Question: I was driving to college with my friends and one of them got a ticket while driving my car. I just obtained an insurance policy of my own and I don’t want my rates to go any higher, so will his ticket affect my rates? And does he have to pay it since it was in a state he doesn’t live or go to college in? Can we all just ignore it?
Answer: It is a seriously bad idea to ignore any traffic ticket. Nothing good can come of it, and a lot of bad things probably will. But let's start with the good news first.
Your friend's traffic tickets shouldn't affect your insurance rates. When on a road trip, other drivers are usually covered to operate your vehicle as permissive drivers. Your rates are determined by the risks posed by listed drivers -- the people named specifically on the policy.
Even though your friend was driving your car, unless he is listed on your policy as a driver, your auto insurance company wouldn’t have a reason to look at his driving record and thus change your rates. Your friend doesn’t need to be rated as a driver on your policy unless he’s your roommate or frequently drives your vehicle and your insurer labels him as an occasional driver. (See "Who can drive your car?")
It's a different story if he crashes your car, though. Because insurance follows the car, any claim would go through your auto insurance policy (even if he’s not a listed driver on it) and could be counted against you so that higher rates would likely result.
Now let's look at what a horrifically bad idea it is to ignore a traffic citation.
What exactly happens varies by state, of course, but you can expect an ignored ticket to follow you out of state.
Most states are part of the Non-Resident Violator Compact (NRVC) and recognize the rights of other states to penalize traffic violators. If the penalty for ignoring the ticket in the state that nabbed your friend is a suspended license, the your home state would also suspend his license until the ticket was taken care of. When your license is suspended in your home state, it’s not valid in any state.
All states except Alaska, California, Michigan, Montana, Oregon and Wisconsin are part of this interstate agreement.
Even if your friend’s home state isn’t part of the NRVC, his driver’s license could still be affected when his name is placed on the National Driver Registry (NDR) by the ticketing state after it suspends his license for failure to comply. Being listed on the NDR would keep your friend from being able to renew his license or receive a new one.
A suspended license would affect his ability to drive and get auto insurance. Penalties are severe if he is caught driving without a valid license.
While this ticket won’t affect your rates, being a young driver makes you an automatic high risk to insurers. You can do keep your rates manageable in part by maintaining a clean driving record and making yourself eligible for a good student discount. Also, shop around to make certain you’re getting the cheapest student auto rates -- spending a few minutes to compare car insurance quotes can save you hundreds of dollars, if not more.