Will a Citation Impact My Insurance and Driving Records?

secure Editorial Standards

SmartFinancial Offers Unbiased, Fact-based Information. Our fact-checked articles are intended to educate insurance shoppers so they can make the right buying decisions. Learn More

A traffic citation can go on your record for up to 10 years depending on where it was issued. You may be able to get the citation removed from your record either through community service, a petition with the court or by enrolling in traffic school.

Continue reading to find out if a non-traffic citation will go on your record, as well as the difference between a citation and a warning.

Key Takeaways

  • Speeding and running a red light are examples of traffic citations recorded on a person’s driving record.
  • In many states, traffic citations remain on a person's driving record for three to seven years.
  • It is possible to contest a traffic ticket and get it dismissed from your driving record.
  • A recent traffic citation will typically result in higher car insurance premiums when you renew your policy.

What Does It Mean to Get a Citation?

A traffic citation is a document that is issued by a law enforcement officer to a driver for breaking traffic laws, such as speeding, running a red light, or failing to stop at a stop sign. The citation will usually list the traffic violation committed and the fine amount, if applicable. Depending on the severity of the infraction, the driver could have their driver's license suspended or revoked.

What's the Difference Between a Citation and a Ticket?

There is generally no difference between a citation and a ticket. The term “citation” is a more formal way of saying “ticket” and is used by officers of the law, as well as court officials.

Will a Citation Show Up on My Insurance Record?

In most cases, citations for traffic violations will show up on your insurance record. Your auto insurance company uses a variety of factors to determine your insurance premiums, including your driving record.

A recent citation will usually result in a higher rate when you renew your policy — the premium hike will depend on the type of citation and whether it’s a repeat offense.

Does a Citation Warning Go on My Driving Record?

Citation warnings — a verbal or written notice issued by a law enforcement officer to a driver who has committed a minor traffic violation — may or may not go on your driving record depending on your state. In some states, citation warnings are not considered official traffic citations and are not recorded on a driver's record. This means that they will not have any impact on your auto insurance premiums or your ability to drive.

In other states, citation warnings may be recorded on a driver's motor vehicle record. This means that if you receive a citation warning, it could potentially be viewed by your insurance company and lead to an increase in your car insurance rates. 

In general, citation warnings are less serious than traffic citations and are not considered as severe as other types of traffic violations. However, it's always a good idea to follow traffic laws and to drive safely to avoid getting any type of citation or warning.

How Long Will a Citation Stay on My Record?

The length of time that a citation will stay on your record depends on the laws of your state and the traffic violations committed. In most states, traffic citations remain on a person's driving record usually between three and seven years, but can be up to 10 years depending on the severity.[1][2][3]

It's important to note that the length of time that a citation stays on your record can also depend on whether or not you contest the citation. If you decide to contest the citation, the process of fighting the citation can take longer and the citation may stay on your record for a longer period of time.

Can I Get a Citation Removed From My Record?

Removing a citation from your driving record is possible, but it depends on the type of citation, your state laws and where the citation was issued. Usually, dismissing the ticket will involve traffic school, doing community service or petitioning the court.

  1. Traffic school: Many states allow drivers to attend traffic school in exchange for having a citation removed from their records.
  2. Deferral or dismissal: Some states have programs that allow drivers to postpone their citation’s issue date to a later time. If they maintain a clean driving record until the postponed date, the ticket may be dismissed.
  3. Community service: Some jurisdictions might allow the person to do community service in exchange for getting the citation removed.
  4. Court petition: It may be possible to petition the court to have a citation removed from a driver’s record if it can be proven the citation was issued in error.
Shop Around for a Cheaper Auto Policy

Will a Non-Traffic Citation Show On My Driving Record?

Non-traffic citations, such as those related to loitering or vandalism, are generally not reported to insurance companies and will not show up on your insurance record. However, a non-traffic citation for a more serious offense, such as public intoxication, could potentially affect your insurance premium. It's always a good idea to check with your auto insurance to find out how a non-traffic citation could potentially affect your insurance premiums.

Is a Citation Considered a Ticket or a Warning?

A citation is generally considered to be a ticket that is issued by a law enforcement officer to a driver for traffic violations or non-traffic-related circumstances. A warning can be a written or verbal notice that a law enforcement officer issues to a driver who has committed a minor traffic violation and may not carry with it the same consequences as a citation.

Can You Get Out of a Citation?

It is possible to contest a citation and potentially have it dismissed but it can be situational. If you want to contest a citation because you believe it was wrongfully issued, you will still need to follow the instructions listed on the notice, which may involve appearing in court. You would then need to present your case with evidence that supports your claim of having not committed any traffic violations.

Keep in mind that contesting a citation does not guarantee its dismissal and is subject to the judge’s discretion. Before moving forward, consider consulting an attorney about the process and your chances of success.


Is a citation the same as a warning?

A citation is a physical document issued to a driver by a law enforcement official for violating a traffic rule, such as exceeding the posted speed limit or running a red light. A warning can be verbal and may not appear on your driving record and affect your insurance premiums, unlike a citation.

Do you have to pay for a citation?

Traffic citations will usually carry a fine and you must pay it or risk additional penalties or consequences. 

How much are citations for speeding?

In most states, the fine for a speeding ticket is based on the severity of the offense and the speed at which the driver was traveling and can be as high as several hundred dollars.

What does “police citation” mean?

A police citation is a document issued by a law enforcement officer as a notice to appear in court or pay a fine for a violation of a law or ordinance. It is no different than a traffic citation. 

Can I pay my citation without going to court?

You can usually pay the fine for your traffic citation without having to set foot in court. The exception to this is if your citation specifies that a court appearance is mandatory.


  1. Missouri Dept. of Revenue. “Tickets and Points FAQs” Accessed Jan. 31, 2023.
  2. North Carolina Dept. of Public Safety. “Driving Records” Accessed Jan. 31, 2023.
  3. Michigan.gov. “Chapter 2: Your Driving Record,” Page 13. Accessed Jan. 31, 2023.

Get a Free Auto Insurance Quote Online Now.