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It was on my way to getting my photo taken as a columnist for the Globe Drive section that, ironically, I was nabbed for speeding.

I was moving with the traffic and sped up to get into the other lane as there was a car parked on the side of the road. I explained this to the officer, and he explained to me that radar only has to catch you speeding for a second for you to receive a ticket. I was not about to conduct a curbside trial, so I'll see him in court. To that end, I bought an e-book on how to beat traffic tickets.

A ticket isn't a ticket until you're convicted by the courts, or if you decide to accept "guilty" by paying for it. This ticket was only for $40 but it could cause my insurance rate to increase by up to $1,000.

If you ignore paying a traffic violation, your driver's licence will be automatically suspended. So don't throw out those traffic notices without opening them. If you're driving with a suspended license and have an accident, you could be denied coverage by your insurance company.

No one can predict when their tickets are going to set off an explosion that will send their insurance rates skyrocketing.

Generally, insurance companies don't make it a practice to order your Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) to see if you got any tickets in the past year on renewal, although they've been known to do spot checks. But more than likely, if you make a claim, the insurance company may order a MVR.

All insurance companies recognize minor, major and criminal convictions but charge dramatically different rates. Only half the insurance companies will increase your rate for one ticket, but all of them will increase your rate for only two minor tickets.

Accidents cause double jeopardy when it comes to your insurance because they usually include a ticket. The combination of tickets and accidents can be enough to cause your insurance company to cancel your policy. You may want to ask your company what its cancellation rules are when it comes to tickets and accidents. Every insurance company has different cancellation rules.

Here are some "ticket shockers" that could have the same effect on your insurance rate as a speeding ticket.

  • If your passenger is under 18 years old and not wearing their seat belt, the ticket is yours.
  • Burnt-out headlight.
  • Driving in the HOV lanes without a passenger.
  • Obstructing traffic (like the guy that parked in the lane that caused me to get that speeding ticket).
  • Driving too slowly.
  • Unnecessary noise.
  • Crowding the driver's seat.
  • Obstructed view.
  • Dirty licence plate (or no licence plate).

Tickets that don't affect your insurance are parking tickets and red light cameras (as they can't prove who was driving), or if your friend gets a ticket while driving your car. However, if they have an accident, it's yours.

So drive carefully, and don't explode if you're quoted a high insurance rate for a couple of tickets. Know that you can probably find a lower rate by using an online rate comparison guide.

Lee Romanov is an insurance consumer advocate and creator of www.romanovreport.com.