Did you know that a traffic ticket could not only cost you now but also years down the road? In some circumstances, the amount of money the court will charge you for your fine today will pale in comparison to the amount your insurance company will charge you in the future.
Traffic Tickets and the Cost of Insurance
Auto insurance premiums are calculated based on risk. It stands to reason that an insurance company would view a driver with a poor driving record as one who would potentially cost them future claims as they would have a higher probability of being involved in accidents. Better drivers cost insurance companies less in the long run and the savings are passed along in the form of lower premiums.
Just because you received a ticket doesn’t mean it will eventually appear on your driving record. Non-moving violations, such as registration or inspection tickets, will not appear on your driving record, so they will not cost you beyond the face value of the fine. The amount of impact of a moving violation depends on the type of violation you were ticketed for. It is important to note that a citation will not appear on your driving record until you are officially convicted. Because of this, it is important to contest a ticket if you believe it was written unjustly.
Call Your Insurance Company
If you have received a traffic ticket, the only way to know its specific impact is to contact your insurance company. Any increase in your premiums will not go into effect until your next policy period. This means, depending on your renewal cycle, you could potentially feel the financial impact of a ticket you received today as much as four years into the future. But, good news. All may not be lost, even at this juncture.
It Still May Not Be Too Late
Unlike some other states, Texas driving law allows for the dismissal of certain traffic tickets if the driver will complete a driver safety course. Taking one of these courses (known as “defensive driving” to most Texans) will prevent the citation from appearing on a driving record. There are court costs involved but, generally speaking, the amount is less than the face value of the fine and, by keeping the citation off the record, the driver saves the expense of future insurance premium increases.
A TEA approved defensive driving course can be completed in person or online. The most important part of that sentence is that the course be TEA and TDLR approved. Otherwise, the court will not accept your completion certificate for ticket dismissal and you’ll be right back where you started.
Googling “Texas defensive driving” or “TDLR approved defensive driving” or “defensive driving (city where you got your ticket)” will get you results from a multitude of course providers vying for your attention. Don’t spend time looking for a course that could be time better spent toward completing a course. Knowing a couple of things will make choosing a course easier.
Narrowing the Field
How much a course costs, what it covers and how long it takes to complete are all determined by state law. Don’t spend time clicking from one driving school site to another trying to determine if their “cheapest course” is cheaper than another guy’s cheapest course. When it’s all said and done, the course you choose should be the one that will work best for you.
Classroom courses can be worth it, but they can also be hard to find. If you’re like most people, your schedule will probably best accommodate an online course. Taking a course online allows you to complete it at a pace that suits you instead of locking you in a classroom for a set chunk of time that you probably don’t have to spare. But, out of the hundreds, which one to choose?
Remember that a defensive driving course is just a means to an end, with that end being the certificate of completion that will dismiss your ticket. Remember, too, that it is the state that determines what will be covered in the course. All of them are going to remind you the shape and color of a stop sign, to always drive the speed limit and to never drink and drive. There are some that promise comedy and don’t deliver much while others making no such claims a manage to be quite enjoyable. Our advice? Skip the search, take a look at a list of state-approved providers, pick one and get going. Taking defensive driving is like any other thing you don’t particularly want to do— you’ll never get finished if you never get started.