Being issued a traffic ticket, whether in Vermont or some other state, usually requires you to pay fees and/or fines. Certain tickets may also cause your car insurance premiums to go up. Here’s a look at how being ticketed might affect your auto insurance rates, along with what you can do to minimize any impact the ticket has.
How Are My Vermont Car Insurance Premiums Impacted by a Traffic Ticket?
Vermont Relies on a Point-Based System
The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles relies on a point-based system to monitor drivers’ violations and assess appropriate penalties. Most tickets for moving violations come with points:
Minor violations (e.g. driving without a license or speeding) are assessed 2 points
More serious violations (e.g. passing illegally and tailgating) are assessed 3 points
Even more serious violations (e.g. failing to obey a police officer) are assessed 4 points
Serious violations (e.g. failing to yield to emergency vehicles and texting) are assessed 5 points
Certain violations (e.g. negligent operation and leaving an accident you’re involved in) are assessed 10 points
(These are just some examples of the various violations and how many points they’re assessed.)
Points Cause Auto Insurance Premiums to Increase
In most cases, any points that are added to your license will cause your auto insurance premiums to increase. How large the increase is will depend on many factors, but you can expect the rate increase to occur. The more points on your license, the larger the increase will probably be.
There are three main ways you may be able to mitigate how much your rates go up.
Take Legal Action to Defend Yourself
The first option is to pursue legal action and defend yourself. If you can get a ticket dismissed in court, then the points associated with that ticket likely won’t be added to your license -- in which case your auto insurance premiums probably won’t change.
Of course, getting a ticket dismissed in court isn’t always easy. You may want to hire a lawyer to assist with this process and even then, you might still end up with a ticket and points.
In some cases, it’s not possible to have a ticket fully dismissed but drivers can get their moving violation reduced to one that comes with fewer points. If you’re presented with this option by a prosecutor or judge, you may want to take advantage of the opportunity. While any ticket that comes with points will probably cause your auto premiums to increase, tickets with fewer points normally result in smaller premium jumps than tickets with more points.
Complete a Defensive Driving Course
Another strategy is to complete an approved defensive driving course. There are two ways that going through a course, which is frequently available online, might help you.
First, taking initiative and completing a course yourself might look good in front of a judge. Based on your initiative, a judge might decide to be lenient. They may go so far as to dismiss or reduce your ticket. (This isn’t guaranteed.)
Second, most insurance companies offer discounts on car insurance to drivers who complete approved defensive driving courses. If your insurer offers this discount, you can likely save money regardless of whether your premiums go up. In the event that they do, you’ll probably save more because the discount is often percentage-based.
Talk with an Independent Agent
The final strategy for keeping your premiums low is one that you can use regardless of whether you get a ticket. Asking an independent insurance agent who knows auto insurance to get quotes from different insurers will let you compare coverages and rates offered by various companies. After you’ve been ticketed, you may find that insurers have significant differences in the rates they’ll charge.
To speak with a knowledgeable and independent agent, contact the team at Paige & Campbell Insurance. Our agents have helped many Vermont drivers who received tickets find affordable car insurance coverage, and we’re ready to assist you.