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What does an imprudent driving ticket mean?

Question: In the state of Wisconsin, what is the difference between a ticket for imprudent and unreasonable speeding and a regular speeding ticket?  I’m trying to figure out why I got an imprudent ticket compared to just a speeding ticket. How long will the offense stay on my record? How many points will be assessed? How could it affect my car insurance rates?

Answer:  Imprudent and unreasonable driving is used in a some states, such as Wisconsin, New York and Maine, to describe the behavior of a driver an officer perceives as not taking due care (ensuring the safety of yourself and others on the roadway). This can include actions such as speeding or careless driving.

One main difference between a regular run-of-the-mill speeding ticket and one for imprudent and unreasonable speed is that for the latter state law doesn’t assert limits of how fast a vehicle must be traveling for the driver to be cited.  It’s up to the discretion of the law enforcement officer to determine which type of ticket to give a driver.

Some theories as to why the officer wrote this type of ticket:

  • The officer thought you were traveling at an unsafe speed or driving unreasonably, but not enough to be considered reckless driving.
  • You were driving too fast for the conditions; for instance, it was raining.
  • The officer didn’t know your exact speed, but could tell you were driving above the stated speed limit so issued this type of ticket and didn’t list the mph of your vehicle. 
  • The officer could have been cutting you a break.  If you were going well over the speed limit, such as 20 mph over, an imprudent speeding ticket results in fewer points on your driving record.

To find out the exact reason why you were given an imprudent and unreasonable speeding ticket instead of a speeding ticket you’d need to ask the officer who wrote you the citation.

Driving record, points and insurance

Whether you’re convicted of a normal speeding ticket or imprudent speeding ticket, the offense stays on your Wisconsin driving record for five years.

An imprudent speeding violation, however, comes with a different fine range -- $40 to $300 for a first offense and $80 to $600 for a second or subsequent conviction within a year -- than a normal speeding ticket, which is usually only between $30 to $300. 

There are four points assessed for a conviction of imprudent driving, driving too fast for conditions or failure to have your vehicle under control (all of which could fall under a citation for imprudent and unreasonable speed). 

How points for other speeding convictions stack up:

  • Three points for speeding 1 to 10 mph over the limit
  • Four points for speeding 11 through 19 mph over the limit
  • Six points for speeding 20 mph over the limit.
  • Six points for reckless driving.

As the point totals show, your imprudent speeding ticket is considered less serious than reckless driving but more serious than some other speeding violations. 

How major or minor your offense is can directly affect your car insurance rates since insurers rate on risk.  A serious offense shows you to be a riskier driver than a minor one.

Car insurance rating system and surcharge schedules vary by insurer.  It might be that if this is the only offense on your driving record that you won’t be surcharged but will lose any good driver discount you had – which still can hurt since that can be as much as 25 percent.

If you’re surcharged, how much will depend upon if you insurer views this offense as minor or major.  Typically, surcharges for minor offenses will start around 10 percent (but can be higher), and for major offenses it can be 30 percent or more. 

If you’re curious how this violation will affect your rates with your current car insurance carrier, then request a copy of its surcharge schedule.  If your rates will rise due to this ticket, do a car insurance comparison to make sure you’re receiving the cheapest car insurance rates possible. Other insurers may not see the ticket the same way.

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1 Responses to "What does an imprudent driving ticket mean?"
  1. Gordon

    This kind of vague, undefined offense fails to contain the clear, precise guidance that the motorists deserve in order to know exactly what's expected of them. Fuzzy, subjectively triggered statutes are always an invitation to abuse.