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Do Traffic Tickets Affect Your Credit Score?
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Considering how often the majority of Canadians drive during their day to day lives, it is almost inevitable that you will get a traffic ticket at one time or another. Most people commute to and from work every day. So, when you factor in trips to the store, school or other places, many drivers spend at least a few hours in their car every single week.
Check out our infographic: Commuting to work in Canada.
So, with all of this driving, getting a least one traffic ticket in your life is certainly within the realm of possibility. That ticket could be for anything from a fine for speeding to parking in a location you are not permitted to. Tickets are issued based on severity, there are minor, moderate, and serious infractions. Tickets can also range in cost from around $50 for a standard infraction, up to thousands of dollars if you are caught driving under the influence, speeding in a school zone or anything more severe.
What to Do If You Get a Traffic Ticket?
While getting a ticket is an unpleasant and expensive experience that no one wants to go through, they are fairly easy to deal with. Any standard ticket will have all the details about what you are accused of doing, how much you owe and how to pay or contest the charge written somewhere on it.
Need a loan to pay off your traffic ticket? Read this.
When most people get a ticket, they simply pay it through one of the acceptable methods, such as online, by mail or in person at a designated city establishment. These are the easiest and quickest ways to solve the issue. The ticket will also include a deadline, usually within 30 days when it has to be paid off by to avoid further penalties. In certain provinces, some tickets even include a small discount if a driver pays the ticket off by an earlier date. So, if you are guilty and the ticket is just, you’re better off to simply pay the fine as soon as possible and chalk it up as a learning experience.
What if You Want to Contest a Ticket?
Of course, if you think that your traffic ticket is unjust, there is the option of contesting it by filling in a specific section on the back and mailing it to a designated location. Doing this will often involve waiting a considerable amount of time and eventually attending court as a result. If you don’t want to (or don’t think you have to) pay the ticket, fighting it in court or inquiring about it can be worthwhile. However, it’s important to realize that you may not win your case and have to deal with court fees as a result.
Nevertheless, letting tickets go unpaid and simply forgetting about them is not the way to go, no matter what the infraction is for. While leaving them to get worse is, unfortunately, a common practice, it is definitely not a good idea because how you handle traffic tickets of any kind can affect your credit score, often in a negative way.
The simple answer is yes, they can. However, we will dig a little deeper into exactly why and how tickets affect your credit. While the health of your credit report and credit score won’t be affected directly by you getting a traffic ticket, problems do start to arise when you leave your tickets unpaid for longer and longer periods of time. This is because a traffic ticket is treated just like any other form of debt.
To learn more about your Canadian credit score, click here.
So, imagine you just refused to make your credit card payments for a few months, your credit score would suffer, just like it will suffer if you refuse to pay your traffic tickets. Because of this, it is very important to deal with the situation, as parking ticket collections can affect your credit score. There is also a chance that your local government will send your case to a collections agency, but this is rare, as it isn’t often worth the hassle for a minor traffic ticket.
Read this to find out what else happens if you stop paying your credit card bills.
It usually takes a couple of months before an unpaid parking or speeding ticket shows up on your credit report or is reflected in your credit score, so you have some wiggle room. While you don’t need to pay your tickets immediately, it is a good idea to do it while they are still fresh in your mind and before you completely forget about them.
If your credit report or credit score are suffering as a result of unpaid traffic tickets, there is a fairly easy solution for this as well. All you need to do is pay the overdue ticket, deal with any other fines or fees to the city, then request that the public record is taken off your credit report. Soon after you pay the tickets and allow a suitable time to pass, your credit report and score should improve.
Want to know how long information usually stays on your credit report? Check this out.
Do Traffic Tickets Affect Your Insurance?
What about insurance? Many people are not only curious about whether or not a traffic ticket affects their credit score, but also if it can affect their insurance. Auto insurance is already expensive as it is, but can traffic tickets make it even pricier?
The answer is a resounding yes. Your car insurance rates can potentially be affected greatly by your traffic tickets. If you get pulled over for a DUI, distracted driving, or serious speeding charges, there is a good chance your rates will see a steep increase.
While parking tickets and a few speeding tickets here and there aren’t likely to raise your insurance rates by a lot, they can still bump it up a little. Basically, everything included in your driving history has the potential to raise or lower your insurance costs, no matter what. How much these tickets affect your insurance will depend greatly on the severity of the offenses, how frequently you are being ticketed and how soon you are paying your tickets.
Trying to save money on your car insurance? Read this.
The Bottom Line
Yes, traffic tickets can affect your credit score and insurance if they go unpaid for too long or if you continue to accumulate them at a rapid pace. As a result, you should do all you can to pay your parking, speeding, or other traffic tickets as soon as possible. Thankfully, the most tickets are fairly cheap and it isn’t so much that many people can’t afford to pay them, it’s that they forget about them or simply don’t consider getting a $50 ticket here and there to be very damaging. Of course, now we know that they are, so make sure to get your tickets paid ASAP to keep your credit score healthy.
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