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You may have heard that “warnings” do not affect your insurance rates. You may also have heard the opposite. There is a great deal of confusion about exactly what a warning is, and how it affects your driving record and your car insurance premium costs. Most of this misunderstanding is due to difference across state lines as to what warnings are intended to do and how they are reported to state DMVs. Understanding your state’s protocol for warnings, both verbal and written, will help you to understand whether a warning is going to make your insurance payments go up.
What is traffic ticket warning?
First of all, a warning is exactly what it says – a warning by a police officer that he or she could give you a ticket, but instead chooses to allow you a little leeway. This warning may come in the form of a verbal reprimand or a written warning. In no instance should you have to appear in court as the result of a warning; it is simply to tell you to slow down, or the next time the officer will ticket you. The reason to put it in writing is so that other officers can see that you have already been warned. In very small towns, for example, it is more common to have verbal warnings givens; in larger areas, you may be subject to a written warning so that if you are pulled over again, other officers will know that you have already been warned.
This is where it begins to get tricky. If your warning is written down, it is very possible that it is logged in somewhere to a computer system, and if it is, it is possible your insurance company will see it at some point. This really depends on how vigilant your insurance company is at sweeping driving records, and how deeply they dig. Sometimes, warnings are only posted on “local” systems, so they do not appear on DMV records, which is what insurance companies usually look at. However, if warnings are reported to the DMV in your state, then it is likely your insurance company will see your warning and may decide to treat it as a reason to raise your premiums.
To be honest, this rarely happens. First of all, most DMVs do not have the time or resources to keep up with warnings. Second, fewer warnings are actually being given as police departments crack down on speeders. However, if you are curious, you can contact your state’s DMV and find out if they keep track of written warnings, and if so, how long they keep them on record.
Do car insurance rates increase from a warning ticket?
Car insurance companies will often ignore a warning here or there, as well. They are looking for a true pattern of speeding behavior which would signal you as a high risk. Warnings do not add points to your license, so insurance companies tend to pay little attention to them, except in one circumstance. If you have two or more speeding tickets and several written warnings, the insurance company may focus on your driving record more closely. This would indicate to them that you are speeding far more often than you are ticketed, and that you are headed, eventually, for an accident. In that circumstance, the company might take more interest in your written warnings as an indication of a pattern of behavior. It is technically possible that your insurance could even be cancelled if the company feels you are too much of a risk, although this is a rare occurrence.
The best way to avoid this problem is, of course, not to speed. However, if you do receive a warning, check with your state’s DMV or your local police department to find out if the warning is reported and documented with the state. If not, you probably have little to worry about. If you are required to appear in court for any reason, then you have not received a warning; you have received some type of ticket, which will probably appear on your record.