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moving violations and car insurance rates

FAQs on how certain violations affect your policy

Find out how different moving violations can affect your driving record and your car insurance rates. While the specifics of penalties and fines vary by state and offense, the answers to these questions can give you a better understanding of violations and your all-important driving record.

The basics

Car insurance

Common types of moving violations

Driving record

The basics

What are moving violations?

Moving violations are breaches of state traffic laws, rules, or statutes that occur while a vehicle's in motion. Examples include speeding, texting and driving, and driving under the influence (DUI).

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What are non-moving violations?

Unlike moving violations, non-moving violations are any breach of traffic laws, rules, or statutes that aren't tied to motion. Parking tickets and correctible violations, like overly tinted windows, are examples of non-moving violations.

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Car insurance

How long will a moving violation affect my car insurance premium?

If a moving violation has been cleared from your driving record, it typically won't affect your car insurance rate.

For other violations, the time frame differs from insurer to insurer. At Esurance, we ask drivers if they've had any moving violations in the past 3 years in order to help calculate rates. For DUIs, we ask drivers if they've had any in the past 10 years. License suspensions and revocations can also affect your insurance premium for a long period of time.

Another factor is experience. Responsible drivers with a longer clean-driving history may be unaffected by a minor traffic violation. On the other hand, inexperienced teen drivers may see an increase in their auto premiums after a single moving violation.

Major moving violations in the past 3 years and multiple violations in a short period can drive up car insurance premiums as well.

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Do parking violations increase car insurance rates?

Not if you're an Esurance customer and you've paid the ticket.

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Do traffic tickets in other states affect my rate?

Car insurance rates may be influenced by out-of-state tickets. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia take part in interstate programs to share this information with the driver's state of residence. Two of these programs are the Non-Resident Violator Compact (NRVC) and the Driver License Compact (DLC).

Once an out-of-state ticket appears on your Motor Vehicle Report, your state's traffic authority will determine how it affects your driving record, and your insurer will determine whether it affects your premium.

Ultimately, it depends on what you did and where you did it. We recommend checking your state's policies and your insurer's policies for more specific information.

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When I get an Esurance quote, why am I asked if I've committed any violations in the past 3 years?

Esurance asks for this information up front to provide a more accurate car insurance quote. Please note that a violation doesn't necessarily affect your premium.

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Do I have to disclose moving violations up front?

We recommend disclosing any moving violations on your driving record because it allows us to provide you with a more accurate quote.

To obtain new coverage, you'll need to certify that you told the truth to the best of your knowledge. Failing to disclose recent moving violations can lead to higher car insurance rates than what you were quoted or, worse, a denial or cancellation of car insurance coverage due to misrepresentation.

If you're already a customer, you don't need to disclose moving violations to us directly.

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Common types of moving violations

What are correctible violations?

Correctible violations (aka "fix-it tickets") are given for vehicle maintenance, vehicle modification, insurance, licensing, or registration issues.

Examples include:

  • Cracked or broken headlights or tail lights
  • Dark window tints
  • Other illegal modifications (like certain modified exhausts)
  • Inability to provide proof of insurance (when you are, in fact, insured)

In some states, like California, correctible violations typically don't appear on a driving record. Depending on the jurisdiction and violation, you may need to pay a fine, show documentation proving the issue's been resolved, and/or appear in court.

Motorists who disregard fix-it tickets may face increased fines and a possible license suspension. An unresolved violation may appear on the driver's record if it isn't paid in time.

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What is a minor moving violation?

There's no set definition of what counts as a minor moving violation since the rules are different in each state.

As a general rule, moving violations that don't carry the possibility of jail time are considered minor.

Some common examples of minor moving violations:

  • Seat belt violations
  • Improper turns
  • Disobeying traffic lights and signals
  • Speeding tickets (when the speed was not significantly higher than the posted limit)
  • Illegal U-turns

For more info on moving violations of lower severity, visit part 3 of our guide to moving violations.

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What is a major moving violation?

Major violations are serious traffic crimes that can be prosecuted through criminal courts. Each state has a unique definition of major moving violations.

DUI, DWI, hit-and-run, and vehicular manslaughter rank among the most serious major moving violations.

Learn more by reading our overview on the most dangerous moving violations.

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What are misdemeanor and felony moving violations?

The majority of moving offenses are infractions — minor traffic offenses that are kept within the jurisdiction of the traffic courts. But some traffic violations may be prosecuted in the criminal courts as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the severity of the crime.

Felonies represent the most severe crimes, while misdemeanors are between infractions and felonies. Felonies and misdemeanors, unlike infractions, can result in heavy fines, loss of driving privileges, and, in some cases, imprisonment. Each state handles these classifications differently.

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Driving record

What is a Motor Vehicle Report?

Your Motor Vehicle Report (MVR), also known as your driving record, shows your current license status plus any at-fault car accidents or moving violations you've had within a certain period.

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Do all moving violations show up on a driving record?

No. In some states, drivers who contest a ticket, attend traffic school or defensive driving classes, and/or promptly pay their fines on minor violations may never have the violation appear on their driving records. In other states, the ticket may briefly appear on the record until the terms of the ticket are met, at which point the violation is removed.

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How do moving violations appear on my driving record?

Most states track moving violations by using a point or demerit system on driving records. States using the point system assign a set number of points to each moving violation. The number of points assigned to each violation is determined by its severity, with the most dangerous (like vehicular manslaughter) contributing the most points.

After a certain number of points (commonly 10 or 12, depending on the state) the drivers license will be suspended or revoked. Though most states primarily use single-digit systems with violations rating from 1 to 10 or 12 points, some states, like Illinois, use a double-digit system, with violations rating 10, 20, or 30 points. All point systems are designed to keep the most dangerous and reckless drivers off the road.

Some states don't issue points for minor violations. So even if the violation appears on your driving record, it won't impact your total points. For example, Ohio doesn't add a point to your driving record after you're convicted of speeding less than 5 mph above the posted limit.

Even if a violation adds zero points, it can still be included in your driving record.

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How many points will a moving violation cost me?

Since each state sets its own penalties based on the severity of the offense, among other factors, it's difficult to pin down a precise list of penalties. In general, states have their own point threshold (which can be 6, 10, 12, etc.). Once that number of points is reached, a driver's license will be suspended.

For exact info on where you live, please review your state's official traffic regulatory website.

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How long does a minor or major traffic violation stay on my driving record?

Each state sets its own penalty schedule, which dictates how long violations stay on a driver's record. Technically, once a violation has been applied to your record, it may remain there in some form for a long time — even after the points have cleared. The points associated with most traffic convictions usually appear on your record for 2, 3, or 5 years depending on your state's policies.

Though a moving violation may still exist on your DMV record or in a traffic authority database, certain employment, credit, and insurance background checks only review the past 3 to 5 years — so older tickets may not show up during routine checks and may not increase your car insurance premium.

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How can I get a moving violation removed from my driving record?

This depends on the severity of the violation.

In general, the best way to keep a recent violation off your record is to respond to it as quickly as possible. For certain minor violations, a promptly paid ticket won't appear on your record in the first place. In other cases, the violation may be removed from your record after a fine is paid.

In many states, drivers (particularly first-time offenders) can keep some smaller speeding tickets (1 to 10 mph over the limit) and other minor infractions off their driving records by going to traffic school or taking a defensive driving or driver improvement course.

Major traffic violations such as drinking and driving, hit-and-run incidents, and vehicular manslaughter can affect a driver's record for a significantly longer period.

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How can I access my Motor Vehicle Report?

You can typically get a copy of your MVR from your state's DMV or traffic licensing authority for a nominal fee. Visit your state's official website to find out more.

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Related links

Speeding tickets and car insurance premiums
Learn how speeding tickets affect car insurance rates and some ways to clear your driving record.

Serious moving violations (part 1)
Get an in-depth look at the ways states determine penalties for some of the most serious driving infractions, such as DUIs.

Determining car insurance rates
Learn what your car insurer considers when setting your policy premium.