How Much Will a Ticket Raise Your Insurance Rates? It Depends!

Not too long ago I was speaking with someone who told me she got pulled over by a cop on her way to work.

Of course, I offered up the obligatory sympathy. “Bummer,” I said. “What did he write you up for?”

“Oh, I didn’t get a ticket,” she said matter-of-factly. “He clocked me doing 57 in a 45 zone, but he let me off with a warning.”

I couldn’t believe it. “He let you off with just a warning?”

“I know, huh?” she said, practically giddy at reliving the moment.

Unbelievable. I’ve been pulled over for a moving violation four times in my life, twice for speeding and twice for making an illegal left turn. I’ve also been stopped for a fix-it ticket or two — but I’ve never had the good fortune to have been let off the hook. Not even once.

The last time I was stopped I even presented the cop with an old Monopoly “Get Out of Jail Free” card that I used to carry in my wallet for laughs. He wasn’t impressed.

Anyway, being a glutton for punishment, I decided to press the issue. “So, Jenna, how many times have you gotten away with a warning?”


I didn’t know what to say. Then again, I really didn’t have time to say anything because, before I could begin gnashing my teeth, Jenna corrected herself.

“No, wait! Four!”

I know.

It turns out Jenna’s primary tactic for avoiding a ticket is crying. By her own admission, crying doesn’t always work. But the fact that she was able to weasel her way out of three — no, wait; four! — tickets surely saved her hundreds of dollars in fines. Not to mention increases in her auto insurance premiums — especially if she drives an expensive luxury car she can’t afford.

According to, insurance premium increases depend on the type of infraction you are written-up for. Which ones are responsible for raising your insurance rates the highest? Here are the top 10, along with their average rate increase:

1. Reckless driving (rate increase: 22%)
2. DUI first offense (19%)
3. Driving without a license or permit (18%)
4. Careless driving (16%)
5. Speeding 30 mph over the limit (15%)
6. Failure to stop (15%)
7. Improper turn (14%)
8. Improper passing (14%)
9. Following too close/tailgating (13%)
10. Speeding 15 to 29 mph over limit (12%)

For those who are interested, also has an interactive “Uh-Oh!” calculator to help you anticipate potential insurance rate increases the next time you end up getting pulled over by the highway patrol.

Well, assuming you aren’t able to cry yourself out of the ticket.

Photo Credit: Dave Hosford


  1. 1

    nansuelee says

    Interesting post. I have gotten one warning for speeding, our daughter was in her car seat and I had my license out before the officer got to the car, so I assumed he felt I was doing everything else right and did not ticket me. The time I did get a speeding ticket I looked a my speedometer, pulled over and took it in the shorts because I deserved it.
    I find it interesting that your rates go up more for reckless driving than for a DUI. Is this because the companies assume in the case of DUI you did not really know what you were doing and for reckless driving you knew what your were doing and did in on purpose?

    • 2

      Len Penzo says

      I’m not too surprised about reckless driving being more punitive to your rates, nansuelee, for the reason you mentioned.

      I am surprised that an improper turn has a bigger impact than driving 29 mph over the speed limit. Really? So if I’m driving 54 in a 25 zone, that is less of a hazard than making an illegal left turn?

      • 3

        Kyle says

        I have to say, making an illegal left turn is more of a hazard than speeding 29mph over. I had a guy turn in front of me and I hit him; insurance, police, etc, found it to be his fault because it was an illegal left turn. The car was totaled. However, driving fast doesn’t always mean it’s unsafe…

  2. 4

    Dave M says

    My wife and I have both been pulled over several times. Every time I got the ticket, but she got a ticket only once. I think male cops tend to give women a break. Just my unscientific observation.

  3. 6


    The early-twenties daughter of a friend of mine was explaining how she got off with just a warning for speeding.

    My son’s response? “Well duh! You have boobs!”

  4. 8


    I admit that I’ve managed to just get a warning on two occasions. One time when I was only about 18 I was particularly lucky because I would’ve got a big excessive speeding ticket that would’ve been at least a few hundred dollars. Fortunately it was a female officer in a small town and she didn’t have the heart to give us the big ticket. On another occasion, the cop threatened to give a reckless driving ticket which also would’ve been expensive, but I think he just didn’t want to do the paperwork and have me potentially dispute it. It is a hassle how you get dinged twice for tickets.

  5. 10

    Againstthegrain says

    I’m 50 yoa, and have been licensed to drive since I was 19 (but only regularly driving with my own car since age 23). I had two very minor collision accidents when I was a fairly new driver (& they were valuable experiences that made me a better driver), but I’ve never been pulled over – for any reason, even when I deserved it – until last month, on a busy So Cal freeway stretch during a month of publicized law enforcement crackdowns on distracted driving.

    But I was in the passenger seat at the time (ride sharing from one end of So Cal to another through fast-flowing but heavy traffic), so being stopped for the first time was a pretty painless experience for me.

    The driver did get a ticket (81 mph in a 65 zone), and she definitely deserved it, IMO (though I kept my mouth shut). If the CHP officer had only seen her earlier while she was speeding while on the phone while eating her breakfast … I know. I’m going to insist on driving my car next time we ride share.

    • 11

      Len Penzo says

      What freeway were you on? The cops write-up a lot of people in the 91 express lanes — although I am not sure if it is more for speeding or trying to save on their tolls by sneaking through the 3+ passengers lane.

      I regularly see the ladies putting their make-up on while driving. I’ve also seen people reading while driving (yes, it’s true). Texting I think is still the worst infraction of the bunch — more so than talking on cell phone … even while eating breakfast. 😉

  6. 12

    Sandy E. says

    Never cried, was smiling and happy, and got a warning. When my daughter was 14 we were driving down South to go shopping at Abercrombie for her, and apparently speeding. We were singing loudly to the radio and enjoying ourselves when I saw a police car behind me w/lights flashing. I pulled over. When I rolled down the window, I told him: “we were having a good ‘ol time until you showed up,” and explained about our mother/daughter shopping day. After he looked at my license he said he would give me a warning. I thanked him and before he left I said: “Where did you come from – I never even saw you.” He said, “mam – that’s the point – you’re not supposed to see us – and have a good day with your daughter.” Whew – I was very lucky. (I like your get out of jail card – too bad it didn’t work).

    • 13

      Len Penzo says

      Great story, Sandy! I don’t think I would have pushed the cop by asking him where he was hiding. I would have rolled up the window and got the heck out of there as quick as possible!

      I don’t carry the Get Out of Jail Free card anymore. I should probably get me a new one though. They’re a great way to bring a smile to someone’s face in all kinds of awkward situations!

  7. 14

    Todd says

    I was ticketed earlier this year for doing 51 in a 40 zone. The officer didn’t even give me a chance to come up with an excuse: he took my license, and gave me a ticket. Done.

    Of course, I went to court and got it thrown out. For CA drivers, I found to be a great (free) resource.

  8. 15


    Well, if you do end up getting a ticket again your premium with your existing company will probably increase like you mentioned. However, other insurance companies are pretty eager to earn business and steal clients away from their competitors, so you can often negotiate for minor violation forgiveness.

  9. 16

    James says

    Girls have it too easy some times! My female friends always tell me about how they get out of tickets… it’s almost as if they are bragging!
    Anyways, you can get these violations removed from your record after a certain amount of time anyways.

  10. 17


    I managed to get off with just a warning once. I didn’t cry but I was really polite and I was already in front of my house. The cop said “Just park the car and go home!” Other than that, I had to pay every time. Maybe I should start crying.

    Anyways, this is great info that perhaps will make us think twice about getting a ticket.

  11. 18


    I’ve been pulled over once. It was in the small town my parents lived in and once the cop realized who’s daughter I was he didn’t write up the ticket! My Dad’s a plumber and apparently the night before they had a pipe leak all over the cop’s kitchen. Dad saved the day for them and for me!

  12. 19

    Kelly T says

    Getting ticketed is a real let down for all the reasons you mentioned here. However it never fails to amaze me how many of my clients will call and want to know if there’s anything we can do about it.

    I tell them “We’re an Agency” and not involved with the courts. I can’t blame them for trying though. Typically when you have a driving infraction that causes your rates to go up. They don’t forgive for a while.

    If you do find yourself in a situation where you’ve been pulled over. My best advice is to be as polite and helpful to the officer that’s got you stopped. A little bit of love can go a long way.

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