Insurance Rates and Traffic Violations

Interviewer: So, will only one traffic infraction, let’s say that carries one point, and will it significantly affect your insurance rates?

Mark: The answer is yes. There are times where if you have a clean record for ten years, you’ve been with the same company, where your agent might say, “Okay, we’re going to write this off or we’re going to ignore this.” But the fact of the matter is that most of the time that’s not going to happen.

Most of the time you’re going to lose your good driver’s discount and you’re going to be paying a significantly higher rate. You can actually go to the California Insurance Commissioner’s website, they have a great comparison between some of the different insurance companies.

You can type in your information and, say for example, if you have between 9 and 15 years of driving experience, you live in Bakersfield, California. You’re a male, and you have no tickets on your record for the last three years. You’re looking at GEICO, 21st Century and AAA, and then you get one more ticket over a three-year period, that one ticket is going to cost you $2,000 on average.

Between those three top insurance providers you’re looking at an increase from just a regular speeding ticket, maybe going 10 miles an hour over, to $2,000 over a three-year period, because you’ve gone from a clean record to one ticket.

An Attorney Can Help Mitigate Insurance Rate Raises

Interviewer: Wow, so it’s definitely worth it to hire an attorney for probably half that or less to defend the ticket?

Mark: Sometimes you’ll talk to insurance agents and they’ll say, “Yes we’re not going to put this on your record. You’ve been a great customer and we’re not going to do that.” Then you’ll get another ticket and then they’ll say, “Well, I’m sorry, we can’t forgive two tickets.”

So the next thing you know, instead of having one ticket against your record, they’re probably going to count them both now. So you’re probably looking at even more than $2,000, so that’s why it’s best at the very beginning to take care of business.

Ways to Defend a Ticket Issued from a Red Light Camera

Interviewer: Can you explain what can happen with red light camera tickets? Can you fight them and are they legitimate?

Mark: Okay, in Bakersfield there are a lot of red light camera tickets. Many people contact me and say, “I got this mailing from the Bakersfield Police Department,” or from the company in Arizona that runs the cameras. The mailing has a number of questions, and statements including, “saying that I have been I have been identified, that my car has been identified, and I need to send back something the video says without admitting guilt, I am the driver, or I was not the driver. The name of the person who was actually driving my vehicle.”

Just to let you know, this is what they call a snitch ticket. You have not actually been charged with running a red light at this point. What basically has happened is that they’re trying to figure out who the driver was and to confirm that. It’s probably because either the picture was not that great OR it doesn’t really look like you and so they’re trying to figure out who it is so that they can match their driver’s license.

Read the Notification – You May Not Have Been Charged

You’ve not been charged with anything, you have no legal obligation to respond to that snitch ticket. Just ignore it. The clue that you’ve got to look for is if it lists the contact information for the local court and says you need to contact that court by a certain date. In that case, then you have been charged, but if that information is not on the ticket, you have not been charged.

There are defenses available if you do get a legitimate red light ticket. These are the ones where they charge you and give you a date. In this case, you would want to contact me because there are several due process arguments that can be made.

Defenses

For instance, sometimes I have gone in and found on the video that there was justification for the driver to have gone through the light. It could have been an instance where somebody was tailgating them or somebody went through after them, and if they would have hit the brakes, they would have caused an accident.

There are also ways to try to work it out and reduce it to a non-point violation like a parking ticket or something of that nature. This would keep the infraction off your record, so there are a lot of different things that can be done about a red light camera ticket.

Don’t just react if you get something in the mail that has a picture of you driving and say, “Oh my word, I’m guilty,” and then send in the money. It could have long-term consequences on your insurance rates. Like I said, the $2,000 on average from GEICO, 21st Century and AAA from having just one ticket on your record over a three-year period.

Interviewer: Could people just take a picture of the ticket with their cell phone and text it to you? Then you could get right back to them and tell them if they’re having a problem or not, or if they need help?

Mark: Yes, particularly if it’s an iPhone or if it’s a Droid. If it’s a high-quality picture, I can oftentimes tell them if it’s a legitimate ticket. I can also walk them through some of the other scenarios just based on what they send me.

By Mark Bigger