Getting a speeding ticket or citation can increase your car insurance cost – an average of $635 per year for one ticket. And beyond that, it’s dangerous. According to the Insurance Information Institute, “excessive speed is a factor in approximately 20% of fatal crashes. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a factor in 15% and inattention in 9.3% of fatal crashes.”

When it comes to a traffic citation vs. a speeding ticket, they mean the same thing: An official summons to appear in court for a moving violation. A conviction means you’ve been found guilty of an offense. 

Here’s what you need to know about the differences between a traffic ticket and a conviction.

Key Highlights
  • A traffic citation is not the same as a conviction.
  • A ticket means you have been cited for an offense, while a conviction means you have been found guilty of the violation.
  • The average increase from major insurance companies for one speeding ticket 1-29 mph over the limit is $543 per year; for speeding >30 mph over the limit, the average increase is $726.

What’s the difference between a citation and a conviction?

A traffic citation is not the same as a conviction. A ticket means you have been cited for an offense, while a conviction means you have been found guilty of the violation. When you receive a ticket, you can plead guilty and be convicted or fight the citation in court.

  • If you pay a fine – this means you’re pleading guilty – then you are convicted of the speeding offense, and it goes on your driving record. If you go to court and fight the ticket and are found guilty in court, then you are also convicted of the offense. After a loss in court and conviction, the ticket is placed on your driving record and counts as a moving violation conviction.
  • If you fight the traffic ticket and are found not guilty or you otherwise get the ticket dismissed, then it is not a conviction of a moving violation and does not go on your record. If you pay the ticket, you are pleading guilty, and thus it becomes a conviction, and the traffic offense is listed on your motor vehicle record (MVR).

So, if you received a speeding ticket and paid it without going to court, you pled guilty and thus were found guilty of speeding. The violation is recorded on your MVR, which your insurance company will be able to see when it pulls your MVR at renewal time.

What are the types of citations?

There are three different types of traffic citations: Warnings, fines and penalties, and misdemeanors and felonies. A citation means you’ll be paying more for your car insurance, but how much will depend on the type and severity of the ticket you received from the police.

  • Warnings: A written warning will not appear on your driving record, but you should fix the problem you were pulled over for immediately.
  • Fines and penalties: If the police issues you a citation, you can plead guilty and pay the fine; plead not guilty and contest the charge in court; or pursue a deferral and pay a fine. The exact course of action you may take depends on your state.
  • Misdemeanors and felonies: For serious traffic violations (hit and runs, DUI), you must go to court and plead guilty or not guilty. If convicted, you’ll pay hefty fines and could face driver’s license suspension and jail time.

How do tickets affect my insurance rate?

How much your insurance cost will increase after a ticket depends on a variety of factors, such as whether you have other moving violations on your record, the severity of the violation, and the insurer’s rating system. At the least, you’ll lose your good driver discount for years, which will cost you when it’s time to pay your insurance bill.

The average increase from major insurance companies for one speeding ticket 1-29 mph over the limit is $543 per year; for speeding >30 mph over the limit, the average increase is $726. And for two speeding tickets, the average increase is more than $1K per year – $1,044. 

See the differences in rates from major insurance companies in the table below after one or two speeding tickets.

Average annual insurance rates from major insurers for speeding tickets
Clean/Base Speeding Ticket 1-29 MPH Over Limit Speeding 30+ Over Limit 2 Speeding Tickets 11 mph or Over
Company Group Base Annual Premium Avg. Annual Premium $ Diff. After 1 Ticket Avg. Annual Premium $ Diff. After 1 Ticket Avg. Annual Premium $ Diff. After 2 Ticket
Allstate $2,513 $2,971 $457 $2,972 $459 $3,401 $887
American Family $1,738 $2,210 $472 $2,237 $499 $2,340 $602
Auto-Owners $1,651 $2,044 $393 $2,318 $668 $3,105 $1,454
Erie $1,335 $1,530 $195 $1,546 $211 $1,886 $551
Farmers $2,740 $3,546 $806 $4,347 $1,606 $4,269 $1,528
Geico $1,352 $2,048 $696 $2,343 $991 $2,444 $1,092
Kemper $2,604 $3,439 $835 $3,551 $947 $4,169 $1,565
Mercury $2,092 $2,823 $731 $2,842 $750 $3,480 $1,388
Nationwide $1,523 $1,976 $453 $2,604 $1,081 $2,413 $890
Progressive $1,933 $2,650 $716 $2,657 $723 $3,075 $1,142
State Farm $1,672 $1,981 $308 $2,033 $360 $2,360 $687
Travelers $1,882 $2,630 $747 $2,780 $897 $3,046 $1,163
USAA $1,272 $1,519 $247 $1,524 $252 $1,898 $626

Learn more about how much your insurance goes up after a speeding ticket

How long will a citation stay on my record?

The length of time a citation stays on your record depends on the type of violation and your state of residence. Speeding tickets typically stay on your record for three to five years, but a DUI can stay on your record anywhere from five years to life. Additionally, your insurance cost can increase up to 283% on average, according to recent CarInsurance.com data.

Final thoughts: Citation vs. conviction

If you have a moving violation that results in a conviction, your car insurance rate is likely to increase. Come renewal time, shop around to ensure you get the best price.

– Michelle Megna contributed to this story.

Resources & Methodology

Sources:

Insurance Information Institute. “Reckless Behavior on the Roads Is Dangerous – and Can Mean Higher Auto Insurance Rates for Drivers.” Accessed September 2022.

Methodology

CarInsurance.com commissioned 2022 data from Quadrant Information Services for a 40-year-old male driver with a good driving record and full coverage insurance (100/300/100 coverage limits with a $500 deductible) on a 2021 Honda Accord LX.

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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.