Imagine this scenario: You got up a little bit late, and you immediately enter panic mode. To save time, you go a little bit over the speed limit. Suddenly, you hear a police siren, and before you know it, you’re stuck with an ugly speeding ticket. This is a story to which many drivers can relate. But what you probably don’t realize is that once that speeding ticket goes on your driving record, you may find your monthly insurance premiums heading skyward as well.
Insurance companies don’t like speeding tickets because a speeding ticket indicates an unsafe driver. Unsafe drivers mean more accidents, and more accidents means more claims to pay out. Tickets will also make things more difficult for you if you’re looking for an auto insurance provider.
Why Insurance Companies Check Driving Records
You may find yourself asking why your driving record is even of importance. Trouble is your driving record tells insurance companies a lot about how safety-conscious you are as a driver. Insurance companies love conscientious drivers, and these drivers are rewarded with low premiums.
To understand why safe drivers receive lower premiums, you need to think in business terms. Insurance companies have to make a profit so that they can stay in business. If the insurance company keeps paying out claims, they are not making a profit, and that’s less money the company has available to pay out other claims. Therefore, the insurance company needs to charge unsafe drivers higher premiums in order to recuperate these losses and remain profitable.
However, you may get lucky if you can find the right insurance company because some insurance companies will not increase premiums for first-timers. There are also ways to prevent a ticket from even going on your record. Here are a few tips on how to do this.
Don’t Pay Right Away
Experts advise you not to pay the ticket right away. It’s basically seen as an admission of guilt, and the ticket will definitely appear on your record. Instead, you can choose to fight the ticket, and maybe you can get a more lenient punishment, depending on the circumstances. In some cases, you might even be able to have the ticket thrown out of court and avoid paying the ticket altogether!
Deferrals Might be an Option
In some jurisdictions, you can ask for a deferment. A deferment is like a plea bargain in that you are found guilty by the court, but the ticket doesn’t go on your driving record unless you get another ticket within a set period of time, usually at least 1 year. However, you need to realize that if you get another ticket within the time period, you will have both tickets on your driving record, and you may not be able to ask for another deferment for a number of years, depending on the jurisdiction.
Traffic Schools Show You’re Trying
In some states, you can ask for a defensive driving course, and the court will defer your ticket pending proof of completion of the driving course. It costs more money in the short term due to the price of courses and court fees, but in the long term, it’s a smart option because it avoids higher insurance premiums. However, this option is not available in every state or for every type of infraction, and there’s a limit to how often this option can be used, depending on the state or jurisdiction. You may have to pay court costs to use this option.
The Old “Wheel and Deal”
Sometimes you can plea bargain for a lesser charge, and the ticket will not appear on your record. Not all states allow plea bargaining, but if it’s an option in your state, you can avoid costly premium increases.
Sometimes police officers can make mistakes, and the average citizen does not know the technicalities of traffic law. Just as there are medical malpractice attorneys, there are also traffic attorneys that can help you with your ticket. Having a traffic attorney help you with your case is beneficial because not only can they advise you of your options, they can also have your ticket thrown out if an error is found.
At the very least, they might be able to have your fine decreased and/or prevent the ticket from going on your record even if the ticket is valid, especially if it has been a considerable length of time since your previous ticket.
Of course, the most successful option is never to get a ticket in the first place. However, mistakes do happen, and the courts realize that. You can use these options to potentially save yourself hundreds of dollars on auto insurance in the long term. Remember, anything that can keep that speeding ticket off your record will be a great option for you