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Traffic Tickets and Insurance-What You Need to Know

Posted Friday, April 2, 2021 by Andrew Charles Huff

Many people who receive their first ticket in a while usually want to know if it will increase insurance rates if it ends up on their driving record. The answer is “absolutely” a single ticket on your driving record can and most likely will increase your insurance rates for several years. And the specific infraction matters little, whether it is speeding, HOV violation, failing to signal, improper lane change, following too close or cell phone use. The long-term impact can be even greater for those who drive professionally such as commercial drivers. One recent insurance analysis concluded that a single ticket for speeding can increase your rates by 11% per premium period.

One fact to remember is that not every ticket, even those on your record will lead to a rate increase. Specifically, only tickets categorized as “moving” violations will cause a rate increase. “Moving” violations are those listed under WAC 308-104-160. They are 75 specific infractions committed while your car is in motion, like speeding or failing to signal and will most likely affect your rates come renewal time.Once a ticket appears on your driving record, it will be viewed by your insurance company for three years and after that time, your insurer will no longer consider this ticket in calculating your rates. For criminal driving violations, such as Driving Under the Influence, Reckless Driving or Negligent Driving in the First Degree, these convictions can lead to a much larger rate increase or even non-renewal by the insurance company, requiring you start shopping around for another insurer.

When a driver commits a moving traffic violation in our state, the Department of Licensing will record them on your driving record. If you violate too many traffic laws within a 12-month period, DOL will flag you as a problem driver and suspend your license. You can also face courts costs, reinstatement fees, additional driving restrictions and of course higher insurance rates.

What would happen if you received a traffic ticket but not in Washington state? The answer is it most likely will appear on your record. Most states including Washington have what reciprocal agreements with most other states to share information including traffic convictions. This also means that if your license is suspended in one state, another state will also honor the license conviction if you are driving there.