What’s the difference between a citation and a ticket?

There is no difference between a citation and a ticket in most states. These terms are used interchangeably to describe a violation of laws related to driving. Both traffic citations and tickets can increase your auto insurance rates. However, some companies don't increase rates for every type of citation. Compare multiple companies and shop around to find the most affordable auto insurance rates regardless of traffic tickets.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Jul 23, 2021

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  • Citation and ticket are used interchangeably.
  • Traffic violations increase your auto insurance rates.
  • Some companies don’t have a significant increase when you have a speeding violation on your driving record.
  • The Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange holds a copy of your insurance history and driving record.

There is no difference between a citation and a ticket in most states. These terms are used interchangeably to describe a violation of laws related to driving.

Both traffic citations and tickets can increase your auto insurance rates. However, some companies don’t increase rates for every type of citation. Compare multiple companies and shop around to find cars with the lowest insurance rates or other applicable personal lines insurance regardless of traffic tickets.

In most jurisdictions in the United States, there’s no difference between a traffic citation and a ticket when it comes to vehicle-related penalties. There isn’t a significant difference between a driving citation vs. a ticket.

The speeding citation is formal wording that demands you come to court, while a traffic ticket only requires that the driver will pay. If you want to fight a ticket, you can go to court. Either way, even the best auto insurers will increase your monthly rates for a traffic infraction.

What’s the difference between a citation and a ticket?

Therefore, a citation for speeding is the same as getting a ticket for speeding, but the rule says you must appear in court: same thing, different wording. When a police officer issues one, it comes with a fine and court appearance.

What is a ticket citation? It’s technically a ticket you get whenever law enforcement writes you a citation for speeding, DUI, or other traffic violation.

DUI or DWI can force you to appear in court and enter a plea. You may face more considerable fines or even imprisonment.

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What are violations vs citations?

While there’s no difference between a citation and a ticket, there’s a technical difference between violation and citation:

  • A citation charges you with one or more traffic violations. You may receive a citation or ticket for speeding.
  • A traffic violation is a specific rule you broke; if you were caught speeding, for example, then you ‘violated’ traffic rules by going over the speed limit.

If you commit a traffic violation, then you will receive a citation or ticket. The traffic citation meaning refers to the traffic law you are charged with breaking.

The citation also explains the next steps to take – like any court appearances you are required to make or fines you are required to pay.

Will a citation or ticket affect my auto insurance premiums?

Whether you call it a citation or a ticket, it can have a severe effect on your insurance rates. A single speeding ticket or DUI can cause coverage prices to rise 50% or more overnight, for example.

If you have received a traffic citation or a ticket, then you may want to compare car insurance quotes online today to ensure you continue paying competitive rates.

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rates by Driving Record
Driving Record SummaryAverage Monthly Auto Insurance Rates by Driving Record
Clean Driving Record$260
With One Speeding Violation$306
With One Accident$342
With One DUI Conviction$410
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If you have a clean driving history and receive a single citation or traffic ticket, then your premiums may not increase, especially if it’s a minor citation like a speeding ticket.

A more serious citation – like a DUI – will likely raise insurance premiums even if you have an otherwise clean driving record.

Should I switch to another auto insurance company?

When it comes to citation vs. ticket, insurance companies have different policies regarding which offenses affect your rates. Some insurance companies ignore all speeding tickets and ‘minor’ citations such as a parking ticket, for example, when calculating insurance premiums. Other insurance companies raise rates sharply after any citation or ticket.

Let’s review the cost of auto insurance by the company and driving violations.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Driving Record
CompaniesRates with a
Clean Record
Rates With
One Accident
Rates With
One DUI
Rates With One
Speeding Violation
Allstate$3,819.90$4,987.68$6,260.73$4,483.51
American Family$2,693.61$3,722.75$4,330.24$3,025.74
Farmers$3,460.60$4,518.73$4,718.75$4,079.01
Geico$2,145.96$3,192.77$4,875.87$2,645.43
Liberty Mutual$4,774.30$6,204.78$7,613.48$5,701.26
Nationwide$2,746.18$3,396.95$4,543.20$3,113.68
Progressive$3,393.09$4,777.04$3,969.65$4,002.28
State Farm$2,821.18$3,396.01$3,636.80$3,186.01
Travelers$3,447.69$4,289.74$5,741.40$4,260.80
USAA$1,933.68$2,516.24$3,506.03$2,193.25
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Ultimately, insurance companies have different policies regarding clean driving records. Some drivers lose their clean driving bonus after a single citation, as seen in the data above.

Others will have their premiums remain unchanged after a single citation. If your auto insurance company is trying to raise insurance premiums after a single citation, you may want to compare your current auto insurance companies with other providers. Check out our article to learn how to switch auto insurance companies.

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How do you lower auto insurance rates after a citation or ticket?

When you receive a citation or ticket for speeding, a moving violation, or reckless driving, it remains on your driving for at least three years. DUIs/DWIs, reckless driving, and accidents could last from eight to ten years on your driving record.

States keep a record of your driving history, but the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (C.L.U.E.) will hold a copy for your insurance record.

After three years, you may start to see a decrease in car insurance rates. If your rates don’t go down, you may want to look at another auto insurance company.

Do some jurisdictions have different definitions for citations and tickets?

Is a citation a ticket? In most cases, a citation and a ticket are the same when dealing with law enforcement officials and vehicles. However, some jurisdictions do have a difference between citation and ticket.

  • In some jurisdictions, a law enforcement official only gives a citation after the offender has received multiple tickets
  • In some jurisdictions, a citation requires the offender to appear in the court of law; with most tickets, however, the offender needs to pay a fine
  • In some jurisdictions, citations are only handed over for more severe violations like a criminal traffic ticket or repeated violations; if you have received multiple speeding tickets, for example, then you may receive a citation

Between citation vs. ticket, citations can be more serious than tickets in some jurisdictions. Citations may require an appearance in court, while a ticket can be paid by check or online payment.

In other jurisdictions, of course, a citation and a ticket have no discernible difference.

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What’s the bottom line?

There’s no difference between citation and ticket in most jurisdictions in the United States. The citation ticket meaning is the same thing as a citation or ticket. The two are the same thing: a citation or a ticket is a document explaining that you committed some traffic offense type, like a civil infraction for speeding.

A citation is more serious than a ticket in some places. However, a citation requires you to appear in a court of law while a ticket can be paid.

Let’s answer a few frequently asked questions related to citations and tickets.

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Frequently asked questions

#1 – How do you pay for a citation or ticket?

There’s a mailing address or website on the citation and ticket where you can send a payment.

#2 – What are the types of traffic citations?

There two types of traffic citations: non moving violation and moving violation. A non moving violation is a parking violation. Meanwhile, a moving violation could be something like a improper lane change or failure to yield.

#3 – Can you negotiate a lower fine when you get a citation or ticket?

Once you go to court and state your case, the judge will determine whether or not you will receive a reduced fine or sentence.

#4 – What do you if you receive a citation or ticket?

Don’t panic. If you believe you’ve done nothing wrong, go to court and explain your situation to the judge. They may see it your way. If not, you may have to pay a penalty or fine.

#5 – Does a citation or ticket put points on my driver’s license?

It depends. Reckless driving, DUI/DWI, or an accident could put points on your license. Each state is different, but you can receive two to four points for major traffic violations. Learn how to get points off your license.

But why wait for an increase? Car insurance companies aren’t concerned about the difference between a citation and a ticket when they issue an increase. Still, you can find many companies with more affordable auto insurance rates.

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