Published in Criminal Law on June 17, 2018.
An Indiana driver gets hit with a traffic ticket while in New York. That person is in for some bad news. The first is likely to be the cost of the ticket. New York State has some of the highest fines for traffic tickets in the U.S. and tickets can get expensive fast. The second shock is likely to be how the driver’s auto insurance rates shoot up after he/she decides to pay it.
Most drivers think that an out-of-state traffic ticket is not a big deal. This can lead to one of two major mistakes: ignore the ticket thinking their home state won’t find out, or pay the ticket just to “make it go away.” Both are bad strategies and can have a lasting impact on one’s Indiana auto insurance. Here’s why (and what to do about it).
New York Can Inform Indiana of the Traffic Ticket
Indiana and New York are among 42 states that have an agreement to share information about each other’s drivers, including when those drivers get traffic tickets in another state. Called the Driver’s License Compact, this agreement ensures that Indiana’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) will be notified should an Indiana driver pay or get convicted in court of a NY traffic ticket. Once the BMV is notified of the conviction, it will record the infraction on the person’s driving record. Once there, it is only a matter of time before the auto insurance company notices it.
Indiana BMV Applies Points for NY Tickets
New York drivers catch a break when they get a ticket out of state; the NY Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does not assess points for out-of-state infractions. Indiana drivers aren’t so lucky. The BMV will assess points as though the violation had occurred in Indiana (i.e. not the number of points NY assigns to the violation). If the ticket in question does not have an equivalent offense in Indiana, the BMV could use the closest applicable violation. Indiana can suspend the license of any driver that accrues 18 points or more, and a New York ticket will count towards that total.
Indiana drivers should also be aware that they could face the consequences of New York State’s point system. While those points will not appear on an Indiana driving record, New York still keeps track of them for the purpose of imposing additional penalties. For example, drivers convicted of violations worth six points or more will face a Driver Responsibility Assessment. This costs $300 or more, on top of the fine for the violation. Those who are convicted or pay 11 points or more in NY tickets could have their right to drive in NY suspended.
Ignoring a NY Ticket Will Only Make It Worse
It should be obvious by now that paying a NY traffic ticket ensures that it will appear on one’s driving record and impact one’s auto insurance. But can the BMV find out about the ticket if the driver doesn’t respond to it? The answer is yes. Failing to respond to a NY ticket means the driver will likely be convicted by default, and Indiana will be informed. What’s worse is that drivers who don’t respond to or pay a traffic ticket can have their right to drive in NY suspended. The suspension will also appear on one’s Indiana driving record. On top of that, Indiana could choose to suspend the license entirely in response to the NY suspension. Suffice it to say, a suspension in one or both states can wreak havoc with one’s auto insurance rates.
How Much Will Indiana Insurance Go Up Over an NY Ticket?
Indianans have some of the lowest auto insurance premiums in the country, according to insure.com. While the points represent a serious risk, it is worth noting that the conviction is what auto insurance companies will look at to determine any rate adjustment. Each violation carries a risk of an accident or other incident that could require the insurer to make a payment to one or more parties. One study found that Indiana drivers saw an average premium increase of $190 for just one speeding ticket.
Exactly how much the insurance company will adjust the premium depends on a huge number of factors, including age, income level, past claims filed, safe driving courses, and more. It also matters how many other infractions are currently on the driver’s record and whether or not the infraction carries a risk of suspension.
Even the city and county where one lives make a difference. For example, several cities in Lake County, including Gary, Hammond, Munster, and Highland are among the most expensive cities. Conversely, many towns right outside of Indianapolis, including Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield are among the least expensive.
The only way to best see to it that a NY traffic ticket does not affect one’s Indiana auto insurance rates is to hire a licensed New York attorney to fight the ticket. On the plus side, in most cases Indiana drivers won’t have to New York State to do this; a licensed NY traffic ticket attorney can represent a driver in court and enter a plea deal or argue the case on his/her behalf. An attorney with experience in traffic ticket law is in the best position to make successful arguments and execute on legal strategy in court.
Adam Rosenblum, Esq. is the founder of TrafficTickets.com, a traffic ticket law firm that practices traffic ticket and criminal law in both New York and New Jersey.