certainly have to pay -- a fine, a lawyer, the cost of a defensive driving class or an "administrative fee." Or maybe even all of those, combined.

The real question is whether that ticket will increase car insurance rates.

Depending on how fast you were going, the pain can be severe. According to data gathered for Insurance.com by Quadrant Information Services, a single speeding ticket for going 11 to 15 mph over the limit raises rates, on average, about 20% ($288). Ouch.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • A speeding ticket on your driving record causes your insurance premium to go up by 22%-30%, on average.
  • There are a few ways to prevent a speeding violation from being added to your driving record, such as contesting the ticket, having it deferred or completing driving school.
  • Even if your rates don’t go up, a speeding ticket can cost you in other ways, such as fees for driving school or a traffic lawyer.
  • If your insurance premium goes up after a speeding ticket, it’s a good idea to look for other ways to lower your rate.

How do speeding tickets affect your driving record?

In many states, the DMV keeps track of drivers' records through a points system. Whenever you incur an at-fault moving violation, the DMV gets notified and adds points to your record. The number of points will depend on your state's particular scale and how serious the infraction is.

For example, in Utah, speeding 10 miles per hour or less over the speed limit will result in 35 points on your record, whereas speeding 11 to 20 mph over the limit will result in 55 points, and more than 20 mph will result in 75 points. In Arkansas, on the other hand, speeding at those same intervals will result in points of four, five or eight, respectively.

These points can cause your car insurance rates to increase. And if you end up accumulating too many points, your driver's license could be suspended. Usually, you'll get a warning if you get close to that point.

There are nine states that do not currently use a driver's license point system:

  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

How long does a speeding ticket stay on your driving record?

In many states, a moving violation stays on your record for 3 to 10 years. Less serious moving violations, such as running a stop sign, tend to stay on your record for much less time than something serious like a DUI. In fact, serious offenses may stay on your record for life.

When it comes to how long a speeding ticket or points will stay on your driving record, it depends on the state you live in and how fast you were actually going. To find out, you can contact your local DMV and ask.

How much does insurance go up after a speeding ticket?

If a speeding ticket goes on your driving record, you can expect your rate to increase by 22% to 30%, on average, according to an Insurance.com rate analysis. That equates to $290 more a year.

Some of the most expensive states for insurance once a speeding ticket is on your record include North Carolina, California and Oklahoma. If you get a ticket for going 11-16 mph over the speed limit, your rate will increase by 50%, 34% or 30%, respectively.

Insurance company surcharge after a speeding ticket

Confused young woman

That surcharge, or penalty, will hang around long after you forget why you were speeding that day in the first place.

"It varies by insurer, but a speeding ticket can affect your insurance premium for at least three years," says Kristofer Kirchen, president of Advanced Insurance Managers in Tampa, Florida.

Insurers are not automatically notified of a speeding transgression. Instead, they have to pull your DMV record, which costs them money. "Most insurers will only pull your record once a year, even less if you have a clean record," says Kirchen.

While you may not see a ticket surcharge for one or two renewal periods, inevitably, your car insurance company will get wind of your moving violation.

How much does insurance go up after two speeding tickets?

That second ticket typically nets an average 43% increase in rates, according to Insurance.com's rate data analysis.

You may get lucky with that ticket if it's the only one on your record, says Insurance.com consumer analyst Penny Gusner. "Some insurers cut motorists some slack and won't surcharge on a minor violation," says Gusner. (See which tickets are most likely to affect your insurance.)

But what you really don't want is a second moving violation during your insurance company's look-back period, usually three years, says Insurance.com Managing Editor Michelle Megna.

"One is a mistake," Megna says. "Two is a pattern of risk."

How to get a speeding ticket off your record?

If you recently got hit with a speeding ticket, you might be wondering what you can do to avoid having it affect your driving record and paying more in insurance. You have a few options, some of which allow you to keep points off your license and therefore, prevent your insurance company from ever even knowing you got pulled over. However, your options vary by state.

Here are 6 ways driver can use to keep ticket off of their record:

Don't automatically pay the ticket

Writing a check

When it comes to a traffic ticket, take your time. In most jurisdictions, you have at least 30 days to pay the fine or enter a plea. Use the time to explore your options. The website for the clerk's office of the court listed at the bottom of your ticket is a good place to start.

"First and foremost, don't pay your ticket, since it essentially admits guilt," warns Bradley Groene, with Luftman, Heck & Associates in Cincinnati.

Your options will vary depending on your jurisdiction, but you can:

  • Pay the fine, admit guilt and ensure that any moving violation appears on your state driving record, where your insurer can find it.
  • Contest the ticket and ask for your date in traffic court. You should get the chance to plea bargain. If you go to trial and lose, you pay the fine and the ticket goes on your record. You may have to pay court costs as well.
  • Seek traffic school or deferred adjudication, which would prevent a moving violation conviction from appearing on your driving record.

If your offense is minor – say, speeding at 10 mph over the limit outside a school or construction zone – and your record is otherwise pretty clean, you'll probably be offered some means of avoiding both a court appearance and a black mark on your record.

Ask for a deferral

Calendar

A deferral means that the court finds you guilty but defers entering those findings for a certain amount of time; a year is common. If you get through the deferral period without any citations, the ticket will be dismissed or marked "adjudication withheld."  

However, if you get another ticket in the deferral period, both tickets hit your record and your insurance will probably skyrocket as a high-risk driver.

There is usually a fee of $100 to $150. There may be a limit on the number of deferrals you are granted. In Washington, for example, it's one every seven years. You're unlikely to be offered a deferral if your record is already checkered, or for some violations, such as school-zone violations.

Ask for traffic school

Traffic school

A defensive driving course as an alternative resolution is not available in every state or for every infraction, but it can be a lifesaver.

"This is not always an option, but if it is, take it," advises Gusner. "Your ticket will be deferred, and upon proof of course completion the ticket will be dismissed or marked as ‘adjudication withheld.' Your insurer will never know."

Expect to pay a fee for the class itself and administrative or court fees on top of that.

Some states limit how often you can use a traffic school option; Florida, for example, limits you to once a year, and in California, it's 18 months.

Ask for a better deal

Plea bargain

In some jurisdictions, it's possible to contact the clerk of court or the prosecutor handling your case and ask to have your offense knocked down to a non-moving violation. You also may be able to approach the prosecutor on your appearance date before your case is called.

You may have to pay court costs and a fine, but if your insurer is none the wiser it could be worth the effort.

Plea bargaining isn't permitted everywhere.

You also may be able to ask for mitigation, pleading guilty but presenting your side of the story. Basically, you are asking the judge to lower your fine. Many states allow you to mitigate via written statements.

The outcome is up to the judge. The fine may be lowered or stay the same, and it cannot increase. Regardless of what happens to the fine, you are pleading guilty, the infraction will end up on your DMV record, and eventually your insurer will find out.

Contest the ticket

Courtroom

Here you plead not guilty and go to court to argue with your accuser, alone or with the help of a lawyer.

A lawyer is not a requirement in traffic court, but hiring one can make things easier.

While you may imagine yourself as Perry Mason, there is a good chance court will be intimidating. "Most people don't have experience with traffic law. It's very easy to make a mistake in explaining your side of what happened," warns Groene.

You can call witnesses and present evidence. Your main goal is to create enough doubt, or even sympathy, to get the ticket dismissed or knocked down to a non-moving violation.

"For major violations like a DUI, or if my license were at stake, there's no way I would go to court without a lawyer," Megna says.

How to save on car insurance with a speeding ticket?

Speedometer

For whatever reason, you now have a conviction for a moving violation on your record, a fine to pay and a possible increase in your insurance rates to deal with. Consider these options:

Paying the fine: Many courts will accept payments over time. You may be able to ask for community service in lieu of a fine.

Removing driver's license points: Some states – Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, New York and Virginia among them – allow you to remove points from your motor vehicle record by completing a traffic school course. You may see an insurance discount as well. See "10 things you need to know about driver's license points."

Shopping around: Insurance companies use their own point systems for traffic violations, and they're all different. Comparing car insurance quotes can save you money. For example, looking at rates from six major carriers for a speeding violation of 16 to 29 mph over the limit:

  • State Farm – 12%
  • Allstate – 14%
  • Nationwide – 17%
  • Farmers – 23%
  • Progressive – 30%
  • Geico – 37%

Increasing your deductible: If your insurance premium is now higher due to a speeding ticket, one way to offset that increase is by raising your deductible. Just be sure that if you do, you can afford the higher amount in the event you do need to file a claim.

Updating your mileage: If your driving habits have changed – maybe you now work from home instead of commuting to the office every day – it pays to update your mileage with your insurance company. Many insurers offer discounts for driving less than the average number of miles per year.

Installing an anti-theft device: Car insurance companies also offer discounts to drivers who make it tougher for criminals to steal their vehicles, or make it easier to recover a stolen vehicle. By installing a car alarm or LoJack, for instance, you could earn a discount of 5% to 30%.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best auto insurance company if I have a speeding ticket?

According to Insure.com data, State Farm, Allstate and Nationwide have the lowest rate increases for speeding tickets, on average. Of course, you'll also need to consider the base policy amount, which may be higher than other insurers.

How can I get a speeding ticket off my driving record?

You have a few options for getting the ticket removed from your records. For example, if you feel you were wrongly ticketed, you can contest it in court. There's no guarantee the ticket will be dropped, but it can be worth trying if you think you have a solid case. Some states will also let you attend driving school in exchange for having a speeding ticket withheld from your driving record. Or you could see if the clerk of court or prosecutor handling your case is willing to knock your offense down to a non-moving violation.

Can I get a ticket removed after I have already pled guilty?

If you already pled guilty to a speeding violation and it's been noted on your driving record, unfortunately, it's pretty difficult to have removed after the fact. You could hire a lawyer and attempt to get it removed, or you can simply wait for the ticket to fall off of your record in a few years. The good news is the courts usually try to avoid this situation because of the time and cost involved, so they sometimes offer opportunities to wipe the ticket from your record before entering a plea.

Is it worth fighting a speeding ticket?

You should consider the events leading up to your ticket and whether you believe you have a good case for having it reverse. For example, maybe your speedometer turned out to be faulty or you were experiencing a medical emergency. Unless you feel comfortable representing yourself in court, you may also need to hire an attorney, which can be pricey. The local court will also make a difference – some are willing to drop tickets or points for drivers with otherwise clean driving records, while others aren't so generous.

How to get a speeding ticket off your record

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