STOP! In the name of…

Running a Red Light, Stop Sign & Auto Insurance

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It’s a split second decision. The traffic signal a block or two ahead changes to yellow—you either hit the brakes to slow down or you speed up.
Approximately, 63 people die each month in the United States due to red light running crashes. Running a red light or failing to stop at a traffic sign is a dangerous and completely avoidable offense. There are rules on the road for a reason and disregarding them puts you and all other drivers at risk.

As a result, the fines and penalties for these traffic violations can be costly. Getting to your destination in a little less time is not worth a life and certainly not worth the hassle of dealing with an expensive fine and car insurance penalties. Take a look at these fines, penalties and consequences, and think twice the next time you see a yellow light.

These two offenses are typically grouped together as a ‘failure to stop’ violation, but not always. In some states, running a red light is seen as a more severe offense and may have more costly penalties.

Most Expensive Fines for Running a Red Light or Stop Sign

Did you know that there are 32 vehicle-to-vehicle conflict points in a standard four-way intersection? That’s a lot of possible collisions when a car runs a red light or when a driver fails to stop. That’s why the following fines aren’t cheap.

  1. Nevada: up to $1,000. Themaximum fine for running a red light or speeding is $1,000 in Nevada. The fine will differ county to county and is likely to be significantly lower, but that is the state fine.
  2. California: $480. Thebase fine is actually $100 but with all the other fees tacked on, the total cost rises significantly.
  3. InNew Orleans, Louisiana, the fine is $297.50 for running a red light. The fine for failing to stop at a stop sign is a little lower at $222.50.
  4. Oregon: $260. Running a red light in Oregon could hit you with a $260 fine and up to $520 if it occurs in a work, school or safety zone.
  5. InHouston, Texas, the fine window could be up to $235 and that’s if the incident occurred without causing any accidents.

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Red Light Cameras:

Many states have now installed red light cameras, which can make it easier for authorities to issue these fines. Currently, 24 states currently operate red light cameras. The automated enforcement technology takes photos of vehicles that fail to stop at traffic signals and then issues them a citation.

The cameras operate by taking photos or video of cars running red lights while failing to stop. Remember, a yellow light is the signal to clear an intersection, not a time to speed up through it and even for right turns on red, drivers must come to a full stop before turning.

The Effects of Running a Red Light or Stop Sign on Auto Insurance:

Here’s what could happen to your auto insurance after running a red light. Every auto insurer is different, so depending on your carrier, your rate increase may vary. In some cases, a single red light ticket may raise your premium, whereas for others, the rate may not rise significantly unless there is a repeat offense.

If the driver’s failure to stop led to further offenses, such as reckless driving or speeding, then your car insurance rate may rise more. Furthermore, if an accident occurred as a result, you can expect steeper consequences.
Depending on whether or not your state has a points system, you may face more expensive car insurance rates. For example, in the state of Utah, a red light offense will put 50 points on your driving record. If you receive more than 200 points in a 3-year period, your driver’s license may be suspended. A suspended license can lead to more expensive car insurance, as car insurance providers may see you as a riskier driver.

How to Bring Your Car Insurance Rate Back Down:

Fight it. Were there any witnesses? Do you have evidence? You may be able to fight a red light traffic violation in court if you have a case. Perhaps, the glaring sun blocked your view of a traffic light or you believe the officer was at an angle that did not offer a clear view. You may fight a ticket in court on your own or hire a lawyer. Keep in mind that court-related fees can be costly.
Wait it out. Traffic violations never disappear from your record. That said, auto insurance providers typically only look at your last 5 years of driving history to determine your risk profile, unless there is a major infraction. Waiting a few years may help your rates decrease, and it could also help reduce your points in a points system state.
Take a defensive driving or driver improvement course. Several states will allow you to take an approved defensive driving course in order to get rid of points. Driver improvement courses are usually affordable and worth taking for those who have received traffic violations. If you reside in a points system state, most programs will knock off some points from your record upon successful completion of the class. For example, in Georgia, 7 points may be cleared once every 5 years for taking an approved course. This could help you save on your insurance, especially if the point increase suspended your license. Defensive driving courses on their own can also provide car insurance discounts.
Shop around. Still unhappy with your rate? Try comparing quotes from different auto insurers. Not all carriers are the same and not all of them will determine your risk level in the same way. Check with different providers to find the best coverage for you.
Running a red light is unnecessary and dangerous behind the wheel. Follow the rules of the road and be a safe driver so you don’t have to deal with the fines, penalties or costly car insurance rates.

Recent Parking Ticket? READ THIS!

Parking Tickets & Auto Insurance

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We all know the feeling. You returned to your meter a few minutes late, but the reader turned red and there’s a bright orange ticket on your dash. Or you were stressed out driving in an unfamiliar city and parked illegally. There are quite a few reasons why you might end up with a parking ticket. Here’s what you need to know about how the violation will affect your car insurance.

Types of Parking Ticket Violations

A parking ticket may be issued for the following reasons…

  • Expired meter
  • Parking in a restricted area (commercial vehicles only, patrons only)
  • Double parking
  • Parking while blocking an intersection, fire hydrant, crosswalk, driveway or taxi zone
  • Parking too far from the curb
  • Otherwise parking illegally (disobeying street cleaning signs, snow parking bans, or no parking signs with designated hours)

 

Fines and Penalties for Parking Tickets

 

A parking violation may result in several penalties. Typically, a parking ticket has a fine that must be paid by a certain date. The fine varies from state to state, and may be as low as $30 in New Orleans, Louisiana and as high as $70 in San Francisco, California. Many states also add on late fees for missed payments, and fines may differ depending on the type of parking violation (blocking a fire hydrant versus double parking). If you fail to pay the ticket on time, you may face the following penalties:

  • A boot on your vehicle
  • Vehicle registration suspension
  • Towing and impounding of your car
  • Lower credit rating

Government parking tickets are often processed differently than private lot tickets. However, failure to pay either one will result in consequences. Private lots may refer you to a collection agency and that could damage your credit rating.

 

The Effect of Parking Tickets on Car Insurance

 

Parking tickets are not reported to your state’s DMV so they typically have a negligible effect on your car insurance. However, you must pay the ticket before it’s due. If the due date passes and you do not pay your parking ticket, you may face consequences that could include the suspension of your car’s registration or even your driver’s license. Such suspensions can lead to higher car insurance rates as insurers may see you as a high-risk driver. Furthermore, your current insurer may not offer to renew your policy which could make finding a new insurer more difficult

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How to Bring Your Rate Back Down

 

Knock off some points. If you have unpaid parking tickets or multiple violations and live in a state with a points system, you may have accumulated points on your driving record. To avoid rate hikes or a license suspension, reduce your points by taking a defensive driving or safe driving class. Some states will reduce your driver’s license points if you complete an approved course. They may also offer a discount.

 

Check with your agent to be sure you’re receiving all possible discounts. There may be savings available that you’re not even aware you qualify for. Be sure to mention alumni programs or other organizational memberships as even those can get you car insurance savings.

 

Contest the parking ticket. You can always appeal a parking ticket if you believe you weren’t in the wrong, but know that “I couldn’t find anywhere to park” and “I didn’t see a ‘no parking’ sign” is not a good enough excuse. If you stopped to avoid a collision, because of car trouble or due to health issues, you have a better chance of getting your ticket dismissed. Typically, you can contest a ticket by writing or calling the city hall where the ticket was issued. They may ask you to appear in court and request photos, car repair receipts or additional information.

 

Compare quotes. If you’re unhappy with your rate, you can always shop around. Auto insurers all determine premium prices and risk level differently. Check around to find the best coverage for you.

Recent DUI? READ THIS!

Car Insurance After DUI

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For many drivers, obtaining auto insurance is just another everyday fact of life that entails getting some quotes, comparing premium prices, and choosing the policy that will work the best for the coverage and protection that they need.
But for some people, it isn’t quite so easy. There are certain circumstances that can hinder your chances of getting affordable auto insurance – and in some cases, can make your chances of obtaining a policy extremely difficult. One such situation is a DUI.  While there is technology being developed to lower the number of drunk drivers, it is still a major problem in the United States.

 

States With the Harshest Penalties for DUI:

  1. Arizona: Jail for at least 10 days and a minimum of $1,250 fine (undergo education/treatment, perform community service, installation of an ignition interlock device and possiblelicense suspension)
  2. Alaska: Jail for at least 3 days and a minimum of $1,500 fine (minimum 90-day license suspension, possible alcohol treatment program)
  3. Connecticut: Jail for at least 2 days or up to 6 months and a $500 to $1,000 fine (45-day license suspension, possible community service, installation of ignition interlock device)

States With Lenient Penalties for DUI:

  1. Pennsylvania: No minimum jail time and a $300 fine, no license suspension
  2. South Dakota: No minimum jail time and a $1,000 fine, no ignition interlock device required, minimum 30-day license suspension
  3. District of Columbia: No minimum jail time and a $300 to $1,000 fine, no ignition interlock device required, 6-month license suspension

These penalties are for first-time offenders and typically become harsher for repeat offenders. Regardless of how lenient your state is; your insurer will not be. While there are some auto insurance companies that may “forgive” the first at-fault car accident or a first speeding ticket of its policyholders, no auto insurer will ignore a conviction that is as severe as a DUI. Driving under the influence is a very serious offense that can lead to harm of the driver, as well as to others. Therefore, auto insurers pose some serious consequences if you’ve been caught.
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The Effect of a DUI on Car Insurance:

There are typically two occasions when an auto insurance company will review a person’s driving record. These include at the inception of a new auto coverage policy, and at the renewal time for existing auto insurance policies. Therefore, if a DUI occurs right after the policy renewal for an existing auto policyholder, then there is a chance that the insured’s DUI may not be discovered for quite some time – provided that the state the person resides in does not require an SR-22 to be filed.

However, if the individual goes to apply for new coverage, then it is likely that the DUI will be uncovered when his or her driving record is reviewed at the time that the new coverage begins. In either case, if the DUI is discovered, it is likely that the individual’s auto insurance rates will increase – in some cases, dramatically – until the DUI conviction drops off of his or her driving record. In most instances, it will take at least 5 years for that to happen.

If an accident and / or a moving violation such as a speeding ticket also occurred along with the DUI, then these criteria will also be taken into consideration by the driver’s auto insurance company when determining the increased premium rate.
Further, when a driver has multiple driving-related violations within a short period of time, there is a likelihood that his or her driver’s license could be suspended, or even revoked, due to the number of points that are accumulated in a points system state.

Likewise, if a driver’s vehicle ends up being impounded following a DUI charge – especially following a DUI that results in the suspension or revocation of the driver’s license – this, too can lead to very high auto insurance premium rates.

What Is an SR-22 and Why Is It Required?

In most states, drivers who are convicted of a DUI will be required to file an SR-22 form with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. The SR-22 form is required proof of financial responsibility – and an insurance company must provide the SR-22 form to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The length of time that the SR-22 is required can vary from between one and five years. This will be dependent on the state in which the DUI took place. Most auto insurance companies will charge an additional fee for the filing of the SR-22, in addition to the higher auto insurance rates for the DUI itself. This is often very expensive. For example, in the state of Alaska, an SR-22 may cost you $2,000 for 5 years.
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How to Bring Your Rate Back Down:

Unlike other traffic citations, you can’t just pay a fine, drive safe and bring your car insurance rate back down. A DUI has major consequences on car insurance. That said, there are a few options drivers with a DUI can take. Some of these choices could help keep the driver’s auto insurance premium rates from increasing as high as they would otherwise with the DUI charge.

 

  • Fight the charge.While it’s unlikely that the charge will disappear, perhaps, you can fight for the DUI to be reduced to a reckless driving charge. However, remember that lawyers do cost money, and there’s no guarantee that the charge will be reduced. Furthermore, reckless driving is still likely to raise your auto insurance rate, though not as much as a DUI would.
  • Wait it out.Yes, it will take a while to wait out a DUI conviction, but that may be your only option. Research your state’s laws and talk to your insurer to find out how long a DUI will stay on your current record. The infraction will never truly “disappear” but some insurers only look at a certain number of years on a driver’s record.
  • Shop around.Go ahead and get a few car insurance quotes. Compare away, but remember that a DUI is a serious offense. Don’t expect to find a rate similar to your auto insurance premium before the conviction.
  • Take a safe driving course.Your state may already require you to join an alcohol education program, but you can also enroll in a safe driving course. Also known as a defensive driving course, these classes teach road safety and can demonstrate to your insurer that you are serious about being safe behind the wheel. A defensive driving course may also help reduce your points if your state is a “points system” state.

Considerations to Keep in Mind

If a driver with a DUI on his or her record is contemplating whether to keep current coverage with a rate increase or to obtain new coverage, there are some factors to keep in mind. First, obtaining new auto insurance following a DUI conviction is typically more of a challenge than just going with a rate increase on one’s current coverage.

 

For drivers who may still be considering a switch to a new auto insurance carrier for their coverage after obtaining a DUI charge, then it may be best to work with an independent insurance agent or company, or an insurer that specializes in high-risk drivers. Doing so will likely provide better available auto insurance coverage options.

The 20 year pitcher you never heard of…

LACHAPPA08 C# S BBO USA CAMatthew LaChappa wasn’t just born with a gift, he was born with a passion. All he wanted to do was play professional ball. In 1993 his dream would come true. He would be drafted by the now San Diego Padres and assigned to minor league ball. His dream had come true. That alone would make this story a great one, but not amazing, and definitely not insurance related.

“What happened just devastated so many people,” (Former Padres director of minor league operations Priscilla Oppenheimer) says. “Matt was looked up to by everyone in the community. When he signed, about half the tribe came in for the ceremony.”

In 1996, while warming up in the bullpen before what would have been his first game of the year coming in as a relief pitcher, LaChappa collapsed. He had suffered a heart attack. The Quakes trainer performed CPR on LaChappa for 20 minutes before an ambulance arrived to take him to a local hospital. His tribulation was not over yet.

While at the hospital, LaChappa would suffer a second heart attack.

Thankfully, after all the turmoil, LaChappa was able to pull through, and survive, however not without cost. He suffered permanent brain damage from the lack of oxygen and is mostly confined to a wheelchair.

You might think that’s the end of this story. So you may think that was the end of Matthew’s life. Or his tenure as a San Diego Padre. But you’d be wrong.

Without stepping onto the diamond for another pitch, LaChappa has remained on the roster for The Padres minor league baseball time for the last 20 + years and counting. The organization decided to continue his contract, so he would be able to continue his health insurance, something that the entire LaChappa family appreciates.

Nowadays, everybody talks about the statistics in baseball, and how it has all become a numbers game,” Eagle LaChappa said by phone. “But the Padres have been pretty special to him. They’ve said he’ll be a Padre for the rest of his life, and they’ve allowed him to keep a certain level of care.”

Throughout it all, Eagle and Matt have always remained positive. “He’s a great kid. He is confined to a wheelchair, has trouble communicating and is barely able to hold a spoon. But his mind is still as sharp as ever. He has an incredible sense of humor and is just a joy to be around.” Eagle LaChappa said that Matt watches the Padres regularly, and that “he loves when they win and hates when they lose.” The family has a relationship with equipment manager Tony Petricca, who helps arrange their visits to Petco Park. Especially during this time of the year, it’s always nice to hear inspiring stories of kindness, and in this case, health insurance has allowed Matthew to continue his passion and love for life, and baseball

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