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  • Writer's picturejoseph retcho

Tickets that increase insurance

When you see those flashing lights in your rearview mirror, a pit in your stomach probably forms as you glance at your speedometer. You're aware that the officer behind you will most likely issue you a speeding ticket, and you're wondering if and how that ticket will affect your car insurance rates. Similarly, if you find a parking ticket on your car, you're probably wondering the same thing. There is no simple answer to the question of traffic tickets and car insurance. Discover how speeding and parking tickets affect your insurance and how to keep costs low.

Do Speeding Tickets Have an Impact on Insurance?

What effect does a speeding ticket have on your insurance? How much more you'll have to pay depends on how fast you were going and how far you went over the speed limit.

How Much Does a Speeding Ticket Increase Insurance Cost?

Every insurance company has its own rules. In New Jersey, you can expect a 10 to 15% increase in premiums if you exceed the speed limit by 1 to 14 miles per hour (2 violation points). Worth noting, some insurance companies will waive the first 2 point speeding ticket from rating. If you exceed the speed limit by 15 to 29 miles per hour (4 violation points), your insurance rates could increase by up to 25%. In the worst case scenario, if you exceed the speed limit by 30+ miles per hour (5 violation points, becomes a major violation), the insurance companies can increase your rate by 35% or more, or worst yet, non-renew your policy.

Do Parking Tickets Have an Impact on Insurance?

A parking ticket is not as serious as a speeding ticket in the eyes of your insurer. A parking ticket is unlikely to affect your insurance rate.

Defending a Parking Ticket

Most drivers do not park illegally on purpose. Parking signs can be perplexing! Furthermore, the rules and regulations governing parking hours are subject to change. Drivers who park in a clearly marked no-parking zone or are otherwise in violation should pay the ticket as soon as possible. However, if you did not park illegally or the situation is questionable, you should file an appeal right away.

If you contest the ticket, you should be given a date to appear in traffic court. The officer who issued the ticket must also appear. A judge will decide whether the parking ticket is warranted after you present as much evidence as possible.

What Happens If You Don't Pay Your Parking Fine?

What you don't want to do is simply ignore a parking ticket. Collection agencies may be notified of your unpaid debt, which can have an impact on your credit score. Insurance companies typically use credit scores to determine insurance rates, so if your credit score suffers, you may end up paying a higher premium.

Furthermore, your state's Department of Motor Vehicles may refuse to renew your registration or license if you have outstanding parking tickets. If you do not pay the fine, you may end up driving illegally due to a license suspension. If you are stopped or involved in an accident, you may be arrested for driving while unlicensed, and your car insurance may not cover you.

Citations for Public vs. Private Parking

Remember that only parking tickets issued by law enforcement have an impact on your driving record. Parking tickets issued by private entities, such as shopping malls, for infractions are not recorded on your driving record. That is not to say you should disregard private parking violations.

Private property owners can do more than simply prohibit future parking on their property. If the private ticket is not paid, the bill will most likely be sent to a collection agency, affecting your credit score once more.

A bigger issue is that private owners may have their vehicles towed or booted from the lot. The latter entails attaching a device to a car's wheel, preventing the vehicle from moving. Resolving either issue can be costly, which is why it's best to pay for your private tickets as soon as possible.

Several Parking Violations

Drivers who receive 10 or more parking tickets may have their licenses suspended in some states. Insurance companies are not pleased with this suspension, even if it is only temporary. If your license is suspended, you can expect your rates to skyrocket.

However, most parking tickets do not cost a driver any points on their license. License suspension is usually reserved for the most extreme cases, but this varies by state.

How to Avoid a Speeding Ticket on Your Record

There are also some ways to avoid getting a speeding ticket on your record. If this is your first offense, you may be able to avoid a ticket in some states by taking a defensive driving course. Drivers are usually only given one chance to have a ticket dismissed in this manner. Here are some additional ways to avoid receiving a speeding ticket:

  • If possible, try to obtain a deferral. You may enter a plea of guilty or the court may find you guilty. A deferral prevents the ticket from being added to your driving record for a set period of time, usually one year. If you avoid receiving any other tickets during that time period, the ticket is usually dismissed. If you do receive another ticket, both will be recorded on your record. This may result in an increase in your insurance premiums.

  • Mitigation is a possibility. If you have a clean driving record and haven't received a ticket in years, mitigation is a viable option. Mitigation necessitates a guilty plea. However, you can explain to the judge the circumstances surrounding the ticket and essentially request leniency. If the judge is sympathetic, the ticket may be dismissed. Even if the ticket is upheld, the judge may lower your fine.

  • Change your ticket from a moving violation to a non-moving violation. You could contact the clerk of the court, depending on your jurisdiction. The court clerk can usually change your ticket to a non-moving violation and allow you to pay the non-moving violation ticket cost and waive the points. The clerk of the court's contact information can be found on your ticket or on the courthouse website.

  • Hire a lawyer and go to war. In the event of a major infraction, you should consider hiring a traffic court lawyer to assist you in fighting the ticket. Yes, you will be required to pay legal fees, which are not cheap. If your attorney is able to help you avoid the ticket, it will not affect your driving record or future insurance premiums.

While you can fight your ticket with or without legal representation, if the judge rules against you, you must pay the full fine plus court costs.

Insurance companies in general will charge you only for the moving violations. Non-moving violations should not increase your rates.

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