Ugh. You've just gotten a speeding ticket. You know the citation will put a minor dent in your wallet now. But could the real hit come later, when your insurance company finds out and raises your rates?
Well, not necessarily. Not all tickets are equal, and depending on your driving record, forgiveness is sometimes an option.
For example, assuming this is a one-time slip and you have an otherwise long, clean driving record, a minor speeding ticket or infraction like an improper turn may not impact your premiums at all. You may not be so lucky, though, if you have a couple of tickets on your record or if you're a fairly new driver. And a major citation, like a DUI or reckless driving, will dramatically affect rates and, often, your eligibility for insurance.
Statistics show that drivers with tickets are more likely to eventually be involved in an accident than other drivers. Sometimes, a minor infraction can be a good thing – a wake-up call, telling a driver to pay more attention on the road. Taken to heart, it could thwart something more serious down the road.
How long a ticket stays on your record varies from company to company and state to state. Sometimes, if you contest a ticket in court or agree to attend traffic school, it may not appear on your record at all. Generally, insurance companies look back at least three years for any kind of moving violation, and longer for more serious offenses. States can hang on to the records indefinitely. In Washington, that's five years for most tickets and accidents and life for major tickets like DUIs or vehicular assaults. Oregon maintains several driving records for its citizens, one of which is available to insurers and tracks information beyond three years.