Drivers have also avoided tickets by requesting a warning.

Giving an excuse when you get stopped for speeding actually works.

Nearly half of American drivers surveyed by say they’ve avoided speeding tickets by giving an excuse to a police officer. The result is a huge increase from last year’s survey when about one-quarter of drivers acknowledged successfully giving an excuse to get out of a ticket.

Those excuses were often truthful, too. The survey of 1,000 drivers found that only 12% of respondents lied when they gave excuses, which was a significant drop to last year’s survey when about one-third admitted they lied.

This year’s results:

  • I haven’t given an excuse to avoid a ticket — 56%
  • It was the truth, so I hoped being honest would get me out of the ticket — 33%
  • It was a fib this time because I used it before when it was true and it got me out of a ticket — 9%
  • Even though it was a lie, I hoped it would get me out of the ticket — 3%

Men and younger drivers are more apt to use excuses to avoid a speeding citation. 69% of women said they’ve never done that. That’s compared to 43% of men.

Only 25% of drivers between 18 and 24 years old said they haven’t given an excuse to get out of a speeding ticket. That’s compared to about three-quarters of drivers over 55 years old who said they’ve never given an excuse to sidestep a speeding ticket.

Written by:
Les Masterson
Managing Editor
Les Masterson has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, editing and content creation. In his career, he has covered everything from health insurance to presidential politics.
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Ashlee Tilford
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Managing Editor
Ashlee is a dynamic business writer with a special focus on finance. With an MBA and more than twelve years in the finance industry, Ashlee brings a practical and relatable perspective to the area of business writing. She is passionate about personal finance and empowering others with the knowledge to succeed. When she isn’t writing, Ashlee manages a team of supply chain professionals at a university and enjoys spending free time with her partner and dog on their farm in Kentucky.

Most successful excuses to avoid speeding tickets

This year’s most successful excuse to get out of a speeding ticket is a common refrain at traffic stops — “I didn’t know I was speeding.”

  • I didn’t know I was speeding — 26%
  • Medical emergency — 25%
  • Everyone else was going the same speed — 22%
  • Late for work — 21%
  • I had to use the bathroom — 20%
  • Late for an interview – 16%
  • Late to pick up or drop my child off — 15%
  • I didn’t see the sign — 14%
  • Late for court appointment — 13%
  • Late for doctor appointment — 13%
  • Late to meet friends — 12%
  • I’m bringing home hot food and didn’t want it to get cold — 11%
  • Late to meet partner, husband or wife — 11%
  • Late for a date — 10%
  • Late for a funeral — 10%
  • Late for concert, performance, sporting event, dinner reservation — 9%

Requesting a warning can get you out of a speeding ticket

We’ve found that excuses are a way to avoid a citation. You can also request a warning.

More than one-third (36%) of drivers said they’ve requested a warning. Nearly half of those drivers said they were successful asking for a warning — and didn’t offer an excuse.

Forty-eight percent said they requested a warning without giving an excuse and got out of a speeding ticket. That’s up from 41% in both 2019 and 2020 surveys.

That tack didn’t work for everyone though. Twenty-nine percent said they asked for a warning without an excuse and still got a ticket.

Also, 12% said they requested a warning, gave an excuse and got out of a ticket and 11% requested a warning, provided an excuse and still got a ticket.

Men are more likely than women to request a warning when pulled over for speeding. Fifty-two percent of men said they asked for a warning, compared to just 20% of women.

Men are also more likely to get a warning if they request one. More than half of men said they asked for a warning without an excuse and got out of a ticket. Only 36% of women were successful.

Women were also less successful than men if they gave an excuse and requested a warning. Twenty-one percent of women said they still got a ticket when they offered an excuse and requested a warning. Only 7% of men said the same.

How often are drivers pulled over for speeding?

About half of drivers say they’ve either never been pulled over for speeding or haven’t in about 10 years. Around one-third of drivers say they’ve been pulled over within the past year.

Fifty-five percent of drivers who’ve been pulled over in the past 10 years only got stopped once in that time. Thirty-four percent said two or three times.

Women are much more likely to say they’ve never been pulled over than men. Forty-two percent of women say they’ve never been stopped for speeding, compared to just 15% of men. Those are similar results to the 2020 survey.

Appealing a speeding ticket works

You can appeal the decision if you get a speeding ticket, but we found most people just pay the fine. Only 28% who got a ticket said they went to court to appeal the decision.

The good news for the appealers is that most of them were successful, especially women who represented themselves in court.

  • Represented myself, got out of ticket — 43% (55% of women; 40% of men)
  • Hired a lawyer, got out of ticket — 35% (22% of women; 39% of men)
  • Represented myself, still got the ticket — 14% (19% of women; 13% of men)
  • Hired a lawyer, still got the ticket — 7% (4% of women; 8% of men)

The 42% of people who said they hired a lawyer for their appeal were mostly pleased with the hiring. Ninety-one percent said they thought the cost was worth it.

How much did the lawyer cost?

  • $100 to $299 — 35%
  • Under $100 — 27%
  • $300 to $499 — 23%
  • $500 to $699 — 11%
  • Over $700 — 5%

How fast is too fast?

Though just about everyone speeds, most say they don’t drive that much over the limit.

Seventy-nine percent of drivers say they drive within 10 mph of the speed limit — though men were more apt to say they floor it at times.

  • 5 to 10 mph over the limit — 52% (52% of both men and women)
  • Under 5 mph over the limit — 27% (32% of women; 22% of men)
  • 11 to 15 mph over the limit — 14% (13% of women; 15% of men)
  • 16 to 29 over the limit — 4% (2% of women; 6% of men)
  • 30 or more over the limit — 3% (2% of women; 5% of men)

Why do drivers speed?

Most drivers admit to speeding at least on occasion, but they disagree on why they speed. Many want to keep up with other vehicles, but some aren’t fans of current speed limits.

  • To keep up with flow of traffic and not be run over — 48% (same percentage as 2020)
  • To arrive on time — 17% (a drop from 34% in 2020)
  • Speed limits are generally too low, in my opinion — 10% (down from 20% in 2020)
  • I think it’s safe to drive 20 mph or less over the limit on most occasions — 8% (down from 18% in 2020)
  • Distracted by traffic, daydreaming, etc. and don’t realize I’m speeding — 8%
  • I think it’s safe to drive over the speed limit, regardless of by how much — 7%

How often do they speed?

Most of those who speed say they don’t drive that much over the limit — or do so by mistake:

  • Almost always, I usually go 5 to 10 miles over the limit — 34%
  • Rarely, usually because I don’t notice I’m over the limit or didn’t see the limit change — 31%
  • Sometimes, if I’m late for an appointment or to pick up my child, etc. — 20%
  • Almost always, I usually go 11 or more miles over the limit — 15%

Where do they speed?

Most drivers say there are places and instances where it’s OK to speed, such as on the highway. However, residential streets are not the place to put the pedal to the metal.

Here’s where and when drivers said it’s OK to speed:

  • On the highway/freeway — 64%
  • When it’s sunny with dry roads– 25%
  • On residential streets — 8%
  • When it’s rainy and roads are wet — 6%
  • On any street at any time — 6%
  • When it’s snowing — 6%
  • When roads are flooded — 4%
  • When it’s icy — 4%
  • Anytime with any weather conditions — 1%
  • When kids are in the car — 1%

What percentage of other drivers speed?

Most drivers admit to speeding — and they also think the vast majority of other drivers exceed the limit, too.

Here are the percentages of drivers who speed, according to respondents:

  • 80% of drivers speed — 19%
  • 70% — 19%
  • 90% — 17%
  • 60% — 12%
  • 50% — 12%
  • 100% — 9%
  • 40% — 5%
  • 30% — 3%
  • 20% — 2%
  • Less than 10% — 1%
  • 10% — 1%

What to do if you get pulled over for speeding?

Most drivers have been pulled over. It’s often how you react to getting stopped that’s vital to whether you get a warning or a hefty ticket with massive insurance hikes.

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Have you experienced any consequences of a speeding ticket from a different state?

Michael Lowe, CEO of Car, has been pulled over only once. Lowe said he was just going 3 mph over the speed limit and received a warning.

“I stayed calm throughout the whole ordeal and had a chat with the officer who had stopped me. Of course, some may be more lenient than others; however, they will always check your record. As mine was clean, he could see that it was an honest mistake and one that I’ve learned from,” Lowe recalled.

Paul Petti, a retired police lieutenant and director at Police Career and Promotion Services, said there’s nothing wrong with requesting a warning if you’re only going five or 10 miles over the speed limit.

“Done politely, a sincere apology with a request for a warning can be helpful. Remember, however, that officers are often assigned to specific traffic ‘hot spots’ by supervisors and expected to write citations,” Petti said.

When pulled over, Petti suggested that people remain positive, keep their hands in sight and don’t make any sudden movements. That includes not quickly moving to get your license and registration.

“Don’t forget – a little niceness and human-to-human courtesy goes both ways and is appreciated,” Petti said.

James M. Wirth, an attorney with Wirth Law Group, P.C., in Tulsa, Oklahoma, suggested drivers don’t argue with officers.

“To win an argument with a traffic officer, you have to be in court in front of a judge. So, if your goal is to avoid court, there is no upside to arguing and a definite downside,” Wirth said.

“Officers regularly give people breaks, but only with the hope that people will appreciate it for what it is, generosity on the officer’s part.

If you demonstrate an attitude of entitlement, you negate the officer’s only incentive to cut you slack.”

Even if you still get a ticket, an officer may lessen the charge if you’re polite. For instance, Wirth said Oklahoma charges drivers at least 2 points for driving 11 or more miles over the speed limit.

Speeders clocked going less than that don’t get points on their license, so police don’t report it to insurance companies.

“If you question the motives of the officer and demand to see the radar because the officer is obviously hiding something or playing games, that generous offer may be rescinded,” Wirth said.

If you get a ticket, Wirth also recommended that you sign the ticket promptly. Signing the ticket doesn’t admit guilt. Instead, it’s a promise to either pay the fine or appear in court. Not paying a ticket could result in an arrest to ensure that you appear in court, Wirth said.

“There is probably nothing more aggravating for an officer than trying to convince a skeptical driver that he/she really is acting in their best interest when trying to convince them to sign and that he/she isn’t being a jerk by saying that if you don’t promise to appear in court, I have to arrest you,” Wirth said.

Even if you get a speeding ticket, you can appeal the decision. Petti said the best way to be successful when going to court is:

  • Request the officer’s testimony. If they don’t show up, you win your case.
  • Ask if the officer clocked you on a speedometer or used radar — and whether the radar or speedometer has been calibrated within the last six months.

Officers may hand out dozens of tickets in a month, but if you’re a problem, the officer will likely remember you — and make sure to attend your hearing.

“You don’t want to do anything to make your traffic stop more memorable or that would motivate the officer to make sure to show up for your traffic trial.

Act like a jerk and you can bet the officer will perfectly recollect the traffic stop and the time and date and time of your trial,” Wirth said.

How much do speeding tickets increase car insurance costs?

Getting a speeding ticket can be pricey. You pay the fine — and your car insurance rates also rise. found that car insurance rates increase between 22% and 30% on average after a speeding ticket. You may see a steeper rate increase based on your insurer, your state and how much you were speeding.

North Carolina has the highest car insurance rate increases for drivers who get a ticket for traveling between 11 to 16 mph over the speed limit. North Carolina drivers caught speeding between 11 and 16 mph over the speed limit pay on average 50% higher rates.

Insurers in states often charge much higher rates based on your speed. For instance, Michigan insurance companies charge 29% higher rates on average for drivers caught going 11 to 16 mph over the speed limit.

Compare that to a driver going more than 30 mph over the speed limit. Michigan insurers increase rates by an average of 70% for those drivers.

Meanwhile, California drivers pay an average of 43% more for speeding, whether it’s 11 mph or 30 mph over the limit.

Your insurance company factors how much speeding will increase your car insurance costs. Among the six top insurers, found the following rate increases after a speeding ticket 16 to 19 mph over the limit:

  • Allstate — 20%
  • Farmers — 24%
  • Geico — 31%
  • Nationwide — 19%
  • Progressive — 31%
  • State Farm — 27%

The number of tickets also plays a part in rates. Multiple speeding tickets over three years can get you classified as a “high-risk driver.”

Insurance companies charge drivers with two or more speeding tickets an average of 43% more. That could double the rate increase for one ticket.

Shop around to save on car insurance

If you get a speeding ticket, your next renewal could be a great time to shop around for car insurance. Your rate won’t increase immediately. Instead, your insurance company reviews your driving record at renewal time and jacks up the rates accordingly.

Some car insurance companies offer a low rate for drivers with speeding tickets and other infractions. Another insurer may view the same driver suspiciously and jack up prices.

You can save by conducting a car insurance comparison. Get quotes for the same coverage from multiple insurance companies. Make sure to find out about potential discounts from each company.

Whether you’re caught for speeding or have a perfect driving record, shopping around for auto insurance at least every three years can help save you hundreds.

Methodology in March 2021 commissioned Op4G to field a survey asking 1,000 drivers about their speeding habits.


Laura Longero

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Laura Longero

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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, and 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.

Leslie Kasperowicz

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Leslie Kasperowicz

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Leslie Kasperowicz is an insurance educator and content creation professional with nearly two decades of experience first directly in the insurance industry at Farmers Insurance and then as a writer, researcher, and educator for insurance shoppers writing for sites like and and managing content, now at

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Managing Editor

Les Masterson has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, editing and content creation. In his career, he has covered everything from health insurance to presidential politics.