How and When Your Driving Record Affects Your Car Insurance Rates

Drivers with a clean record can expect significantly lower rates than people with incidents on their record. Incidents like a DUI raise average rates by as much as 50%. Most incidents fall off your record within three to five years.

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One of the most important things an insurance company considers when setting your rates and coverage options is your driving record. All licensed drivers in the United States have a driving record, which details any incidents (including accidents, collisions, tickets, and other moving violations).

Drivers with incidents on their driving record can expect to pay higher rates — sometimes significantly higher. We found that more severe incidents, like a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction, increase average rates by as much as 50%. The time incidents stay on your record can vary by state, though it typically ranges from three to five years. We’ll cover everything you need to know when it comes to how your driving record affects car insurance — including average prices, cheapest insurers, and other ways to save on your bill — in the sections below.

Key Takeaways:

  • Incidents on your driving record could increase your rates by as much as 50%, with DUIs seeing the sharpest increase.
  • Accidents typically stay on your record for at least three to five years, but it depends on your insurance company and where you live.
  • DUIs can stay on your motor vehicle record permanently.

How Different Infractions Affect Your Rates

Smiling senior couple driving car

Not all incidents are created equal, but insurance companies view drivers with motor vehicle incidents as high-risk. More severe infractions can increase insurance rates by 50%, though on average, drivers see an increase of around 26% for most infractions. The table below outlines average auto insurance rates based on data from and the percentage increase drivers could see with various incidents.

Driving Record Average Monthly Premiums % Increase
Clean record $135
Any infraction $170 26%
Ticket $171 27%
Accident $181 34%
DUI $203 50%


Drivers with one ticket on their record pay an average of $171 monthly for insurance coverage, according to our analysis. This rate is a 27% increase compared to drivers with a clean record. Your rates can increase even more if your ticket involves more serious moving violations, like excessive speeding or reckless driving.


If the police find you at fault in an accident, your rates will likely climb around 34%, according to data. Our research found that the average driver with an accident on their record pays $181 per month — $46 more per month than drivers with a clean record. People with a history of accidents may face even higher rates.

DUIs and DWIs

You can expect more serious financial consequences for DUIs and DWIs. On average, drivers with a DUI pay $203 per month for insurance — 50% more than people with a clean driving record. In addition, drivers with a DUI may be required to pay state fees and maintain specialized insurance coverage — including filing an SR-22 or FR-44 — for several years following a DUI conviction. You could also face the possibility of license suspension, depending on the charge and where you live.

Why Insurance Companies Use Your Driving Record to Set Rates

Car insurance companies operate on a contract basis. Your insurer agrees to protect you from financial losses, and you pay a monthly, biannual, or annual premium for that protection. Insurance companies look at your driving record to help determine what type of risk you pose when filing a claim.

They consider a customer with multiple violations and incidents on their record to be a high-risk driver (or more likely to file a claim and cost the company money), so insurers charge higher rates to offset that risk.

The Cheapest Insurance Companies for Different Driving Records

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You have hundreds of car insurance options, and while that variety makes for a competitive market, it can also make it more challenging to know which insurance company best fits your needs.

When looking at potential coverage options, it’s important to note that company rates will vary, sometimes substantially, from one to the next. Each insurance company uses a unique formula to set rates — while most companies consider similar factors, how they weigh them may vary, affecting the potential cost of your policy.

Check out the table below to see how we’ve broken down the cheapest insurance companies based on driving history.

Driving Record Cheapest Company Cheapest Average Monthly Premium Average Annual Savings*
Clean record State Farm $85 $600
Any infraction GEICO $99 $732
Recent ticket GEICO $101 $744
Recent at-fault accident GEICO $108 $708
Recent DUI State Farm $132 $792
*Average savings are calculated by comparing each company’s average rates to the national average for the type of driving record mentioned.

It may seem obvious, but you should always aim for a clean driving record if you want the lowest insurance premiums possible. At-fault accidents, collisions, and traffic violations will increase the cost of your coverage. On average, GEICO and State Farm offer some of the lowest rates compared to the national average.

For example, across all insurance companies in the United States, drivers with a DUI on their record pay an average of $203 per month to insure their cars, according to our research. If you have a DUI, you could save nearly $70 per month by working with State Farm instead of another insurance company.

Drivers with a clean record can save, too. The national average for auto insurance is $135 monthly with a clean driving record. State Farm’s average cost is $85 per month, according to data — a monthly savings of $50.

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Understanding Your Driving Record

When you’re beginning your search for car insurance, it’s a good idea to understand your driving record. When you know whether you have points, a history of violations, or other incidents, you can adjust your expectations and easily recognize rates that might be too high.

Here are a few things you should know about your driving record.

What constitutes a “clean” driving record?

A clean driving record means you don’t have any violations, points, or other incidents on your driving record for a set period of time. Violations and incidents can fall off your record in three to five years, depending on your state.

Driver’s license points system explained

Think of the license points system as getting your name on the board in elementary school. Everyone has their name on the board — when you talk in class, get out of your seat, or interrupt the teacher, they put a tally next to your name. If you earn enough tally points, you might lose recess privileges.

A motor vehicle point system operates similarly. Everyone has a driving record, and if you get a ticket, are at fault in an accident, or commit other violations, the state DMV (or BMV) puts points on your record. Different violations are worth a different number of points.

For example, in Virginia, drivers receive three points on their driving record for speeding (up to 9 mph over the speed limit) and six points for reckless driving (like failure to yield or failure to stop for a school bus) and DUIs.

New York gives between one and 11 points based on the severity of the infraction. The DMV may suspend your license if you get more than 11 points in New York and 18 or more in Virginia during a 12-month period.

Not all states have a point system, but many do. If you accumulate too many points in a set time (typically 12–24 months), you may have to pay a fine or lose your driving privileges.

How to check your driving record

Many states allow you to access a copy of your driving record through an online records request. In some states, you may access the record for free, though you may need to pay to receive an official, physical copy. Fees and access vary by state.

For example, Washington state charges $15 to purchase a copy of your driving record online. You should have a copy of your photo identification ready to scan when purchasing.

How to get points removed from your record

The process of removing points from your record will vary by state. For example, Virginia allows drivers to earn one safety point per year for safe driving habits. In other states, you can take safe driving courses to remove points.

But some states don’t have a point reduction system. If you don’t want to complete a course or your state doesn’t have options, you’ll have to wait for points to fall off your driving record.

On average, states allow points to fall off driving records after three to five years. Sometimes, points will stay on your record after a set amount of time, but they won’t count toward suspending your license.

How insurance companies access your driving record

Insurance companies will look at your driving record for the past several years. An insurance agent can typically access your driving record through the local DMV (or BMV). When you apply for an auto insurance policy, you sign an agreement allowing the insurance company to access your driving record.

It’s also worth noting that many insurance companies utilize their own points system separate from what states use. That’s another reason why rates can vary so much between insurance companies — and why you should compare quotes from several companies whenever you’re shopping for a new policy.

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How Long Tickets and Accidents Stay on Your Driving Record

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The amount of time incidents stay on your record can vary by state, but their effect on your insurance typically goes down over time. For example, Indiana keeps incidents on your record indefinitely, but points for moving violations fall off your record after two years. In Idaho, traffic convictions fall off your record after three years.

Some states, like Virginia, have a scaled list for how long incidents stay on your record. In Virginia, driving while intoxicated (DWI) stays on your driving record for 11 years, while a ticket for improper passing or an improper U-turn comes off your record after three.

Understanding the “look-back period”

All states have what’s called a “look-back” period, which is the amount of time a traffic offense stays on your record. Some states maintain this look-back period partly to determine whether future offenses could result in criminal charges.

Look-back periods vary by state and can range between five years and a lifetime. For example, New Mexico has the shortest look-back period, at five years, while Texas, Nebraska, Alaska, New York, and Vermont have lifetime look-back periods.

How to Save on Car Insurance After a Ticket or Accident

Closeup of man driving car

Accidents happen. No matter how careful you are, it’s possible to be in an accident or get a ticket for a moving violation. Fortunately, there’s still hope for saving money on your insurance rates. Here are a few things you can do to help lower your rates if you have incidents on your driving record.

  • Try to remove violations from your record: If you live in a state that offers point reduction programs, consider completing the requirements to remove points from your record and potentially lower your insurance rates.
  • Opt for a higher deductible: One of the easiest ways to save money on any insurance product is to choose a higher deductible. You’ll pay more out of pocket if you’re in an accident, but your monthly premiums will be lower.
  • Bundle your insurance policies: Save money by bundling auto and homeowners insurance policies. Some insurance companies allow you to bundle life and disability policies as well.
  • Compare rates from multiple companies: Before making a final decision, you should look at rates and insurance coverage options from at least three companies. Comparing rates can ensure you get the maximum coverage for the lowest rate possible.

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FAQs About Your Driving Record and Car Insurance

Choosing an auto insurance company can feel overwhelming. There’s a lot to consider between rates, customer service, coverage options, and state requirements. Here are a few answers to the most commonly asked questions to help make your decision easier.

Do all accidents show up on your driving record?

It depends. All accidents involving a police report will show up on your record, but if you get in an accident and police aren’t involved, it won’t show up. If police are involved, the accident will appear on your record, even if you’re not at fault. But drivers involved in no-fault accidents may not receive points on their driving record.

How can you clear your driving record?

In most cases, clearing your driving record takes time. While some states have systems to help remove points, you’ll need to wait for the allotted period to pass before the accident is gone from your driving record. Even if you can remove points from your driving record, the incidents may stay on your driving record indefinitely.

How much does car insurance go up if you get into an accident?

It depends on where you live, whether you’re at fault, and your insurance company. On average, drivers see an increase in their premium of about 34% following a traffic accident, according to our research.

Do parking tickets affect your car insurance rates?

No. In most cases, parking tickets won’t affect your insurance rates or appear on your driving record. Since these infractions aren’t moving violations, you shouldn’t be worried about them affecting your premiums. But if you fail to pay for your parking tickets, you could lose your license or the ability to register your vehicle.

Data Methodology:

Data scientists at analyzed more than 50 million real-time auto insurance quotes from more than 75 partner insurers to compile the rates and statistics seen in this article.’s auto insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers’ vehicles, driving records, insurance histories, and demographic information.

All the rates listed in this article have been collected from a combination of real quotes and external insurance rate data gathered in collaboration with Quadrant Information Services. uses these observations to provide readers with insights into how auto insurance companies determine their premiums.


  1. J.D. Power, “2023 U.S. Auto Insurance Study,” accessed January 1, 2024.
  2. Insurance Information Institute, “Facts + Statistics: Auto insurance,” accessed January 1, 2024.
  3. National Association of Insurance Commissioners, “2019/2020 Auto Insurance Database Report,” accessed January 1, 2024.
  4. Insurance Information Institute, “What is Auto Insurance,” accessed May 30, 2024.
  5. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, “Moving Violations and Point Assessments,” accessed May 30, 2024.
  6. Idaho Transportation Department, “Idaho’s Point Violations,” accessed May 30, 2024.
  7. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, “Three Point Violations,” accessed May 30, 2024.
  8. Bureau of Motor Vehicles, “Driver Record Points,” accessed May 30, 2024.

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