Receiving a ticket for a traffic violation is never a pleasant experience. And it stings even more when you’re cited for an offense that occurs when you’re driving out of state. Will that out-of-state ticket impact your auto insurance rates? In most cases, the answer is yes.
Out-of-state traffic tickets can affect your insurance premiums just like in-state violations. However, the process works a bit differently for offenses that happen beyond your home state’s borders.
This guide explains everything you need to know about how out-of-state tickets can drive up your car insurance costs, including:
- How out-of-state tickets reach your driving record
- Factors that determine rate increases
- Strategies to prevent hikes after a violation
- When out-of-state tickets don’t affect insurance
- Steps to take after receiving an out-of-state citation
Gaining an understanding of how out-of-state traffic violations work can help you make smart choices behind the wheel no matter where you’re driving.
How Out-of-State Tickets Reach Your Driving Record
For an out-of-state ticket to impact your auto insurance rates, it first has to make it onto your driving record maintained by your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Out-of-state violations get reported back to your home DMV through one of two methods:
Driver License Compact (DLC): The DLC is an agreement between 45 participating states to exchange information about traffic citations. When you’re ticketed in a DLC member state, they automatically report it to your home DMV.
Non-DLC Agreements: Some non-DLC states have individual agreements to share ticket information with others. For example, Massachusetts has an agreement to report violations to motorists’ home states through its Registry of Motor Vehicles.
So in most cases, the ticket will be communicated back to your own DMV and show up on your driving record. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your auto insurance will go up.
Factors That Determine Insurance Rate Increases
Several elements influence whether an out-of-state traffic ticket leads to higher car insurance premiums:
State Laws on Driving Records: Some states don’t include minor out-of-state violations on motorists’ driving histories. For example, Pennsylvania and Colorado both exclude non-home speeding tickets from people’s records. So the citation might not impact your rates if you live in one of these states.
Insurer Guidelines: Car insurance companies set their own criteria for how different types of violations affect premiums. A speeding ticket could lead to a rate hike with one insurer but not with another.
Offense Severity: Insurance rate increases are normally greater for major violations like reckless driving, DUI, and excessive speeding compared to minor speeding tickets.
Your Previous Record: Drivers with clean histories prior to the ticket often see smaller effects on their premiums. But if you already had recent citations, another one could compound the impact.
Discount Eligibility: An out-of-state violation can make you ineligible for good driver or other discounts that were lowering your insurance rate. This discount removal can drive up your premium.
To find out for sure if an out-of-state ticket will increase your car insurance costs, contact your insurer about how they handle such violations. Don’t wait until your policy renewal.
Strategies to Prevent Rate Hikes After Out-of-State Tickets
It’s best to avoid out-of-state traffic tickets altogether. But if you do receive a citation, there are a few strategies to potentially prevent or reduce the impact on your auto insurance premium:
Fight the ticket: If you believe the out-of-state ticket was issued wrongly or unfairly, consult a local traffic ticket attorney about fighting it. Getting it dismissed prevents it from reaching your DMV record and affecting insurance.
Request traffic school: Some states offer the option to attend traffic school to keep the offense off your driving record. This may prevent car insurance hikes.
Compare insurers: Even after a violation, some auto insurers may still offer you lower rates than your current provider. Shop around before renewal to see if you can find cheaper coverage despite the ticket.
Increase deductibles: Raising your deductibles lowers rates and can help offset ticket-related increases. Just be sure you have savings to cover the higher deductibles if you file a claim.
Improve your driving: Going a longer period with no further violations can help stabilize your premiums over time.
When Out-of-State Tickets Don’t Affect Insurance Rates
There are a few scenarios where an out-of-state driving infraction might not impact your car insurance premiums:
Non-moving violations – Offenses like parking tickets or equipment violations don’t count as moving violations. They generally don’t trigger rate increases with insurers.
States don’t share data – Hawaii, Michigan, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Georgia are not DLC members and have no agreements to share ticket data with other states. Citations there likely won’t reach your home DMV record.
Violations not added to driving record – As mentioned above, some states exclude minor out-of-state tickets from appearing on motorists’ driving histories, preventing insurance effects.
Dismissed tickets – If you successfully fight an out-of-state citation and get it dismissed, it won’t be reported to your DMV or impact your insurance.
Traffic school – Completing traffic school for an out-of-state infraction may prevent it from hitting your driving record, depending on the state.
Unless one of the above situations applies, assume an out-of-state ticket could potentially affect your insurance rates. Check with both the state that issued the citation and your own DMV to find out for certain.
What to Do If You Receive an Out-of-State Ticket
If you receive a ticket while driving beyond your home state, take the following steps:
Remain polite and cooperate – Don’t argue with the officer. Cooperating and being polite gives you the best chance of leniency.
Note ticket details – Ensure you collect the ticket citation number, exact violation statute, date, location, and officer badge number. Also note the radar gun’s recorded speed if you were pulled over for speeding.
Research ticket consequences – Find out how the state that gave you the ticket handles violations on out-of-state drivers’ records. Do they report back to your home DMV?
Contact your own DMV – Check in with your own state’s DMV to ask how they handle out-of-state driving infractions. Do they add them to your driving history?
Speak to your insurer – Touch base with your car insurance company to see if they have special procedures for handling rate impacts from out-of-state tickets.
Pay or fight the ticket – Determine whether to pay the ticket or consult a local attorney to contest it in that state. Fighting the citation gives you the best chance of avoiding insurance effects.
Consider traffic school – If allowed, attend traffic school to potentially keep the offense off your permanent driving record.
Acting quickly after an out-of-state citation can help minimize any negative consequences.
Out-of-State Tickets and Your Insurance: The Bottom Line
It’s possible for traffic violations received outside your home state to drive up your car insurance rates. Out-of-state tickets get reported back through national data-sharing agreements and individual state pacts. Once on your driving history, insurers can access the citation data and may increase your premiums as a result.
To avoid surprises at renewal time, talk with both the agency that issued the ticket and your own DMV to learn how the offense will be handled. Also connect with your insurer to see if they have special procedures for these types of violations.
Your best bet is trying to fight an unjust out-of-state ticket or attending traffic school. This minimizes the chance of it reaching your permanent driving record and hiking your insurance rates. Careful driving at home in the months following an out-of-state citation can also help offset any potential premium increase by keeping your record clean.
Frequently Asked Questions About Out-of-State Tickets and Insurance
Do all states share ticket information?
No, five states – Hawaii, Michigan, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Georgia – are not members of the Driver License Compact and have no agreements to exchange violation data with other states. Citations in these places likely won’t reach your home DMV record.
Can I attend traffic school for an out-of-state ticket?
Some states allow drivers to complete traffic school for offenses like speeding tickets, which may prevent them from being added to your permanent driving record. Rules vary, so contact the agency that issued the ticket to see if you’re eligible and learn the process.
Do I have to pay an out-of-state speeding ticket?
Legally, you are obligated to pay traffic fines received in other states just like in
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