Moving violations are something most of us are guilty of at one time or another, and tickets for those violations do affect our car insurance rates. The only question is, how much?
You may not see an immediate increase in your rates after one violation, but then again, you may see a huge jump. It all depends on the nature of the violation, the state in which you live, and the company that provides your insurance.
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The various states have different ways of categorizing the severity of moving violations. They also have differing rules regarding how licensed insurance providers in their state can deal with them in relation to insurance policy rates.
While this article will attempt to give the basic guidelines regarding how moving violations affect car insurance, you should always check with your state motor vehicle department and your insurance agent if you have any questions.
What is a moving violation?
In relation to state motor vehicle law, a moving violation is categorized as any violation of traffic law committed by a driver while the car is in operation. In other words, it must be a traffic infraction engaged in while the car is being driven on the public roadways, in parking lots, etc.
The most common moving violation in the U.S. is speeding. Other examples would include making an illegal turn, changing lanes without signaling, or traveling the wrong way on a one-way street.
State laws can sometimes be vague regarding infractions that may overlap.
For instance, a parking ticket is never a moving violation because the car is not in motion. But in some states, driving an uninspected vehicle is also not a moving violation even if the driver is pulled over by the police for doing so. In such a case, the uninspected vehicle is in violation even when the car is not in motion, thereby classifying it as a simple violation rather than a moving violation.
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Are some moving violations more serious than others?
Like every other category of law, there are several levels of severity assigned to moving violations. A moving violation can be classified as an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a felony.
Whether or not individuals are prosecuted, and how severely their car insurance will be affected, depends on the classification of the violation.
Examples of infractions include failure to signal a turn and making unsafe lane change. Speeding tickets and tickets for driving while distracted are misdemeanors in most states.
Last but not least, DWI convictions, vehicular manslaughter, and leaving the scene of an accident are usually considered felonies.
The seriousness of your violation has the most direct impact on whether or not it will immediately affect your car insurance. Felony moving violations are the worst. In most states they are sufficient reason for your insurance company to immediately place you in a high-risk driver category and charge higher rates.
In a situation where a felony moving violation is a repeat offense, your insurance company may also be legally allowed to drop you completely. Infractions and misdemeanors, on the other hand, are usually dealt with using a points system.
What is this points system?
In order to encourage car insurance companies to apply fairness in raising rates, most states have adopted a system of points which keeps track of any moving violations. Some states begin at zero and count up while other states begin at a predetermined threshold and count down.
Regardless of the system, every moving violation is assigned a point value, which is then applied to your license when you’re found guilty of a moving violation.
Infractions are generally scored at one or two points in most states; misdemeanors can be anywhere from two to seven points. The points system is divided into several thresholds, and points accumulate until a threshold is reached. At that time the insurance company is free to raise your rates accordingly.
Every time a driver reaches a new threshold it’s almost guaranteed he’ll incur a higher insurance rate because of it.
If there’s any good news in this it’s the fact that moving violations don’t count against you forever.
Most states and insurance companies “stack” violations on your record as they occur.
As time passes by the ones on the bottom of the stack are forgiven and points are reduced. The only exceptions to this rule are repeat felony offenders who may have to live with their offenses permanently.
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