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Updated June 15, 2022
A safety feature put in motor vehicles to protect drivers and passengers, seat belts save lives. If you’ve seen the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, then you know that if you don’t wear a seat belt, you run the risk of getting a traffic violation. While this is relatively minor, it’s still important to know how — and if — it can affect car insurance rates.
Don’t let a little seat belt violation be the reason you see a spike in your insurance premiums. Compare car insurance quotes online and choose the perfect policy to fit your needs and budget.
At most, seat belt tickets can affect your car insurance rates by up to 3%, but it depends.
You aren’t likely to get pulled over for not wearing a seat belt, as it’s a conditional ticket.
A seat belt ticket may or may not impact you at all, depending on what state you live in.
Is not wearing a seat belt illegal across the United States?
Will a seat belt ticket increase my car insurance rates?
Though it depends on the state you live in, seat belt tickets are generally not reflected in car insurance quotes.
While you should wear your seat belt at all times to protect your own safety (regardless of the law), it isn’t legally required in every state. But New Hampshire is the only state with no seat belt law, except for passengers under 18 years old. In the other 49 states, it’s the law for the driver and front-seat passenger to be strapped in on the road.
In the case of passengers who get caught riding without a safety belt, the driver might still be the one who gets in trouble with a ticket. This varies on a state-to-state basis, so check your local laws. If you have a child passenger under the age of 18 in your car without a seat belt and you get pulled over by law enforcement, you are responsible for the ticket, not the minor.
Compared to other more severe traffic violations, getting a seat belt ticket isn’t the worst thing that could happen because it’s a conditional violation. This means that you can’t get pulled over just for not wearing a seat belt. But if you get pulled over for any other reason and the police officer notices, you would get two separate tickets.
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Not all seat belt tickets are the same
Each state treats traffic tickets differently. In some states, a seat belt ticket might be considered a moving violation. In this case, you might need to worry about it raising your auto insurance rates. If this isn’t your first offense and you have other moving violations on your record, like speeding tickets or not stopping for a school bus, it could hurt you even more.
However, a handful of states treat seat belt tickets as non-moving violations, comparing them to the likes of parking tickets, which might have lesser or no consequences on your insurance. Lastly, some states, like Minnesota, might only give you a slap on the wrist. In this more fortunate case, drivers caught without a seat belt have to pay a fine. It doesn’t count as a driving violation.
If your state treats seat belt violations seriously, you might face other penalties for breaking this traffic law. On top of a potential increase in your insurance premium, you also might add points to your driving record, which can hurt how much you pay in the future. In very rare instances, you may also be responsible for paying court fees.
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States that consider seat belt tickets to be non-moving violations
Finding out that your seat belt ticket is a non-moving violation is the ideal situation. This means that law enforcement doesn’t place a citation on your driving record and you won’t rack up points on your driver’s license. There is little to no change in your car insurance rates. Keep in mind, though, that the state you get caught driving in matters, not your state of residence.
State laws change regularly, so keep an eye on any updates by checking rules from that specific state’s DMV. Here is a list of states that treat seat belt tickets as non-moving violations:
States that consider seat belt tickets to be moving violations
On the other hand, getting charged with a moving violation can have some impact on your driving record and, therefore, negatively impact how much you pay for car insurance. Seat belt tickets are minor offenses in these states — not a felony. They are usually more of an infraction or misdemeanor.
In this case, failing to use a safety restraint can add points to your license or stay on your driving record, which would impact your car insurance rates, similar to a claim or collision in your history. Furthermore, some states might charge not only the driver but also the passengers a fine for not being strapped in. Here are a few states that treat seat belt tickets a bit more severely:
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How a seat belt ticket affects your car insurance rates
A seat belt ticket could affect your car insurance rates, depending on whether your state deems it a moving or non-moving violation, your pre-existing driving record, and even your insurer. In the worst case, if you get a moving violation, it won’t have a huge impact on your rates because it is considered a minor infraction, unlike a DUI or an expired license.
At most, it’s not likely that a seat belt ticket will cause more than a 3% increase in your insurance rates. By comparison, a more serious violation like reckless driving or a DUI can spike your rates by 20% or more. Because a seat belt ticket is so minor, paying it and leaving it on your record is an incredibly simple option with very little consequence.
Actions you can take to offset costs
Dispute the ticket. If you believe you were wrongly charged with a seat belt ticket, you might want to consider appealing it. In some cases, you have to go to court to do so, or even hire a lawyer. But if you’re confident in your ability to get out of it, it could lead to some benefits, like paying fewer fines or even dropping the ticket entirely.
Talk to a professional to find out how long the ticket will stay on your record. The DMV, a police officer, or an insurance agent can help you better understand your state’s laws and your options. A representative from your insurance company can also help you figure out what a minor violation on your driving record entails. It might be very minimal.
Be extra careful behind the wheel in the future. Being a good driver has its benefits. Not only does it keep you and your passengers safe, but it also protects others on the road and can lead to great discounts. Many insurance companies offer discounts that reward drivers for safe driving or for going claims-free for a certain number of months.
Consider enrolling in a minor violation forgiveness program. Just like with speeding tickets or other violations on your record, you can show insurance companies that you’re a responsible driver by taking driving courses. If your driving record is clean and this is your first offense, some insurers would be willing to forgive it, especially because it’s minor.
Go a step further with traffic school. Alternatively, if your driving history shows several claims, collisions, and accidents already on it, you might need to figure out a more serious solution. In this case, you might want to consider a defensive driving traffic course that can help you get lower insurance rates in the long run.
Try a new insurer. If you find that none of these solutions is an option, or maybe you try one and don’t see your rates decrease at all, you might want to consider buying a policy from a new insurance company. Other insurers might not care about your seat belt ticket as much, or even at all.
Seat belt tickets: not the end of the world
At the end of the day, getting a seat belt ticket isn’t ideal, but it really won’t hurt you that much. While it can affect your car insurance rates, you might see an increase of 3% at most. That means that if you pay $200 for your monthly premium and get charged with a seat belt violation, your premium could go up to just $206. The hassle of court isn’t worth $6 a month.
But you might need to worry about racking up points on your driver’s license or driving history if you already have a few claims or violations. In this case, it might be time to shop around for another policy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Seat belt use is required in every state across the country, with the exception of New Hampshire, where only minors (those under the age of 18) have to buckle up. No matter if you are the driver or in the back seat, seat belts are safety features included in cars to prevent fatalities and injury. Regardless of its legality, it’s always recommended that you drive safely by buckling up.
Follow traffic laws, and you should be all set; a seat belt ticket is a conditional violation, meaning you can’t get pulled over just for driving without one. However, if you are caught, what happens next depends on what state you’re driving in. The state might treat it as a non-moving or moving violation. The latter is the one that could raise your rates.
Across each of the 50 states, it’s required by law that minors (or anyone under the age of 18) wear a seat belt when in a car. However, car seat laws are different. In most cases, children under the age of 5 and under 60 pounds must ride in a car seat. Otherwise, seat belts are ineffective. Children ages 5 to 8 should be in a booster seat, especially if they’re under five feet.
Thankfully, a seat belt ticket is so minor that even if you’re charged with it as a moving violation, it shouldn’t increase your rates by more than 3%. In the grand scheme of things, accepting the ticket, paying it, and dealing with a very minimal increase in rates is a lot easier than going through the hassle of paying the legal fees of going to court.
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Data scientists at Insurify analyzed over 40 million auto insurance rates across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how their car insurance premiums are priced by companies.