In the Capital Region car culture, owners need to protect their valuable investments. A recent visit to the Colonie Police Department showed huge lines of people caught on the Northway or on local roads for traffic violations. Fred Elia, owner of Buy Your Car with Fred has researched, through experience with fellow drivers, how to prevent a car insurance rate hike after getting ticketed.
Traffic violations show up on your state driving record, which is accessed periodically by your insurance company. There are a few things you can do to keep a ticket from appearing on your driving record or minimize the impact on your insurance rate.
- Hire a lawyer. A lawyer could help your case. You’ll have to pay, but probably not much. A local lawyer charges $80 to handle a basic traffic case. (What can help you get off the hook? You can prove you did not commit the offense. The ticket contains inaccurate information.The officer who issued the ticket didn’t appear in court.)
- Go to court. If you go to court, you may end up getting the ticket reduced to a lesser offense or having the case dismissed entirely. There are several reasons why a judge might dismiss your case. Among them:
- Attend traffic school. Some states allow you to keep a violation off your record by attending traffic school. You can attend traffic school in person (many have night and weekend classes) or online and you’ll have to pass a test, but it shouldn’t be difficult if you were paying attention. The fee to attend the school is usually small.
- Avoid getting pulled over again, if you wind up paying the ticket...This seems obvious, but more violations will further increase your insurance rates. Keep your car maintained--no broken or malfunctioning lights--wear your seat belt, drive safely and defensively, and renew your registration on time.
- Be patient. Some insurance companies will reduce your rate after a year with no violations. Many moving violations will no longer affect your rate after three years.
- Comparison shop for new insurance. Insurance companies treat violations differently, so another company may offer you a better rate. But don’t lie about past infractions. The company will be reviewing your driving record, even if you’ve moved to another state.
Dave Balog teaches financial basics for families. firstname.lastname@example.org. 355-0967.