Study: A single driving violation can increase your insurance rate up to 70%

Traffic tickets could double your insurance rate and ruin your budget, according to new research.

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

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 Zebr…

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Beth Swanson

SEO Content Strategist

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Beth joined The Zebra in 2022 as an Associate Content Strategist. She is a licensed insurance agent whose goal is to make insurance content easy to r…

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Even small mistakes can lead to big rate hikes

In 2021, more people were back on the road, and it appears more people were behaving badly. This trend is continuing into 2022 — and as seen in a new study by The Zebra — it’s having a big effect on their car insurance rates.

The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 42,915 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2021.[1] That was a 10.5% increase from 2020 — the highest jump they’ve ever recorded. This makes sense given there was also a significant increase in miles driven during 2021, as much of the country was shut down then. In 2022, the trend continues. For example, in March of 2022, the estimated number of motor vehicle deaths was up 3% compared to 2021 (and up 25% from 2020).[2]

What’s causing these numbers to rise? Behavioral research by the NHTSA shows that speeding and traveling without a seatbelt both remain higher than before the pandemic.[3] They believe people relaxed habits during the lower-traffic periods of lockdown, and have continued these reckless driving habits even as traffic has picked back up. Speeding is a factor in approximately a third of all traffic-related fatalities.

Beyond the obvious issues of making the roadways more unsafe for themselves and other drivers, traffic violations will also cause your insurance rates to rise. Insurance companies take all driving violations into account when calculating the cost of policies every year. If someone happens to be ticketed for a driving violation, they could see their car insurance costs rise from anywhere between 2% to a whopping 70% ($31-$1,077) on average. Plus, driving violations typically stay on a person’s driving record for at least three years, which means they’ll be paying the rate hike for a while. 

The amount drivers pay for breaking traffic laws depends on the violation and which state they live in. A new rate study by The Zebra reveals the impact driving violations have on car insurance and what steps drivers can take to reduce that impact.

Key findings

  • High-risk violations can more than double car insurance rates
  • Lower-risk violations are increasing the amount they raise rates
  • The most expensive driving violations vary by state
  • Drivers with violations can lower their rates by staying safe

High-risk violations can more than double car insurance rates

Four violations can raise your premiums by more than 60% from a single ticket. Naturally, these include violations related to high-risk driving behavior including racing, driving while intoxicated and refusal to submit to a chemical test. 

However, the traffic violation with the single most significant impact on car insurance rates is a hit-and-run. Drivers charged with this can expect to pay an average of 70% (or $1,077) more per year for car insurance.


The inherent risk and potential for insurable losses seems obvious when it comes to high-risk driving behaviors. But insurance penalties for traffic violations don’t always align with what drivers may assume is the more dangerous driving behavior. For example, getting a ticket for driving too slowly can raise rates the same amount as getting a ticket for texting and driving. An insurance hike isn’t the only price drivers pay for a driving violation. They may also have to pay a fine and court costs.

The chart below shows the national average rate increase after 28 common violations.

Accident/Violation Cost $ Increase % Increase
Leaving scene of an accident (hit and run) $2,606 $1,077 70%
Racing $2,530 $1,001 65%
DUI $2,475 $946 62%
Refusal to submit to a chemical test $2,456 $927 61%
Reckless driving $2,417 $888 58%
Driving with a suspended license $2,415 $886 58%
At-fault accident greater than $2000 $2,194 $665 43%
At-fault accident $1000-$2000 $2,156 $627 41%
Open container $2,059 $530 35%
Operating a vehicle without permission $1,938 $409 27%
Passing school bus $1,937 $408 27%
At-fault accident less than $1000 $1,921 $392 26%
Improper passing $1,879 $350 23%
Following too closely $1,873 $344 23%
Speeding $1,869 $340 22%
Wrong way wrong lane $1,865 $336 22%
Illegal turn $1,855 $326 21%
Failure to yield $1,855 $326 21%
Failure to stop at a red light $1,854 $325 21%
Texting while driving $1,851 $322 21%
Cell phone violation $1,849 $320 21%
Driving too slowly $1,841 $312 20%
Driving with expired registration $1,805 $276 18%
Failure to show documents $1,735 $206 13%
Child safety restraint $1,709 $180 12%
Driving without lights $1,708 $179 5%
Seat belt $1,690 $161 11%
Not-at-fault accidents $1,569 $40 3%

Drivers may also see insurance penalties for getting into accidents and filing claims for the damage. Who was at fault, the size of the claim and the terms of the driver’s insurance policy can all impact how much a claim raises rates.

Claim Cost $ Increase % Increase
Two comp claims $1,646 $117 8%
Two Med-PIP claims $1,560 $31 2%
One comp claim $1,570 $41 3%

What are comp and Med-PIP claims?

As seen in the chart, claims can raise your insurance even if you're not at fault. Here's a quick rundown of what the different claims in the chart are.

Comp claim: A comprehensive claim is designed to cover damage outside the driver’s control (theft, vandalism, weather damage, etc.)

Med-PIP claim: Medical pay and personal injury protection are claims that cover damages to you or your passengers (both medical and things like lost wages) when injured in a crash.


Lower-risk violations are increasing the amount they raise rates

While the higher-risk violations are the ones that will really cause rates to skyrocket, the amount they will increase your insurance premiums actually decreased slightly from previous years. In our 2021 violations report, a hit-and-run increased rates an average of 73%, while this year it’s 70%. Similarly, DUI increased rates by an average of 62% this year, compared to 65% the previous year.

We found the reverse to be true for smaller offenses, which are on the upward trajectory for how much they impact rates. For example, driving with children not in a proper safety restraint is a violation that caused a 4-5% increase in rates in the last few years, but this year that increase leaped up to 12%. Other smaller offenses that saw a big increase this year include: driving without lights, driving without a seatbelt, and driving with expired registration. 



 Low-risk violations over the last 5 years

In some cases, this could reflect the changing laws, as all states now have laws around cell phone usage and texting while driving. Auto insurance premiums will increase due to these violations in every state, while in previous years this wasn’t the case.

The most expensive driving violations vary by state

Getting a ticket for a driving violation can raise someone’s car insurance rate, but the costs vary depending on which state they live in. 

For example, a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt in California can raise rates by 29% ($520), while the same ticket in Maine won’t raise rates at all. 

The table below shows the most expensive violation(s) in each state and their average rate increases. You’ll note that hit-and-runs are the most expensive violation in 31 states, far more than any other violation.

Most expensive violation(s) per state
State Most expensive violation Average $ increase Average % increase
Alabama Hit and run $888 64%
Alaska Hit and run $826 63%
Arizona Hit and run $1,065 74%
Arkansas Racing $969 55%
California Driving with a suspended license $2,975 165%
Colorado Hit and run $901 54%
Connecticut Hit and run $1,375 89%
District of Columbia Hit and run $1,224 84%
Delaware Hit and run $1,403 83%
Florida Hit and run $1,025 41%
Georgia Hit and run $1,408 89%
Hawaii Hit and run $1,737 155%
Idaho Driving with a suspended license $741 55%
Illinois Driving with a suspended license $796 57%
Indiana Driving with a suspended license $762 61%
Iowa Hit and run $797 65%
Kansas Hit and run $848 52%
Kentucky Hit and run $1,251 68%
Louisiana Open container $1,276 54%
Maine Hit and run $584 56%
Maryland Hit and run $914 68%
Massachusetts Driving with a suspended license $1,200 90%
Michigan Hit and run & reckless driving $3,490 136%
Minnesota Hit and run $1,144 87%
Mississippi Hit and run $1,211 75%
Missouri At-fault accident $915 53%
Montana Racing & hit and run $877 60%
Nebraska Reckless driving $771 49%
Nevada Driving with a suspended license $1,207 65%
New Hampshire Hit and run $643 64%
New Jersey Driving with a suspended license $1,053 64%
New Mexico Hit and run $1,002 74%
New York Hit and run $1,170 74%
North Carolina Racing $3,963 375%
North Dakota Driving with a suspended license $623 47%
Ohio Hit and run $585 57%
Oklahoma Hit and run $913 57%
Oregon Hit and run $784 59%
Pennsylvania Hit and run $862 69%
Rhode Island Hit and run $1,953 94%
South Carolina Hit and run $804 52%
South Dakota Hit and run $1,148 73%
Tennessee Driving with a suspended license $868 69%
Texas Reckless driving $871 55%
Utah Racing $861 61%
Vermont Hit and run $1,002 87%
Virginia Driving with a suspended license $722 66%
Washington Hit and run $750 59%
West Virginia Driving with a suspended license $861 58%
Wisconsin Driving with a suspended license $740 62%
Wyoming Hit and run $1,104 71%

Drivers with violations can lower their rates by staying safe

If a driver has been stopped or ticketed by police for a driving violation, the best thing they can do to keep insurance rates low is not to offend again. But, that might be easier said than done. The Stanford Open Policing Project has collected over 200 million traffic stop records and search data from across the country. They’ve found that police officers generally stop Black drivers at higher rates than white drivers and stop Hispanic drivers at similar or lower rates than white drivers.[4] Of course, whether a driver is stopped or ticketed isn’t their own choice — it’s up to the officer. 

With that in mind, drivers can do a few things to lower the cost of car insurance in both the short and long terms, even with a violation on their record. 

  • Ask their insurance company about discounts. Drivers could be eligible for several discounts for car features, school or employer affiliations, policy add-ons, customer loyalty, policy bundling, being a good student and more. Insurance companies should be able to tell drivers what they qualify for.
  • Shop around. Insurance companies compete for customers using rates. If a person’s policy is too expensive, another company might be able to get them a lower price because they may use a different formula to calculate rates than the current provider. People should also consider pay-by-mile insurance policies to save money if they aren’t frequent drivers. 
  • Take a defensive driving course. If a driver knows they take too many risks on the road, a defensive driving course may help them learn better driving behaviors and keep them safer in the long run. Plus, some insurance companies offer discounts for drivers who take these courses. Defensive driving courses don’t have to be a hit to someone’s budget. In Texas, drivers can find courses for just $25. Compared to the average $858 rate increase in the state for a reckless driving ticket, the course seems like a no-brainer.

It’s important drivers do what they can to keep themselves and others safe and avoid big rate hikes. Traffic tickets aren’t “just tickets.” Well beyond the long-term cost of violations, unsafe driving behaviors really do put drivers and others at risk — that’s why insurance companies penalize them.


Between September 2021 and January 2022, The Zebra conducted a comprehensive auto insurance pricing analysis, comprising data from insurance rating platforms and public rate filings. The Zebra examined more than 83 million rates to explore pricing trends from 2011 to 2022 across 34,000 U.S. ZIP codes and Washington, D.C. Rates reflect a consistent base profile for the insured driver: a 30-year-old single male driver with a 2017 Honda Accord EX.

  1. Newly Released Estimates Show Traffic Fatalities Reached a 16-Year High in 2021. NHTSA

  2. Preliminary Motor Vehicle Death Estimates, 2022-2024. NSC Injury Facts

  3. 2021 Speeding Statistics from Around the World. Kustom Signals, Inc.

  4. The results of our nationwide analysis of traffic stops and searches. Open Policing