It is a common question we receive - how long will my ticket stay on my driving record? There is not a blanket answer, since each state has its own laws regarding how long a violation associated with a ticket or citation will remain on a driver's record.
In general, most states 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 may 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 a longer period of time. 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 bigger potential risk to an insurance company.
"It varies by company how violations affect your insurance rates, and for how long," says Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.
The more checkered your driving history is, the more you are likely to pay. For example, one ticket may cost you a good driver discount. Additional tickets may result in paying even higher costs. How your car insurance is affected by tickets will depend on the severity of your violation, your driving record, state laws, your insurance company as well as other factors. However, you’ll see in the chart below how much common tickets hike your car insurance rates, on average:
|Violation||Average percent increase to rate|
|DUI/DWI third offense||255%|
|DUI/DWI second offense||163%|
|2 At-fault property damage accident over $2k||110%|
|SR22 with 1 DUI||89%|
|Hit and run - injury||87%|
|Hit and run property damage||83%|
|DUI/DWI first offense||79%|
|Operating a vehicle in a race (highway racing)||71%|
|2 speeding tickets 11 mph or over||43%|
|At-fault bodily injury accident||32%|
|1 At-fault property damage accident over $2K||31%|
|Speeding 30+ over limit||30%|
|1 At-fault property damage accident under $2K||26%|
|Distracted driving ticket||22%|
|Speeding ticket 16-29 MPH over limit||22%|
|Speeding ticket 11-15 MPH over limit||20%|
|Following too closely||20%|
|Failure to yield||20%|
|Speeding ticket 1-5 MPH over limit||20%|
|Speeding ticket 6-10 MPH over limit||20%|
|Failure to stop||19%|
|Talking on cellphone ticket||16%|
|Lapse of coverage for 60 days||13%|
|Driving without a license or permit||9%|
|Lapse of coverage for 30 days||9%|
|Lapse of coverage for 7 days||9%|
|Lapse of coverage for 15 days||9%|
|2 comprehensive claims for over $2k||8%|
|Driving without insurance||8%|
|1 comprehensive claim for over $2k||3%|
|1 comprehensive claim for under $2k||3%|
*Average rate increase assumes base rate for full coverage with $500 dedutbile for 2017 Honda Accord. Rates fielded by Quadrant Information Services from six major insurers in 10 ZIP codes in each state.
The difference between a 'surcharge' and 'rate hike'
If you are guilty of bad driving behavior, your insurer is likely to 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 to demonstrate that you have improved your driving habits. Doing so will "put you in a better driver-risk category," Walker says.
A surcharge is not the same thing as a rate hike, Walker says.
"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 cars are more expensive to insure than others.
How long will an offense stay on my driving record?
As we mentioned earlier, a violation will remain on your record for varying lengths of time depending on your state of residence.
For example, in Florida, most violations -- both moving and nonmoving -- remain on your record for three to five years. More serious violations can remain on your record for 10 years, 15 years or longer.
A very serious violation -- such as an alcohol-related offense -- stays on your record in Florida for 75 years.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, tickets normally 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.
How can I check my driving record?
A periodic check of your record 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 make certain that you are getting the most comprehensive driver's history, order a complete record from your state department of motor vehicles, or its equivalent. You typically have to provide a valid license number, your birth date and name. Some states allow you to get the report online. It will generally cost less than $15.
If you find an error on the record you will need to contact the division of driver's license, usually the DMV, for your state.
States keep motor vehicle records on all drivers. You do not even need to be licensed in order to have a motor vehicle record started for you. If you drive without a license and are stopped and convicted of a moving violation, a state can start a record on you.
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 a period of three to five years, depending upon what the state insurance regulatory body allows and an insurance company's guidelines.
In some states, however, there are laws that limit how far back the insurance company can "look back" to determine rates, even if the violation remains on your driving record for a longer period of time.
Having a good driving record, free of moving violations and points, can help you get better auto insurance rates and even a good driver discount.
In some states you can improve your driving record by taking traffic school or a driver improvement class. Your DMV will be able to give you information on if such programs are available in your state or specific area of a 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.