Cost of a Speeding Ticket

I got my first speeding ticket shortly after buying a car back in 1999. I was pulled over on college grounds by campus police for going ten miles over the limit. I pled guilty and paid a fine. Somehow this traffic violation never showed up on the driving record so my insurance stayed the same. That worked out because I could barely afford to keep a beater Toyota Paseo on the road as is. This experience caused enough anguish to never want to be pulled over again. Almost twenty years of driving later that first ticket is still my last (knocks on wood).

I try not to stand out in traffic. I don’t usually speed on the highway. I keep out of the left lane and let other cars pass. I use turn signals, come to a complete stop at stop signs, don’t make illegal u-turns… My driving would qualify me for AARP.

When I bought a red BMW 330i performance package sedan I definitely noticed a bit of additional scrutiny. The car looked fast and sounded mean attracting unwanted attention from law enforcement. I continued driving like an old fart and managed to remain ticket-less.

One reason I ultimately switched from a BMW to a Mini Cooper was the desire for a low profile and stealth. My base model Mini has just 118 horsepower and costs roughly the same as a Honda Civic. Cops never give it a second glance. Other people don’t automatically assume certain things as they do when you pull up in a BMW. The older I get the more it’s about keeping a low profile and maintaining stealth wealth… I totally get The Millionaire Next Door.  

But enough about me because that’s not what this story is about. It’s actually about my wife.

My wife is a good driver, in general, but she’s definitely got issues with The Law. When she moved here from another state she immediately rear ended someone. After replacing the front-end of the car she proceeded to collect moving violations to the point where her license was about to get suspended. Ask my wife and she’ll blame the police – they are just so much stricter here than back home! I happen to agree with that, but still.

She’s gotten better. Still, I can’t remember the day without at least one moving violation on her record. I know this because I shop car insurance every year. I get to see the financial toll that a single speeding ticket can take firsthand.

Her latest ticket was for driving 38 mph in a 25 mph zone… Yikes. With another ticket already on her record I insisted she pleads with the court. A judge was kind enough to reduce the charge to 9 mph over the limit. My wife wrote a check for $120.

But we all know that’s not the end. With a policy renewal coming up I waited for the insurance company to increase the rates. I just received the new quote and – no surprise – we’ll pay more.

Currently we are paying $451 per year to Elephant Insurance. That’s for 2 cars, 250K/500K in Bodily Injury Liability, 100K in Property Damage Liability with a $500 deductible on a Comprehensive coverage.  We’d be paying less but Elephant found out about my wife “not obeying traffic device” AKA “rolling through a stop sign” a couple of year ago.

Our new rate is $658 per year due to the speeding ticket added a few months back.

Cost of going 9 mph over the limit? $207 per year. That’s a 45% insurance premium increase because of a relatively minor moving violation! Imagine what it’d be for a 13 mph over (the original charge and the next speeding tier) or for a reckless driving ticket (automatic at 20 mph over). I’d have to tell my wife to ride a bike.

Every insurance company is different but they generally check at least 3 years of driving history. When you ask for a quote they download your Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) and display any issues affecting the rate like this:

In this case, the insurance company sees a repeat offender and slaps her with a 45% premium increase. Since my wife and I are on the same policy we will be paying $207 per year more for at least 3 years.

Total cost of going 9 mph over the speed limit is 3 years x $207 + $120 ticket = $741. Plus court time and that sinking feeling when you see blue lights in a rear view mirror.

I won’t be renewing with Elephant Insurance this year after getting quotes from other companies. All of them quoted a higher rate after pulling the MVR but Geico penalized the least.

Here are two screenshots showing a quote before and after Geico ran the driving history report. These rates are for liability only. I’m dropping the comprehensive coverage since our two cars are now worth less than $9,000 combined.

250K/500K Bodily Injury and 100K Property Damage on 2 cars. No other coverages.

Before MVR – 6 Month quote, clean driving record:

After MVR – 6 Month quote, two recent moving violations:

With a clean record we’d pay $380 per year. With two moving violations we’ll pay $450 per year. At $70 more that’s only a 18% penalty vs the 45% penalty with Elephant. Yet another argument for driving old paid off cars so you don’t need a comprehensive coverage!

It may look as if we’ll pay $1 less per year with Geico despite adding another ticket to the MVR. Of course that’s not true since we won’t have a comprehensive coverage like we did with Elephant Insurance. Anything that happens to the cars while stationary will have to be paid for from our own pockets. We will be paying more for less.  

Perhaps I should mention that this post was prompted by a note sent to my wife. I’ve been preaching to the choir about dangers of a lead foot. This time I put some screenshots together in an email to hopefully get the message across. It’s so much easier – and safer – to follow the rules rather than dealing with insurance premium increases and traffic fines for years to come.

So far all I got in reply is “Was that really necessary?” Perhaps I should look into that bicycle after all…

Drive safe!