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Traffic tickets that will cost you the most



Ever wonder exactly how much your auto insurance will go up after a speeding ticket? How about after 2 or 3 tickets? I have new numbers to share with you.

Local governments have gone crazy with ticketing for everything because they're starved for revenue. You may recall that TomTom was busted in 2011 for selling database info to police departments so the police would know exactly where people were speeding and could ticket them. (The company has since discontinued this practice.)

The calls I get about this kind of thing are usually about the frightful cost of tickets. But what I've not heard a lot about is what happens to your insurance premium when you get a ticket.

The latest figures from BankRate.com suggest that less than one-third of drivers who got traffic tickets in the last 5 years are paying more for insurance. What really determines if you'll pay more is the type of ticket you get. For example, a ticket for DUI/DWI, reckless driving, or leaving the scene of an accident will eat you up beyond the pale.

InsuranceQuotes.com has a new list of averages for what certain violations will cost you in auto insurance rates. Remember, these are averages, so your individual results may vary. But here's the scoop:

A single ticket going 1 to 15 miles over the limit will cause a 21% rise in your auto insurance costs. Going 16 miles over the speed limit will generally result in an insurance spike of just under 30%.

The best advice is stay 9 miles or less over the posted speed limit and you'll generally be safe. Particularly on freeways, those first 9 miles over the speed limit are like a gimme from police. Of course, this is not true everywhere; this is general advice, so use your discretion!

What about reckless driving? A single ticket will raise your rates 82%! I had to do a double-take on that number when I first saw it! Similarly, a first-time offense for DUI or DWI will generally increase your premium by about the same amount.

Know that in some cases you can insulate yourself from higher rates by taking a driver safety course. These courses are often sponsored by the National Safety Council and run in 6-hour increments. 

Finally, don't forget there's really a world of possibility for reducing what you pay for auto insurance if you use a pay-as-you-drive insurer. A company like Progressive will offer you lower rates on insurance in exchange for giving them the right to spy on your driving habits. And they're just one of many doing this sort of thing.

Looking for a list of the best and worst auto insurers? We've got it here for you. And don't forget about our list of the best and worst home insurers too.

Clark Howard is a nationally syndicated consumer advice expert



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