Last updated: June 2023
First heartbreak. First job interview. First speeding ticket. There's a first time for everything. Sometimes we know how to handle these firsts, and sometimes we don't. But no matter if it's your first moving violation ever or your first one in a while, Direct Auto will go over the key things you need to know about speeding tickets.
Speeding tickets are common.
You're not alone. Speeding violations are the most common traffic violation, according to Encyclopedia.com. However, even though they're often considered a traffic infraction, they can still come with costly consequences.
What happens when you get a speeding ticket?
When you get pulled over for speeding, the officer will typically take your license, registration, and proof of insurance back to his or her vehicle and return with your ticket. Be respectful and calm. Never try to argue with the officer or persuade him or her not to ticket you.
The officer will ask you to sign a paper copy of the ticket. Signing it doesn't mean you agree with the ticket. It is merely an acknowledgment that you were pulled over and received it. Once you sign the ticket, the officer will hand you a paper copy. The copy will have several important pieces of information on it, like:
- Your contact and personal information
- Your vehicle information
- The location of your offense
- The police officer's name
- The posted speed limit
- The speed you were going when the officer pulled you over
- A preliminary court date for the offense.
The officer will most likely tell you how to handle the ticket. Otherwise, there will be clear instructions written on your copy. Read them carefully.
How much are speeding tickets?
The average cost of a speeding ticket in the United States is $150 according to ESCORT Radar. However, this number can vary dramatically depending on where you live and your specific circumstances. Every state has its own minimum and maximum fines. Also, drivers often face higher fines the faster they were driving over the speed limit.
So, for example, if you are caught driving 5 miles per hour (MPH) over the speed limit, you will typically pay less than someone who is caught driving 20 MPH too fast. Depending on your circumstances, you could also have court costs and might wish to hire a lawyer, which will increase the cost of your moving violation.
Do speeding tickets affect insurance?
In many cases, your premium may increase at renewal time, but by how much? Well, the national average rate increase following a speeding ticket is roughly 24%, according to Forbes. This could translate to hundreds of dollars per year at renewal time or when you purchase a new policy.
However, a rate increase is not guaranteed depending on your situation and driving history.
Does a first-time speeding ticket affect insurance?
If you've never received a speeding ticket previously, you may not see a rate increase at all after your first moving violation. A history of safe driving could help you out. Additionally, you might be able to follow the suggestions below to clean up your driving record and prevent your rates from increasing.
How to Get a Speeding Ticket Off Your Record
Because speeding tickets can negatively affect your finances, you might be wondering how you can clean up your driving record.
The first way, and something you should always make priority, is safe driving. In most states, moving violations fall off your record after a few years. So, if you avoid any other violations or accidents during that time, you should expect to see your rates come back down.
One other option (or potential court-ordered requirement) that can help you out is traffic school. Some judges require drivers to successfully complete a defensive driving course after a moving violation (like speeding). Sometimes, completing an approved traffic school course can even get your fines reduced or dismissed and help keep your insurance rates low by keeping your driving record clean.
Do you have to go to court for a speeding ticket?
It depends. Speeding is often considered a more minor offense (like if you're driving 5 miles per hour over the limit) that is only punishable by a fine. However, if your speeding ticket is connected to a criminal charge, like a DUI, you might be forced to attend a court date.
If your ticket has a mandatory court date, you must show up. If it doesn't, you can simply pay the ticket fine online, by mail, or in person any time before its due date. Refer to the specific instructions on your ticket. In most states, you have 30 to 90 days to pay.
Why pay the ticket without fighting it? Fighting a ticket in court can be time-consuming, expensive, and confusing. If you are not confident in your chances of getting the ticket dismissed, you may wish to save yourself the hassle. Additionally, if you get the ticket while traveling and decide to fight it, you must resolve it in the county where it was issued. So, it might not be worth the time or money it takes to travel to where you received the ticket.
How to Fight a Speeding Ticket
If you choose to attend your scheduled court appearance, you will have the opportunity to argue your case before a judge. A prosecutor will likewise need to prove you were speeding to enforce the ticket. Once both sides present their case, the judge will render a decision on your speeding violation. If you'd like help getting out of your ticket in court but feel overwhelmed, consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney to help you.
Why fight the ticket in court? If you're facing the potential for points on your driver's license, a significant increase in your car insurance rates, or other serious consequences, it may be worth the time and effort to contest the ticket in court. However, before you spend the money doing so, consider the likelihood of winning your case and consider consulting a traffic attorney with experience handling your specific set of circumstances.
What happens if you don't pay a speeding ticket?
It might be tempting to throw your ticket on the kitchen table and hope it goes away on its own. But it won't. If you wait too long to handle your ticket, the consequences could get more serious.
Ignore a speeding ticket, and you might face:
- Additional points on your license
- An increase of your fines
- A suspended license
- Community service
Please note, laws vary depending on where you live. In addition to these potential penalties, insurers might begin classifying you as a high-risk driver if your license is suspended. This could lead to higher insurance rates in the future and potentially force you to fulfill SR-22 or FR-44 requirements.
How to Lower Insurance After a Speeding Ticket
We've discussed safe driving and traffic school, but there are other ways to get low car insurance rates, even after a moving violation. Here are some additional things you can try.
- Figure out the auto coverage you actually need.
- Consider consolidating or bundling multiple policies if possible.
- Drive an inexpensive vehicle with great safety features.
- Shop around and compare quotes.
- Check for any discounts.
- Adjust how you make your insurance payments.
- Maintain continuous coverage.
How to Avoid a Speeding Ticket
Speeding tickets are 100% preventable! Work to avoid a speeding ticket in the future by:
- Slowing down
- Paying attention to posted speed limits
- Avoiding distracted driving
- Practicing safe and defensive driving
- Monitoring your speedometer
- Passing other drivers with care
Additional Speeding FAQs
Still have some questions related to speeding? Here are a few additional questions and answers.
How do speed guns work?
Radar guns are used to almost instantly measure the speed of a vehicle on the road. When aimed at a moving object, a radar gun (also called a “speed gun”) emits radio waves that bounce off of cars and detect their speed. Depending on the frequency of the radio waves, the radar gun can determine how fast a car is traveling, according to Neltronics.
According to HowStuffWorks, “a laser speed gun measures the round-trip time for light to reach a car and reflect back.” This time is then used to accurately calculate the speed of a moving vehicle.
How dangerous is speeding?
Speeding was a contributing factor in 12,330 traffic fatalities in 2021 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That number represents 29% of all traffic fatalities.
How does speeding affect braking distance?
Doubling your car's speed actually quadruples the vehicle's braking distance, according to Aceable. This makes it important to avoid speeding and maintain a safe following distance.
At Direct Auto Insurance, we welcome all drivers to apply for coverage, including those who have received speeding tickets. Call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732), click to get a quote online, or come into a Direct Auto location near you today to learn more.