The True Cost of a Speeding Ticket by: Wayne Patterson
Have you noticed more autos on the side of the road with an officer issuing the driver a speeding ticket? Have you seen more trucks surrounded by DOT transport police? I sure have. There are several reasons for this increased activity.
One is that after 9/11 many departments have increased patrols. The additional police presence is to assure the public that efforts are being taken to prevent terrorist attacks like the recent sniper killings. The other reason is that cities and states are faced with budget deficits in these tough economic times. Since traffic tickets are a politically correct form of taxation, many jurisdictions are increasing fines as a means of balancing the books.
A traffic officer will cost his department the average of $75,000 per year while he can be expected to issue between $150,000 to $200,000 in speeding ticket citations. There are few businesses that can equal that rate of return. Some towns like New Rome, Ohio and Waldo, Florida take in over 70% of their entire town budget through speeding tickets.
What does this mean to you, the safe driver who has not received a traffic citation in years? It means that you are now more likely than ever to see those dreaded blue lights flashing in your rear view. If that does happen you need to know that the true cost of a speeding ticket has changed drastically in the last few years.
Consider Mary, a successful sales representative who enjoys the perk of a company car. She travels extensively and has received four speeding tickets in the last three years. She considers herself a safe driver and in each instance was traveling with the flow of traffic on the interstate. She has 9 out of the 12 points on her driver’s license. Imagine her surprise when her company’s insurance carrier refused to allow Mary to drive a company car. The company obtained supplemental insurance but Mary had to pay the extra $1600.
Then there is Jeffrey, a CDL truck driver from Ohio who is an independent operator and owns his own truck. He drives 150,000 miles per year and has five tickets on his record, none a serious violation. He is unable to obtain insurance that he can afford. He is in the process of losing his truck to the finance company and does not know how he will support his family.
Families with teenagers may face an economic disaster if the teen driver receives a citation. One traffic ticket for rolling through a stop sign could cost as much as $3000 in increased premiums over the three years it remains on their record. The insurance industry considers young adults as teenagers until the age of 23.
The purpose of relating Mary and Jeffrey’s stories is not for you to feel sorry for them. It is to impress upon you the severe consequences that may result from a traffic ticket. It is important to obey all traffic laws, not just for your physical protection but also for the health of your pocketbook. I have found that many people are more concerned about their pocketbook than their personal safety.
What should you do if you receive a citation? Never just pay a speeding ticket. Check with the clerk of court to see if you are eligible for traffic school, even if it is an out-of-state citation. Many states now accept online traffic school. Check to see if this is available in your state at http://www.trafficschoolonline.com/?lcode=4013
If traffic school is not available then you or your attorney need to appear in court to contest the speeding ticket. Hiring an attorney may be your cheapest option when you consider the additional cost of you insurance. Check with your insurance agent to find out the consequences of the original charge being entered on your driving record. The American Bar Association says: "The best way for the majority of Americans to be able to assure themselves of legal assistance when they need it... is through a prepaid legal plan." For nationwide legal services contact http://www.prepaidlegal.com/info/carolynpatterson
Drive safe and stay out of the "No Zone." Remember if you got it a truck brought it.
The author is not an attorney and this is not legal advice.
If you need legal assistance consult an attorney.