Driving

The most common traffic tickets in the U.S.

And how much they will cost you

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There are over 230 million licensed drivers in the U.S. And unsurprisingly, not all of them follow the letter of the law at all times when out on the road. Here are some of the more common traffic tickets and the consequences you may face if you commit them.

Speeding

Who doesn’t want to get where they’re going faster? A lot of people, as it turns out. In fact, speeding is one of the most common moving violations with 41 million drivers receiving speeding tickets each year amounting to a total amount paid of around $6 billion. The amount of the ticket depends on how many miles over the speed limit the person was traveling, in what state and if the area was a construction or school zone. 

Unfortunately, while speeding can seem harmless, it can be very dangerous. The National Highway Safety Administration found that in 2020, speed was a factor in 29% of traffic fatalities and was responsible for killing more than 11,000 Americans that year.

How much will a speeding ticket cost you?

  • Ticket cost: $25 - $1,000 (check estimates in your state for different infractions here)
  • Points on your license: 1 - 75 (check for your state’s system here). These stay on your license for an average of 3 - 11 years.
  • Insurance increase: 22% on average, but will vary based on state and level of infraction.  

Texting while driving

We've all been there. You're driving along, minding your own business, when you see a car in front of you swerving all over the road. You shake your head and think to yourself, "Don't they know it's dangerous to text and drive?" Well, apparently not everyone gets the memo. According to a recent study, texting while driving is becoming more and more common, especially among young adults. And it's no wonder — with our ever-growing dependency on technology, it's hard to resist the urge to check our phones every few minutes. 

But even if you're just glancing at your phone for a second or two, that's enough time to cause an accident. In fact, texting while driving is now one of the leading causes of distracted driving accidents. According to the NHTSA, distracted driving was responsible for over 3,000 deaths in 2020.

How much will a cell phone violation cost you?

  • Ticket cost: $20 - $250 (check estimates in your state here)
  • Points on your license: 1 - 10. Not all states will add points for this offense, but make sure to check your state’s laws.
  • Insurance increase: 21% on average, but will vary based on state and level of infraction. 

Running a red light or disobeying a sign

The numbers of tickets for running a red light or stop sign have gone up dramatically in recent years because of the increased use of red light cameras. For example, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported in one year that 50,000 people were pulled over and received tickets for running a red light. But nearly six times that number — almost 300,000 — received tickets in the mail after being caught by a red light camera.

Every year in the U.S. about 20% of car accidents are caused by drivers running red lights or ignoring posted signs. This leads to the deaths of 800 Americans and causes around $7 billion in property damage.

How much will a ticket for running a light cost you?

Driving under the influence

According to the NHTSA, every day in the United States 32 people die in drunk-driving crashes. That’s about one every 45 minutes. And these numbers appear to be on the rise. A person’s alcohol level is measured by their blood alcohol concentration or BAC which varies based on the person’s size and how much they have consumed. A BAC of .08 grams is the legal limit in 49 states and the District of Columbia. In the last state, Utah, the BAC legal limit is .05. However, even if you haven’t reached that limit, driving after consuming any amount can affect your ability to drive safely. In 2020, 2,000 people were killed in alcohol-related accidents in which the driver was under the legal limit. When in doubt, it’s always better to call an Uber or hitch a ride with a friend.

How much will drinking and driving cost you?

  • Ticket cost: $300 - $2,100 (Details by state here.) 
  • Court fees and legal costs: Averages $230
  • Alcohol education program (should your state require it): Averages $235
  • Interlock ignition device (should your state require it): Averages $748
  • Insurance increase: 62% on average, but will vary based on state and level of infraction. 

Resources

Obviously, the best way to avoid the consequences of these common traffic violations is to not commit them. However, they’re common for a reason, and people often make mistakes. If you are guilty of any of the above, there are solutions to mitigate the rising insurance cost at least.

Car insurance with speeding tickets or violations 

Cheap car insurance after a DUI

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Susan MeyerSenior Editorial Manager

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebra a year. She currently specializes in producing research-focused content for The Zebra's Resource Center on topics related to auto and home insurance, personal finance and smarter living in the 21st century.

Susan's work has been cited by the Insurance Information Institute, State Farm, BuzzfeedCBS, Yahoo, Entrepreneur and Business Insider.