These are the violations that have the biggest effect on future car insurance premiums. We'll break down the infractions that endanger everyone on the road and can make affordable car insurance harder to find.
(This is the first of a 3-part series explaining some of the most common serious moving violations. Part 2 features moderate violations; part 3 features the least severe.)
states and driving record points
In general, drivers charged with a moving violation get points on their driving records. And while the exact names of violations and the number of points they add is different in each state, getting too many of them results in the same thing: a suspended or revoked license.
Your driving record is a key factor in determining what you pay for car insurance, so a conviction for any of the following violations can have a lasting impact on your premium.
Excessive speeding (15+ mph over the limit)
Speed laws vary from state to state, but speeding is generally considered excessive if you drive 15-20+ mph over the limit.
The faster you drive, the harder it is to stop in order to avoid an accident. If you accelerate from 55 to 65, you'll need an extra 100 feet to stop. And the faster you go, the harder the impact if a crash occurs. This is what makes excessive speeding so dangerous. And it's why those convicted of it in some places, like Illinois, face fines up to $2,500 and one year in jail.
Speeding tickets can also send car insurance premiums soaring. Drivers who speed are taking risks on the road, and riskier drivers nearly always pay more for car insurance.
Street racing often combines reckless speed and cars without the suspension, steering, or brakes to handle it — a recipe for serious accidents. And since this reckless behavior is often on public roads, it's no wonder penalties for street racing are stiffer than those for garden-variety speeding. Depending on the state, it can be either a misdemeanor or a criminal offense and could come with a stiff fine, loss of license, and even jail time.
Drinking and driving (DUI/DWI)
Among the most serious moving violations are DUIs (driving under the influence) and DWIs (driving while intoxicated). States vary on which term they prefer, though some use both to differentiate alcohol from other substances.
Regardless of what it's called, drinking and driving is never a good idea. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drunk driving accounts for nearly one-third of all motor vehicle deaths and takes one life every 51 minutes. A first offense almost always means a license suspension, a fine, and possible jail time. Not surprisingly, repeat offenders face even harsher penalties.
And aside from the fines and legal fees, a DUI conviction can significantly raise your car insurance premium.
Driving without car insurance (in states where car insurance is mandatory)
This may not pose the immediate physical danger that the other violations on this list do, but make no mistake: driving uninsured is a major danger to your bank account.
Because lacking auto coverage can put others at risk financially, those convicted of it usually face a hefty fine and a license suspension.
State penalties vary widely. In Delaware, for example, a driver may receive a 6-month suspension if caught driving without insurance and a $1,500 fine. Pennsylvania issues a 3-month license suspension for drivers whose insurance lapsed 31 or more days ago.
A lapse in coverage can also hike up future insurance premiums. If you don't have car insurance, get a free online car insurance quote with us.
All states make it a crime to leave the scene of an accident, even if no injuries are involved.
As far as punishment goes, though, the severity of the accident is the main factor. If injuries are involved, drivers may be looking at a misdemeanor hit-and-run charge, expensive fines, loss of driving privileges, and possible jail time.
If there's a fatality, the charge may be bumped up to a felony hit-and-run, which could involve even more jail time. Keep in mind that some states, like New York, deem any hit-and-run a felony regardless of the severity.
Vehicular manslaughter/vehicular homicide
These tragic incidents are often the result of a lapse in judgment, such as drinking and driving or getting distracted by a phone call, and the consequences can be severe. Criminal and civil charges are possible in many cases.
Not surprisingly, a vehicular manslaughter or homicide conviction can also cause car insurance rates to become more expensive.
safe driving leads to big savings
A poor driving record that includes excessive speeding tickets, DUIs, or other infractions can raise car insurance premiums to levels that may be hard to manage. Safe drivers with a clean driving history, on the other hand, are often rewarded with lower premiums and more discounts over time. As you can see, safe driving just makes sense.
Part 2: moving violations of medium severity
Learn about moderate moving violations, such as texting and driving, driving on the wrong side of the road, and illegal U-turns.
Part 3: moving violations of low severity
Low-severity moving violations, like seat belt violations, rolling stops, and failure to obey an officer can still have a big impact on your car insurance rates.
More about car insurance
Looking for another insurance product?