Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ithaca Cortland Lawyer Why Sometimes the Need for Speed is Costly

As a traffic lawyer I handle a great many speeding tickets, and other assorted violations in upstate New York. The signs (speed limits) change frequently from the lows of 15mph in school zones to the highs of 65mph on some of our faster byways. It is easy to get caught in a hazy daze with your mind endlessly wandering and wondering when am I gonna get there? It all starts to look the same, mountain, grass, cow, mountain, grass, cow, oh a gas station. You can completely zone out, like being hypnotized. Steuben County has town after town like this, just rolling along the freeway, you must be careful not to get lulled to sleep.

Whether you are from Canada or Utah it is easy to go fast without realizing it, especially on beautiful roads with bucolic scenery. Suffice it to say driving through the center of NYS on Interstate I-17/86 can get boring, you just want to get there, wherever there is.

Recently, the New York Times did an article on the real costs of moving violations to your auto insurance. What will a speeding ticket cost you in the long run? But more importantly they highlighted that many moving violations have varying effects upon your auto premiums.

1. Auto Insurance rates, terms, coverages are STATE/LOCATION SPECIFIC.

Remember that car insurance is always state specific, in fact they are location specific. So someone from California may generally pay more than someone from Mississippi. Then they will figure where in that state, which county, then city location or rural location, higher population versus lower population. Areas with more people usually pay more because they naturally are more accidents. Is the car to housed in a garage or at an apartment complex on the street? So the first factor you may have little to no control over. You live where you live, and you reside where you reside, end of that story.

2. Auto Insurance companies consider both your FINANCIAL HISTORY AND DRIVING HISTORY. 

The insurance companies believe that issues in managing finances (loans, debt, bankruptcy) reflect poor decision making or impulsivity. BTW Interestingly many DWI and other criminal cases involving drugs require a drug/alcohol assessment (diagnosis, recommendation). The most current drug/ alcohol evaluators are now using assessment questionnaires that involve this impulsivity connection to food, sex, gambling, and money to determine a potential link to drug addiction behavior or issues as well. The NYS DDP (drinking driver program) uses a type of self test that reflects this paradigm as well. The goal to to weed out the real problem drivers (DWI re-offenders). All this is based upon research in Sweden that discovered a specific personality type that has more severe problems with drugs and alcohol.

  • Hubicka, Beata, et al. "Personality traits and mental health of severe drunk drivers in Sweden." Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology (2009). Web. 3 September 2010
Your FICO is linked to your Insurance Costs

This is why your FICO score can, and will impact not only your ability to get money (credit, loans, mortgage) but also your ability to get less expensive insurance on your home and/or car. The powers that be believe that poor money management (decision making) is directly linked with your ability to assess and gauge other life risks, like driving responsibly.

In the same respect your driving history will be looked at before you are given an insurance premium quote. Those with histories of bad driving which include "at fault" property damage accidents, accidents with personal injuries, lapses in insurance coverage, and/or moving violations will pay higher costs. In addition, they will receive less coverage with more cost. They may not even get the best (AAA rated carrier) to offer them coverage but a company with a low to poor rating on accepting claims.

This next table was taken from the analysis of driving history and rate increases over a two year time period.

1. Reckless driving: 22 percent (this is misdemeanor crime in NYS, typically involving driving erratically in areas where people are present, like on sidewalks)

2. Driving while under the influence: first offense: 19 percent (this is a unclassified misdemeanor in NYS called DWI. In New Jersey, first time and second time DUI are merely traffic violations)
3. Driving without a license or permit: 18 percent (another criminal misdemeanor in NYS called AUO 3rd, aggravated unlicensed operation)

4. Careless driving: 16 percent

5. Speeding 30 m.p.h. over the limit: 15 percent (this is 6 point ticket in NYS, at 31MPH over NYS classifies as a 8 point violation , at 11 points you are suspended)

6. Failure to stop: 15 percent
7. Improper turn: 14 percent
8. Improper passing: 14 percent
9. Following too close/tailgating: 13 percent (this is one of many enumerated "serious" traffic violations in NYS and a four point ticket)

10. Speeding 15 to 29 m.p.h. over limit: 12 percent (this is another "serious" traffic violation in NYS)

11. Speeding 1 to 14 m.p.h. over limit: 11 percent (1 to 10mph over is a 3 point violation and at 11mph over the limit the punishment hits 4 points.

12. Failure to yield: 9 percent
13. No car insurance: 6 percent
14. Seat-belt infractions: 3 percent

In NYS, companies can increase your insurance premiums for three years (look back period) after their discovery. I have blogged previously about which specific violations these are:

New York State Insurance Law § 2335 can be complicated to read and understand. 
It loosely states that an insurance company CANNOT raise your premiums if you have a traffic infraction

UNLESS it is one of the following situations:

1. speeding more than 15 miles per hour;
2. reckless or speeding resulting in a death;
3. 3 speeding tickets;
4. driving drunk (DWI) or impaired (DWAI);
5. leaving an accident w/o reporting it;
6. racing/speeding contests or running from the police;
7. 2 or more moving violations.

TAKEAWAY:  You should preserve your record and reputation by lessening any tickets (driving violations) any where they may occur because if you figure the long term costs, an average increase of 15% to 20% over the long haul could amount to hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., J.D.

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850