As all American as pizza, the number of Driving under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) arrests may soon surpass the quantity of pizzas consumed daily in this country. It is prudent for every driver to make it a point to order driving records at least yearly to review their records for accuracy.
“Drunk driving, commonly known as DUI or DWI, led to an alcohol-impaired fatality every 51 minutes in 2012. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10,322 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes in 2012.” – Insurance Information Institute (February 2014 www.iii.org)
When it comes to buying car insurance, the cost to provide coverage rises astronomically for a person convicted of a DUI or DWI offense. When someone applies for insurance, the company automatically checks their driving history and classifies anyone with a DWI/DUI conviction as a high-risk driver, increasing the cost of the insurance coverage significantly, if the company is willing to insure them at all.
So many drivers ignore the importance of a seat belt – therefore often ignore the
seatbelt laws that are in effect in every state of the United States. Seat belt laws are
there to keep you safe, and without a great history of fatalities and injuries on roadways
that are related to the failure to put on a seatbelt, these laws would not exist.
Often times, drivers are under the false assumption that officers will not pull them over
just for their seatbelt being off – therefore, as long as they aren’t doing anything else
wrong, they feel they are safe from a ticket. This is a big myth that is completely wrong.
Officers will stop you just for not having your safety belt on, regardless of your speed or
any other factors. You could be driving up to par and with all other laws in regards, but if
you aren’t strapped in, you are committing a crime and will be stopped and ticketed.
A seat belt ticket may seem like no big deal, but the more you receive tickets, the more
money is coming out of your pocket and the more your driver record is affected. Why
even risk a perfect driving record for the failure to wear a seatbelt.
Statistics show that you are at a 20 times higher risk of injury or death just by not
wearing your seat belt when you get in your vehicle. Whether the driver or passenger
in the front or the back, the seatbelt is very important as it gives you the safety that you
need in the event of an accident. Without your seatbelt, there are several scenarios that
can occur, including:
Ejection from the vehicle
Impact with the windshield
Impact with other objects in the vehicle
Unconsciousness which impairs your ability to react
At the same time, you are responsible for those who are in the vehicle with you.
Whether a friend who is an adult or a family member who is a minor, their failure to wear
a seatbelt is reflected on you as you get the ticket and the fine and when it comes to
children, you can get a great deal of fines together. In fact, you can get several different
tickets if you have a minor in the vehicle who is improperly restrained by a safety belt,
as you are the responsible party and put them at a great risk by driving while they are
not in a seat belt.
When teen drivers are seeking their privilege to get on the road, they aren’t really thinking of the many dangers that they are taking on before them. Getting their license is all they think about, and the laws and rules are often the last thing on their minds. However, there are laws that are imposed on teen drivers that are much stricter than those for adults, ensuring that the many factors of teen driving mistakes and irresponsibility are taken into account before they are permitted to drive.
In New Jersey, there is a law mandating that all teen drivers under the age of 18 are only permitted to drive when there is no more than one passenger within the vehicle. Why this law is important is because teen drivers are the greatest risk to the roads, and if they have many passengers, not only is their attention diverted, but they are also putting many more lives at risk.
Sadly, a 17 year old driver, Casey Brenner, with 7 passengers within the vehicle recently crashed an SUV causing the death of the driver as well as 3 other passengers. This sad tragedy has brought much attention to this significant law to prohibit driving under 18 with more than one passenger present in the vehicle.
When first obtaining a license in New Jersey, until the age of 18, a restricted license is obtained, which prohibits more than one passenger in the vehicle during operation. However, disregarding this law, the young driver became another statistic in teen driving, and another lesson as to why the Graduated Driver’s License Law is so important, and even bringing question to any gaps or issues with the law that could be allowing more and more teens to become and help create new fatalities on the roadways.
The Graduated Driver’s License Law is now getting some great attention, making sure that the story of these teens doesn’t continue, although it is becoming a struggle to maintain accordance with this law by new teens anxious to get on the road and transport their pals around.
One lesson, however, that is learned through the incident is that these laws are created for a reason, therefore should be a main consideration before getting a license and behind the wheel. For these teens, there are no second chances, but for other teens in New Jersey, and throughout the U.S. as well, the chance is now to make the right decision and ensure that they too do not become a statistic of the road.
Virginia has recently introduced a hefty speeding ticket fine of $3550 or more based on the amount over the limit that a driver is ticketed for. This creates a great challenge for those motorists in the state that are common to speeding tickets and gives a great reason for drivers to be a lot more careful in watching their speed. This is a law that may seem a bit crude and outrageous, but it is creating safer streets, motivating drivers to slow down and follow the limits that are posted.
These fees are seen in hefty tax increases that are assessed to drivers of VA that are convicted of speeding in the state. This gives concern to these drivers, but the main method of avoiding such horrendous taxing on their yearly taxes is to avoid speeding, always follow the traffic laws, and maintain a quality driving record.
Even driving 15 MPH over the legal limit when driving on an interstate highway can bring 6 points on a license, with fines up to $2,500, with a year in jail possible and $1,050 assessed in taxes. This alone brings speeding over the limit by merely 15 MPH to a cost of $3,550 and a possible jail sentence. For drivers that are driving 20 miles or more over the speed limit, there is a charge of reckless driving, which is for all those motorists driving 80 MPH or more. While 80 may not seem to be a high speed, if you are in a zone that doesn’t permit 80, you are likely going to jail for reckless driving. You will also have to pay $350 for 3 years following with fees that can go well over $3000 in total.
This is a law that is gaining a great deal of attention as drivers are wondering whether it is even constitutional to gain such a great revenue from tickets alone. Why should motorists have to pay nearly $4,000 for going merely 15 MPH, with yearly assessed taxes as well? Well, the reason is to keep speeders off the roadways and keep those drivers that are following the rules safe. It is to encourage those who think they will get away with speeding to not even try as there can be great penalties for doing so – so much that it could affect your lifestyle for years afterwards. With the new fines and penalties imposed, drivers are thinking twice about putting the pedal to the metal.
Imagine: It’s a rather common day and you’re running around town, knocking errands off your to-do list when all of a sudden, you see an array of bright, flashing lights as you stroll through one of the same intersections you drive through every day.
You think to yourself, “I don’t think we were expecting a lightening storm!” and then you realize that you probably set off the flashes at a red light camera. Paranoid, you go online to do some research about how long it takes for them to send you a ticket, and how much it’s going to cost you.
You wait and wait and about a week later, you get a fancy $500 notice in the mail with several pictures of you with the surprised “flash” face as you made your way into the intersection, only milliseconds after it had turned red. How can this be? You were sure you didn’t run that light!
Sound familiar? If you drive in one of the 70+ cities in California that operate red light camera systems, it’s very likely that you have experienced a similar situation, or know someone who has. Red light cameras bring millions of dollars in every year to the cities and camera companies. There are many different conspiracy theories on them, but we’ve got the inside scoop on exactly how they’re run, and how you can avoid the headache of a ticket.
A Brief History
The first red light camera systems began as early as the 1960’s and are said to have been introduced into the United States by the 1980’s. Currently, red light camera systems are run in 25 states across the US. Fines generated by citations differ from state to state, but are as high as $500 in California. Supporters of the systems uphold that the cameras are designed to reduce the number of accidents at selected intersections, but some studies contradict that claim. Opponents argue that the systems are run as a revenue generator and have little to no affect on accident reduction. It’s an on-going debate as to whether red light cameras violate constitutional laws protecting the public.
How They Work
If you haven’t already figured out, red light cameras are designed to capture photos of red light runners. More specifically, they’re installed at specified intersections to capture red light runners turning right without stopping completely (or making illegal right hand turns), turning left on red, or going straight through the intersection on a red. The cameras are placed on the corners of the intersection and are activated by induction loop sensors embedded under the road which create a magnetic field around the entrance to the intersection. When a vehicle enters the magnetic field at a speed in which it detects that you will run the light, it causes the camera systems to activate and begin recording the incident. Pictures are taken of the vehicle entering and leaving the intersection, and of the driver’s face and the vehicle’s license plate.
The photos are gathered by the police department and are then reviewed by an officer. If the officer determines that the driver did apparently commit a violation, they will send the ticket to the owner on the vehicle’s registration and file it with the courthouse to follow up. In California, the police department must issue the ticket within 15 days of the date of violation. The California court system allows defendants to contest the alleged violation in a court trial or trial by written declaration (trial by mail).
Many argue that the officer who issues the ticket and testifies in court to a disputed case is not the proper person to present the photographic evidence, since he or she is not an expert in the camera systems.
The company that owns and operates the cameras contracts with the city to operate a ticket-based red light camera program. In California, cities are bound by a vast multitude of rules and regulations when operating a red light camera program.
For example, when installing a new red light camera at an intersection, the program must follow a 30 day warning period at that intersection before issuing actual citations to violators. The city must also make proper public announcements when installing cameras at new approaches and intersections. The law requires for there to be proper signs placed at each intersection’s approach, even if the intersection has a camera at only one approach, or for the city to have proper signs at each city entrance, indicating the use of red light camera systems within the city.
If the city is not in full compliance with each regulation, their red light camera program might be deemed illegal by the judge, as has been in the case of many cities, such as Napa in 2011 when the judge deemed that the “cost neutrality” clause in the cities’ contract with the camera company was unconstitutional.
How to Avoid Them
Undoubtedly, the best way to avoid a red light camera ticket is to come to a complete stop before the limit line before the light turns red.
It’s very common for drivers who are making a right on red (which is legal in California, unless otherwise noted) to slow down, look, and turn if no one else is coming.
California vehicle code 21453(a) stats that a driver “shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection.” Red light cameras are designed to capture drivers who turn right without completely stopping before the limit line.
A huge percentage of red light tickets that are issued are for this violation, and cost as much as if the driver blew straight through the light.
Opponents use this information to support their claim that red light cameras are simply revenue generators, arguing that making a right on red without stopping completely is not as dangerous as blowing straight through the light. Legislators in the past have tried to pass laws that separate the two incidences into two separate violations, with right on reds being less expensive than runners driving straight through the light. As it stands, the two incidences result in the same fine, and the same violation.
If You Get a Ticket
Although California’s red light camera ticket fines are debatably expensive, the California court system does make it fairly easy to contest a ticket through a trial by written declaration. This option allows drivers to contest their case through the mail, and gives drivers who are found guilty a second option to fight it in court through a trial de novo.
Many people who have received red light camera tickets have decided to contest their ticket, not because they didn’t think they ran the light, but because they simply couldn’t afford the high fines and insurance hikes from the potential point placed on their record.
Many feel that the cameras are unconstitutional and violate their rights as citizens with being recorded on camera. Until the vast majority of lawmakers and government authorities can agree that this is the case, red light camera systems will continue to be a multi-million dollar revenue source for cities.
Sara Schoonover is Vice President of Ticket Kick a California company that helps drivers get red light camera tickets and other traffic tickets dismissed by helping drivers through the trial by written declaration process. The company, which formally launched in 2010 after providing similar services since 2006, is the leading company in this space and growing rapidly. You should also get a copy of your DMV driving record at 4SafeDrivers.com.
September 21, 2011
Got a traffic ticket? Thinking about just paying it and taking traffic school? Think again. In July, California Assembly Bill 2499 went into affect, changing the scene in the courtroom of who may be able to attend traffic school to keep their driving record clean. Lets start with the basics, and go into how this new law can affect you as a driver.
What is traffic school?
Traffic school is a government regulated program designed to teach people how to become safer drivers. When you get a traffic ticket, the court might make a deal with you: take a traffic school course and they’ll keep a point off of your record. The point system is a way for the DMV and insurance companies to determine how risky you are on the road. Three points in 3 years on your record could mean suspension of your driver’s license, and insurance hikes of 20% or more, not to mention unhappy letters from the DMV.
What is the new law all about?
Before AB 2499 went into effect, the judges were allowed to grant traffic school to just about anyone at their discretion. The new law prohibits judges to approve traffic school unless the driver meets specific eligibility requirements outlined in the law as follows: Only non commercial drivers who have not previously attended traffic school in the last 18 months may be allowed to attend. Once you take traffic school, you will not be granted it again if you get another ticket within 18 months. Period.
This rule goes for drivers who get more than one ticket in more than one county or courthouse. The California court system now has a more solid way of communicating with each-other on who has or hasn’t attended. You simply cannot fall through the cracks of the court anymore. Fighting it may seem more appealing now.
The term “clean driving record” no longer applies with traffic school
It used to be that when you attended traffic school, you obtained a ticket dismissal on your driving record as if it never existed. Now, a violation will still appear on your record as “confidential,” but not as a point. The only way to actually keep your record clean if you get a ticket is to try to fight it and have it completely dismissed within the court’s records.
A comparison analysis of what a ticket could cost you
Lets look at a few options you have when you get a traffic ticket and what could be the related costs in terms of traffic school:
Plead guilty, pay the fine, accept the point.
California imparts some of the highest fines associated with traffic tickets. The average speeding ticket fines in California can be anywhere from $250-$400. The all-too popular redlight cameratickets cost about $500. Then there’s the insurance rates. One insurance company said that they automatically raise rates 20% if they see two tickets within three years or for a suspension due to any unresolved tickets. That’s hundreds of dollars more per year in insurance hikes. Yikes!
Plead guilty, pay the fine, attend traffic school.
If you choose to request traffic school and are approved, you’d be looking at paying your ticket fine, paying the court’s traffic school fee (generally another $60), and then paying the actual traffic school. You’d be saving money in any future insurance hikes but you’d be looking at initially forking out close to $1,000 depending on your violation, and using up your traffic school option for the next year and a half.
Plead not guilty, fight the ticket
The California court system makes it fairly easy to contest a traffic ticket through a trial by written declaration (trial by mail). If you fight your ticket and win, not only do you save on the ticket fines, but you eliminate the need to attend traffic school therefore saving those related costs. If you fight your ticket and lose, you’re back to square one and can then resort to traffic school.
Some estimates say that over 16 million traffic tickets are given out in California every year. Many people still choose the route of paying their ticket and attending traffic school. For many, it may seem like the easiest way, but now with stricter restrictions on traffic school eligibility, and with the high ticket fines that most people simply cannot afford in today’s economy, many are re-thinking pleading guilty and actually trying to beat traffic tickets.
Sara Schoonover is Vice President of of Ticket Kick, a California company that helps drivers get red light cameratickets and other traffic tickets dismissed by helping drivers through the trial by written declaration process. The company, which formally launched in 2010 after providing similar services since 2006, is the leading company in this space and growing rapidly.
How to Get a Ticket Dismissed (Almost) Every Time
Have you ever known someone who received a traffic ticket? Chances are, you’ve heard your friend complain about the speeding ticket he got last week. He was only doing 80 with the flow of traffic, how could the cop write him a ticket! Or, how about your aunt who received one of those red light camera tickets in the mail claiming she didn’t stop completely before making a right on a red. She was sure she stopped that day, but now she faces a $500 ticket fine that she can’t afford since her husband was recently laid off, and she really doesn’t want to deal with fighting it in court.
These circumstances make us really start to appreciate living in California (or the few other states with a similar court system). Our courts make it fairly easy for drivers to fight their traffic ticket…and win! Most people think that their only option to fight their ticket is to go to court, wait in line, and plead their case in front of an intimidating judge only to be found guilty and left with few options but to just pay it off and drive really carefully for the next three years. But there is another option that most people seem to overlook-it’s called the trial by written declaration and it allows drivers to contest their ticket through the mail without ever having to appear in court. In fact, you will find information for the trial by written declaration right on the back of your ticket.
What kind of tickets are eligible for a trial by written declaration?
Just about every traffic infraction with a California vehicle code that is not past-due is eligible for a trial by written declaration, i.e. speeding tickets, stop sign tickets, red light tickets, red light camera tickets, cell phone tickets, tail-gaiting, etc. The trial by written declaration forms can be downloaded from most court websites. Some courthouses have their own policies for filing a trial by written declaration, so be sure to check your court’s website or contact them for specific instructions.
For those who doubt, there are several benefits to pursuing a trial by written declaration.
● It’s convenient. No long trips to the courthouse. No waiting in lines.
● It allows for a comprehensive written argument based on well prepared legal research.
● It’s a great place to start, assuring that if you are found guilty, you would then have the option for a trial de novo (retrial) or the opportunity to request traffic school. It’s a no-brainer to give it a shot.
1. It’s effective.The officers are required to write in their statement but they don’t get paid to do so, so generally they don’t have a huge incentive to write a lengthy statement against you.
So what do you write in your trial by written declaration, anyhow?
Here’s an insider look at how one of the top legal companies in California formulates defenses for their drivers. Greg Muender, president and founder of TicketKick shares his tips:
● Become fully aware of what you’re dealing with. Research what the law says about your violation, break it down, and find the loopholes that apply to your case. For example, red light camera law establishes lengthy requirements that cities must abide by in operating the camera systems. Use public resources to determine if all requirements have been met.
● Research similar published cases (case precedent) and cite them when applicable.
● Stick to the facts about your case. Do not formulate any excuses about why you did whatever you did. Do not admit guilt.
● Remember, the trial by written declaration is a legal document which leaves no room for spelling or grammatical errors. If your statement includes legal jargon, including cited case precedent, be sure to use it properly and authoritatively.
● Identify the ways that you are not guilty, and use that as a foundation to convince the judge why he should dismiss the case.
With ticket fines higher than ever, and the average speeding ticket costing between $250-$400 and everyone’s favorite red light camera tickets about $500 a pop, the trial by written declaration has proven to millions of drivers to be an effective way to beat traffic tickets, saving drivers hundreds of dollars in ticket fines, adding no points to their record or raising insurance rates, and saving the time and hassle it takes in going to the courthouse or taking traffic school.
Drivers that do not have demerit points on their licence will be able to enjoy cheaper car insurance, following the introduction of new rules that allow insurance companies to look into a motorists history.
It was confirmed by the Insurance Federation (IF) that when insurers are given access to probe the details of a drivers history, there would be a reduction in the cost of premiums for the safest drivers on the road.
However, the Government do not have the legal powers to make insurance companies lower their prices, instead it is hoped that safe drivers will be rewarded when companies have access to their driver history database.
Dangerous drivers or those with demerit points on their licence are to be penalised for the reason they have incurred penalties, rather than just for the number of points they have, which is the system currently used. Certain offences will be weighted to incur a higher premium, such as speeding, careless or dangerous driving and being behind the wheel whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Chief Executive of the IF, said, “Although people are asked to disclose points and convictions, we believe more than 50 per cent of people don’t. We want information on road risk and the attitude to driving. People with no points are paying the same as people with points. By getting more accurate information, safer drivers will pay less. If you’re charging 50 per cent more to people with six points, you can reduce premiums for people with none.”
The main part of getting your driver’s license is the studying and practice, as when it comes time to be licensed, a road exam is required. The road exam is not only important, but can be quite a challenge for the first time, bringing forth great anxiety and a lot of things to think about.
If you are approaching your road exam appointment and want to be sure that you know what to do to pass, make sure you follow these simple tips that can make all the difference for you as a new driver.
- Take practice time seriously. Even though you have your learner’s permit and the privilege to drive supervised, it doesn’t mean that you should neglect this time as the perfect opportunity to get the practice you need for your driver’s test behind the wheel.
- Study your driver’s manual. This publication is perhaps one of the most important to new drivers, and tells you everything you need to know about driving, road signs, signals, and your rights and responsibility as a driver.
- Make sure you listen to instruction. The testing instructor will provide you with the instructions for completing the road exam. This will include various moves and more. If you want to pass your road exam, it is best that you are paying good attention as you are being scored as you go.
- Pay attention to all signs and signals. While the instructor is providing you with direction for the test, you are still expected to know the signs and signals intended for you, while following them. The instructor will pay attention to how well you can do this, grading you the entire time.
- Follow the speed limit regardless of signage. It is your responsibility to also follow the speed limit, regardless of whether or not there is posting. Your driver’s manual will provide the basic rules for speed limits in different types of areas.
- Provide enough room between yourself and other drivers. There is no tailgating allowed, as it is a ticketing offense. If you are doing your road exam, however, you want to garner a bit more room between drivers in front of you, which should be between 3 and 4 car lengths.
- Calm down. The worst thing you could do is be anxious while taking your road exam, as it causes you to be more prone to accidents and mistakes. If you are taking your test, take some time to calm down and get more acquainted with the process in order to be sure that nerves don’t defeat you in the end.
Your driver’s test is quite important; therefore you want to take the time to make sure that you are ready, prepared, and able to complete your exam as successfully as possible. Remember that you should drive just like you would if you were licensed, as every move you make counts as you take your test, even the braking of the car and how hard you push them.
When it comes to auto insurance, every driver is looking for the best discounts. When it
comes to those safe drivers, however, those discounts are well deserved and should be
obtained from their providing company. That is why State Farm is implementing a new
program that can help reduce auto insurance rates for those who are genuinely good
drivers – and not going by word of mouth either.
Starting in Illinois for 2011 and beginning within other states during 2012, there is a
State Farm In-Drive program that is going to ensure that those that are driving safely
are also taking advantage of cheaper auto insurance that they have earned through
better driving practices. Drivers will be given a little black box type of device that is
connected to your vehicle’s computer, which will then collect data that includes your
speeds, turning, stopping and accelerating, and other details that can determine the
safety of the driver.
With this program, drivers who agree to install the device are given as much as 50%
off their insurance premium, introducing rates that are much lower than typical and can
save hundreds in insurance costs each year.
This program is definitely not for everyone – as it is intended for safe drivers to prove
to insurance companies that they really are safe drivers and therefore deserve the
savings being offered. This is similar to some programs called “pay as you drive” in
which a similar device is installed and tracks the miles you drive to inform the insurance
company of the appropriate amount to be charged. Instead, the device installed will
track your habits, determining for the insurance company whether or not you deserve a
safe driver’s discount that many drivers these days are after.
So, if you are in Illinois, you can get a device installed from State Farm and begin
saving more money than you ever thought in auto insurance. If you are in other states,
you can prepare for 2012 to bring about the opportunity to save more than half of your
auto insurance premiums – if you are able to maintain safe driving habits.