It is a common question: How long will my ticket stay on my driving record? There is no blanket answer since each state has its own laws regarding how long a violation will remain on a driver’s record.

Most states generally allow convictions for moving violations to remain on your driver’s record for three, five, seven or 10 years. If the ticket was for something minor — such as failure to stop at a stop sign — it might stay on your record for less time than a major offense.

If the violation was more serious — such as for driving under the influence (DUI) — states typically keep this offense on your record for longer. Some states keep it on your driver’s history permanently. And DUI car insurance rates are among the highest increases for moving violations. 

Your driving record has a direct impact on your car insurance rates. A history of tickets or other violations indicates you are a more significant risk to an insurance company.

“It varies by company how violations affect your insurance rates and for how long,” says Carole Walker, the executive director of Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

The more checkered your driving history, the more you will pay. Keep reading to find out more.

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Written by:
Laura Longero
Executive Editor
Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

How long will an offense stay on my driving record?

A violation will remain on your record for varying lengths depending on your state.

For example, most moving and nonmoving violations in Florida remain on your record for three to five years. Severe offenses can stay on your record for 10 years, 15 years or longer.

A severe violation — such as an alcohol-related offense — stays on your record in Florida for 75 years.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, tickets usually can stay on your driving record from three years to 11 years. A few offenses — such as driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence — remain on your record for life.

Wondering how long a violation will remain on your record in your state? Walker suggests checking with your state motor vehicle department.

“Most have good resources on their website that provide information on traffic violations, how it can affect your driving record and options for recourse,” she says.

Options for recourse might include processes that allow you to protest a ticket, or actions you can take to improve your driving record, such as enrolling in a defensive-driving course.

What’s the difference between a surcharge and a rate hike?

If you are guilty of bad driving behavior, your insurer will penalize you with a surcharge.

Insurance premium surcharges are fees charged to your policy for driving behavior that makes you a higher risk to insure. You might receive a surcharge if you have a history of:

  • At-fault crashes
  • Speeding tickets
  • Reckless driving

“These surcharges will generally drop off (your policy) after a period of time if you are accident-free (and) have no moving-violation tickets,” Walker says.

The key to moving beyond a surcharge is demonstrating that you have improved your driving habits. Doing so will “put you in a better driver-risk category,” Walker says.

But a surcharge is not the same as a rate hike.

“A rate hike is an increased premium on your policy for a variety of reasons — some outside your control,” Walker says. For example, you might be charged more based on your age, or where you live.

A few items within your control can lead to a rate hike, such as the type of car you drive. Some vehicles are more expensive to insure than others.

FAQ: Tickets and your driving record

How can I check my driving record?

A periodic record check can ensure that everything listed — and that could affect your driver’s license or insurance rates — is correct. Not all driving records contain your total driving history. Some states have shortened records that do not show violations that have been dismissed by the courts or otherwise removed from your record.

To ensure you get the most comprehensive driver’s history, order a complete record from your state’s department of motor vehicles or its equivalent. You typically must provide a valid license number, birth date and name.

If you find an error on the record, you must contact the driver’s license division, usually the DMV, for your state. States keep motor vehicle records on all drivers. You do not need to be licensed to have a motor vehicle record started.

What should I do if I receive a surcharge on my policy?

If your insurance premium increases or you notice a surcharge on your premium notice, contact your insurer and ask about it.

“Most states have disclosure requirements that dictate how and when your insurance company must inform you about any adverse changes to your premiums,” Walker says.

Insurance companies typically look back at your record for three to five years, depending upon what the state insurance regulatory body allows and an insurance company’s guidelines.

In some states, however, some laws limit how far back the insurance company can “look back” to determine rates, even if the violation remains on your driving record for a more extended time.

Final thoughts: Your driving record

A good driving record free of moving violations and points can help you get better auto insurance rates and even a good driver discount.

You can improve your driving record in some states by taking traffic school or a driver improvement class. Your DMV will be able to inform you if such programs are available in your state.

“It is always a good idea to periodically discuss your insurance policy and how it works with your own insurance professional,” Walker says. “Doing so can help you learn more about your insurance premium, and any potential discounts that may be available.”

 

Laura Longero

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Laura Longero

Executive Editor

Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

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John McCormick

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John is the editorial director for CarInsurance.com, Insurance.com and Insure.com. Before joining QuinStreet, John was a deputy editor at The Wall Street Journal and had been an editor and reporter at a number of other media outlets where he covered insurance, personal finance, and technology.

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Executive Editor

Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.