Traffic tickets are a part of life. Almost every driver who has been driving for more than a few years has gotten at least one traffic citation, and unfortunately there is a small segment of the population that receives enough traffic citations for them to be deemed high-risk by their auto insurers. Being put in a high-risk pool means paying significantly higher auto insurance rates. Fortunately, police officers in many jurisdictions will give violators a warning rather than an actual ticket for their first and possibly their second minor traffic offense.
Traffic Citation Warnings
Just two or three decades ago, a traffic citation warning was just a warning, and receiving one had no impact on your your driving record or your auto insurance rates. Most jurisdictions did not even keep records of warnings for more than a year, if at all. In today's world of databases and electronic records, though, in some states and counties a traffic citation warning is noted on your driving record, and, as a result, can be used by insurance companies in determining the cost of your auto insurance.
State and Local Jurisdiction Policies
There is a great deal of variability in the policies regarding traffic citation warnings among state and local jurisdictions. Some states have policies that require noting warnings on your record, wherein a specific number of warnings leads to consequences like points or fines. In other states that do not have this requirement, local jurisdictions may have policies regarding recording traffic offense warnings. It is hard to know about local and state policies everywhere you drive, and even if your home jurisdiction does not record warnings, a warning you got while driving in a neighboring county might be reported to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, and therefore end up on your driving record.
Significance of Warnings
The issue of the significance of warnings on auto insurance rates is further muddied because there are no consistent policies among the many different insurance companies regarding how they treat warnings. Many do not even mention whether they take them into account, much less provide thresholds for when warnings will lead to a rate increase, as some companies provide for regular traffic citations. For example, a threshold with a particular insurance company might be that your rates will increase if you get two or more moving violations in a year.
Finding Out the Facts
Because of all the possible variables, including different policies in different police jurisdictions and different policies among the different insurance companies, you must contact local and state authorities and your own insurance agent to get specific facts about how warnings might affect your insurance. Contact your local police department the Department of Motor Vehicles or equivalent in your state to find out if either makes record of warnings, and ask your insurance agent or company what their specific policies are regarding traffic warnings.
Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.