Top 7 traffic tickets that can kick up your car insurance rate
If you're pulled over because you've committed a moving violation, the cost of your traffic ticket may not be your biggest financial concern.
Each time you're cited for a moving violation, you risk raising your car insurance premium, says Michael Barry, a spokesman for the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute.
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the average yearly cost for auto insurance was $797 in 2011, the most recent year data is available.
Insurance companies consider your driving history when setting your rate, along with other factors such as your age and how many miles you drive.
When you shop for car insurance, the carrier will ask about the driving record of everyone who will be covered under the policy, Barry says. "Having a clean driver's record is one way to save money on auto insurance."
Most drivers know that a major moving violation, like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI), will send your car insurance rate soaring -- and it could stay that way for up to 10 years.
However, a study released in March 2014 by insuranceQuotes.com found that even comparatively minor violations -- such as improperly using carpool lanes -- can greatly boost rates.
Generally, most moving violations will stay on your record for three years, says Karl Newman, president of the Seattle-based NW Insurance Council trade group. An exception is a DUI, which typically will remain on your record for between five and 10 years.
Here are the top seven traffic tickets that will kick up your car insurance rate.
7. Driving in a carpool lane - 18 percent increase
When the traffic is heavy on the freeway, you may be tempted to sneak into the carpool lane, even if you lack the required number of passengers. The insuranceQuotes.com study says getting caught will raise your insurance premium by 18 percent, on average.
Your best bet is to follow local laws and use carpool lanes only when it's legal to do so.
6. Failure to yield to pedestrians - 19 percent increase
Being cited for failing to yield to pedestrians will raise your insurance rates by 19 percent on average. This violation typically involves entering a crosswalk when pedestrians have begun crossing on a green light or "walk" signal.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, one way to avoid a ticket is to not pass vehicles that have stopped at crosswalks to allow pedestrians to cross safely.
5. Failure to stop - 19 percent increase
Examples of failure to stop include failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks or to children who are boarding or leaving school buses.
To avoid such tickets, drivers should to be prepared to stop when they see stoplights turn amber, advises Troy Slaten, a criminal defense attorney at the Los Angeles law firm of Floyd, Skeren & Kelly. It's a mistake to accelerate in an attempt to make it through the intersection before an amber light turns red, he adds.
4. Speeding 1 to 15 mph over the limit - 21 percent increase
Driving between 1 and 15 miles over the speed limit could cost you an extra 21 percent for car insurance. Avoid the temptation to speed by giving yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.
If your car is equipped with cruise control, Slaten says you should use it to avoid accidently exceeding the speed limit.
3. Careless driving - 27 percent increase
You typically are cited for careless driving when you drive in a negligent manner that endangers people or property. Careless behaviors may include illegal lane changes or talking on your cellphone.
The insuranceQuotes.com study found this violation could raise your insurance costs by 27 percent. One tip for avoiding this is to not make frequent lane changes, which are viewed by police as a sign of careless driving, Slaten says.
2. Reckless driving - 82 percent increase
Reckless driving convictions are issued when drivers display deliberate disregard for the rules of the road, Slaten says. "It's a wanton disregard for people and property."
Like a DUI conviction, this violation can stay on your driving record for a long time. For example, in Virginia, it will remain there for 11 years, according to the state DMV.
1. DUI / DWI - 93 percent increase
If your car insurance company finds out you've been convicted for driving under the influence, your rates will almost double -- and for good reason.
In 2012, more than 10,000 deaths in the U.S. -- 31 percent of all auto deaths -- involved an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Reid Hart, a Jacksonville attorney at Jax Arrest, says the way to avoid DUIs is simply to not drink and drive. If you've been drinking and don't have someone else to drive you, call a cab, he says. Fines, legal defense and other costs associated with DUIs can exceed $5,000, he adds.
See how much you could save today on your car insurance. Get your free auto insurance quotes today!