Difference Between a Citation and a Speeding Ticket

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5 min read
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If you were pulled over for driving over the limit, you probably received a citation for a speeding violation. What’s a citation vs. ticket? In most cases, they’re the same. A ticket or a citation are documents explaining that you’re accused of committing a traffic offense, like speeding.

If you’re wondering how much it’s going to cost you and what happens next, here’s everything you need to know about speeding tickets, how they can affect your insurance rates and what you can do about it.

Is a citation a ticket?

There isn’t a difference between citation and ticket. A ticket is a less formal word for a speeding citation issued by a police officer or speeding camera when you aren’t obeying posted speed limit signs. When you get a ticket or citation, you’ll generally have to pay a fine and could even face a court appearance.

Speeding tickets explained

When you’re pulled over by an officer and issued a citation, the officer will explain that you’re accused of speeding and explain why he or she believes you were. He or she may have captured your speed on a handheld speed gun or captured your speed on the vehicle’s radar.

Once the officer explains why they believe you were speeding, you’ll have to sign and accept the ticket. Signing doesn’t mean you’re admitting to guilt. You’re agreeing to pay the ticket or appear in court to dispute it.

Speed laws by state aren’t always clear and fall into one of three categories:

  • Absolute or maximum: You could get a speeding ticket if you drive faster than the posted limit, no matter what the reason is.
  • Prima facie or presumed: In this case, you are only presumed to be speeding. If you can prove in court that your speeding was safe, you should be found not guilty.
  • Basic: It is assumed you are driving at a safe speed according to your circumstances regardless of set limits.
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What to do if you get a citation or speeding ticket

If you’re pulled over for speeding, be calm and courteous. Try not to say much. Officers may ask you tricky questions that can be used against you, like if you were aware you were speeding or what you think the posted speed limit is.

If the officer doesn’t tell you, ask how they determined you were speeding. In some cases, you will need to appear in court if you were going more than 30 miles over the posted speed limit, ticketed for reckless driving or involved in a traffic accident.

Make notes later about everything you can remember, including date and time, surroundings, if there were any posted speed limit signs that may have been obstructed, etc.

Paying the ticket will be the easiest solution but may raise your insurance rates. If you feel the officer incorrectly ticketed you, you can choose to fight the speeding citation in court. At best, the officer that cited you doesn’t show up and the judge will dismiss the case. At worst, the judge will agree with the officer and you’ll be responsible for the ticket.

Can I negotiate a speeding ticket?

There are several ways to negotiate a speeding ticket:

  • When you get pulled over. If you’re calm and courteous, you can try to reason with the officer. It’s not illegal to plead your case of why you can’t afford a ticket or why you have a good driving record. Try to do so before the officer writes the ticket.
  • Before court. You might be able to request a “mitigation” negotiation before your court date where you admit to the violation and give the judge reasons why you should be given leniency. You may still have to pay the ticket, but it will not affect your record, or you may be asked to take a preventative driving course instead of paying the ticket or get a reduction of the fine.
  • In court. You can fight the ticket stating you’re not guilty or you can apologize to the judge, plead your case of why it was an error on your part and ask for a reduction in points and fine.
  • With your insurer. If you have a safe driving record and no other traffic violations, you can try discussing it with your insurer, who may forgive your speeding ticket and not raise your premiums.

How does a ticket impact your car insurance rate

Depending on your auto insurance company, your insurance rate could go up if you receive a citation. According to Allstate, some insurers won’t raise your rates if you’re over the age of 25 and haven’t had a similar violation in the past three years. If you’re concerned about the impact on your insurance rates if you get a ticket, shop around to find an insurer that won’t increase your premium for a first offense.

Too many driving infractions, especially if they result in your license being revoked or suspended, could also result in your insurer deciding to drop you. This can happen one of two ways.

If you’ve only had a few infractions but your license is still intact, you may get a notice of non-renewal from your auto insurer at the end of your policy period. This notice gives you advanced warning that you won’t be able to renew your policy for another term. However, if your license has been suspended, you could get a notice of cancellation from the insurance company. This can happen at any time during your policy.

Besides the expense of the fine, getting a speeding ticket adds points to your driving record. If you have multiple violations, you could lose your license. This traffic ticket calculator can show you how much your insurance could rise in price according to your state and violation.

Frequently asked questions

How much is a ticket for speeding?

Speeding ticket prices vary according to state and speed. According to Esurance, the average cost is $150. Your insurance rate may be affected by the speeding citation.

How much will my insurance go up after getting a speeding ticket?

Some insurers will not raise your premium if it’s your only violation. Others may only raise your rate if you were driving 15 miles over the speed limit. It’s best to compare insurers to make sure you’re with the most forgiving car insurance company.

Can going to traffic school help my insurance rates?

Earning a driving school certificate of completion will reduce the points on your driving record which will reduce the cost of your auto insurance. California will allow you to attend traffic school one time every 18 months. Texas allows drivers to attend traffic school once every 12 months. Your local DMV can give you all the information you need on how to remove points from your driving record.

Is a citation a ticket or a warning?

A citation is another word for a ticket and should be taken seriously. Failure to pay your citation could create bigger problems down the road.

What’s a citation vs. ticket?

A citation vs. ticket is the same term for a document explaining that you’re accused of committing a traffic offense, like speeding.

What happens if I don’t pay my ticket?

Not paying your speeding citation is serious. Your driver’s license can be suspended, a warrant for your arrest could be issued and you may end up having to pay additional fines and late fees.

Is a citation worse than a ticket?

There isn’t a difference between a citation vs. ticket. These are two words for the notice that is issued when you break traffic laws, typically resulting in a fine or court appearance.