There is not one set in stone list of what is considered a minor traffic infraction and what is considered to be a major violation. How a state for licensing and points purposes classifies an infraction can differ from how a car insurance company classifies the traffic violation for rating purposes.

Though there is not a master list of violation classifications, there is however several traffic violations that many states’ Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and insurance companies consider to be major when you are convicted of them. The offenses typically determined to be major violations include:

  • Operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or narcotics (DUI or DWI)
  • Driving with a suspended, revoked or invalid license
  • Reckless driving or negligent driving
  • Speed race or drag race
  • Use of a vehicle to commit a felony
  • Hit and run, leaving the scene of an accident
  • Refusing to stop or fleeing from a law enforcement officer
  • Vehicular homicide, manslaughter or assault with an auto

Minor infractions would thus tend to be most any other traffic violations you receive that is not considered to be a major or serious offense. Common minor offenses are things such as speeding, running a red light, failing to yield and failure to obey a traffic device. Minor violations are too numerous to list here but if the infractions is not on the major violation list then chances are it is considered to be a minor violation.

With your DMV you can normally tell what is considered to be a major violation because it comes with a high number of points or instead of points an automatic suspension of your driver’s license. If you want to know what your specific state considers being major traffic infractions you should ask your Department of Motor Vehicles, or like state licensing agency, for information.

With car insurance what is considered major or minor can vary from one insurance company to another. Typically what we listed above is considered major but your auto insurance provider may have other violations they also consider to be major and so your car insurance rates are higher due to that.

Your agent should be able to tell you what your specific automobile insurance company determines to be major violations, what other offenses are then considered minor and even what offenses may not be considered at all for rating purposes.

While your DMV might find the following offenses to be minor infractions, some car insurance providers do not even classify the following items as chargeable minor offense (meaning it will not affect your rates):

  • A motor vehicle equipment requirement violation
  • Failure to display proper license plate numbers provided such license plates are in existence
  • Failure to have in possession an operator’s license provided that there is one in existence
  • Failure to sign or display registration card
  • Failure to wear a seat belt
  • failure to provide proof of insurance when required and in policy is in effect.

Some auto insurance companies will find the above items to be chargeable (if state insurance laws allow) so again to find out how your current auto insurance company classifies violations, speak to your agent.

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Michelle Megna
Editorial Director

Michelle is a writer, editor and expert on car insurance and personal finance. Prior to joining, she reported and edited articles on technology, lifestyle, education and government for magazines, websites and major newspapers, including the New York Daily News.