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 a traffic violation for rating purposes.

What is a major driving violation?

Though there is not a master list of violation classifications, there are several traffic violations that state Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and insurance companies consider 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 racing or drag racing
  • Using a vehicle to commit a felony
  • Leaving the scene of an accident or hit and run
  • Refusing to stop or fleeing from a law enforcement officer
  • Committing vehicular homicide, manslaughter or assault with an auto

What is a minor driving infraction?

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 include speeding, running a red light, failing to yield and failing to obey a traffic device.

For a list of minor traffic infractions in your state, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles.

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

While your DMV might find the following offenses to be minor infractions, some car insurance providers do not classify the following infractions as minor offenses when it comes to rate increases:

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

— Michelle Megna contributed to this story.

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Contributing Researcher

Chris Kissell is a Denver-based writer and editor with work featured on U.S. News & World Report, MSN Money, Fox Business, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Money Talks News and more.