When you're late for an important meeting and the open road beckons, it's tempting to ignore speed limits to get to your destination. That decision could be quite costly.
Pushing the pedal to the metal could land you in jail for a year and leave you with a fine up to $5,000. Furthermore, your auto insurance premium could be raised for several years.
In general, you can expect a 10 percent to 50 percent increase in your auto insurance premium from a speeding ticket. The more miles per hour over the speed limit you're caught traveling, the higher your rates will go, says Billy Van Jura, founder of Birchyard LLC, an insurance brokerage in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Adding up the points
In some states, auto insurance companies will base their premium decision, in part, on how many points a speeding ticket has added to your driver's license.
In New York, for instance, going one to 10 miles over the speed limit earns you three points on your license. Traveling 21 to 30 mph over the limit means six points; going at least 40 mph over the limit adds as many as 11 points. Eleven points may result in a suspended license.
In Florida, 16 mph over the speed limit earns you four points. Twelve points on your license within 12 months results in a 30-day license suspension.
"Figuring out the exact effect on your insurance premiums is based on a computerized matrix, which varies among insurance companies," says Kevin Lynch, assistant professor of insurance at The American College in Pennsylvania.
This matrix takes into account hundreds of factors, including any traffic violations you have on your record, your marital status, your credit history and your gender. For example, a 35-year-old single man with bad credit and a couple of speeding tickets on his record will have a higher rate than a 35-year-old married man with good credit and no traffic violations.
Of course, how fast you were caught speeding also will affect your auto insurance premium. Driving well over the speed limit could mean more than just a speeding ticket -- it could mean being charged with the more serious offense of reckless driving.
"If you're driving at 100 miles per hour and you hurt someone, the liability is so much greater," Lynch says.
In Virginia, for example, reckless driving includes going 20 mph over the posted speed limit or traveling faster than 80 mph. Reckless driving adds six points to your license in Virginia and stays on your driving record for 11 years -- the same as a DUI.
Most courts won't reduce a criminal charge for a speeding ticket to a non-speeding violation if you were clocked going more than 20 mph over the posted limit, says Tom Carr, an attorney at law firm Tully Rinckey PLLC in Albany, N.Y.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fines for a first-time offense of reckless driving (defined differently in various states, but including high-speed driving) range from $10 to as much as $5,000 (Oregon and Washington), with up to a year in jail (Arkansas, Georgia, Rhode Island and South Dakota).
Speeding was a contributing factor in about 31 percent of all fatal crashes in 2009, according to the highway safety agency.
For more information about speeding penalties in your state, visit the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration website.