Nobody wants to see and hear the flashing lights and sirens from a police car racing up in their back window. Aside from the gnawing in your gut this experience produces from trying to get through being pulled over by the cops, there’s the even longer-lasting damage that results from certain traffic tickets issued.

Some tickets carry more weight than others. By this, we’re referring to not only the fine for the ticket itself, and any other associated penalties, which may include jail time, and costs, which may include hiring a lawyer, but the after-effects to your insurance – if you can even hold onto it.

Needless to say, this isn’t a parking ticket that will produce such a cascading effect. No, the top five traffic tickets that will really wreck your car insurance, according to, are as follows:

Worst Offender: DUI

At the top of the list is getting nailed for a driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). This ticket may cause your auto insurance premium to skyrocket by 93 percent. If it’s not your first DUI ticket, be prepared to possibly lose your insurance. According to a State Farm Insurance spokesman quoted in the article, there’s no amount of premium that can match the insurer’s risk to cover such scofflaws.

Drunken driving killed an average of one person in less than an hour (51 minutes) in 2012.

# 2: Reckless Driving

A reckless driving conviction is likely to result in an average 82 percent premium increase. What is reckless driving? Check your state for specific definitions, but it generally means intentionally ignoring the safety of other people and property. Along with stiff fines, a reckless driving ticket may result in jail time. Not to mention what a disaster it is for your insurance.

# 3: Careless Driving

Distinctly different from reckless driving, careless driving not quite as severe an offense, but still raises insurance premiums an average of 27 percent. Careless driving is unintentionally engaging in risky driving, such as abrupt lane changes without signaling. While the hit to your premium might not be pleasant, it’s three times less than a conviction for reckless driving.

# 4: Speeding

Who hasn’t gone over the limit now and then? If you’ve engaged in this type of bad driving behavior consistently, however, you’ll eventually get caught – if you don’t wind up in an accident first. Increases in your auto insurance premium depend on the amount over the limit and how many prior speeding tickets you’ve been issued.

The range of average premium increases is 21 to 30 percent, as follows:

  • 21% – 1 to 5 miles per hour (mph) over the posted speed limit
  • 28% – 16 to 30 mph over the limit
  • 30% – going at least 31 mph over the limit

# 5: Running a Red Light

With an average insurance premium increase of 19 percent, running a red light is the fifth most damaging traffic ticket you can get. But this also includes failure to stop at a stop sign and rolling through a right-turn-on-red without stopping.

Red-light runners caused the deaths of 683 people and injuries to an estimated 133,000 in 2012, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The data comes from a survey commissioned by, a Bankrate company.

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