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What a big ticket does to your car insurance

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CarInsurance.com

Speedometer

Texas is a long way across, and the state allows speed limits of up to 85 mph on its most remote stretches of highway. The Texas Highway Patrol last year wrote 3,726 citations for drivers traveling a speed of 100 mph or more.

In July, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety ticketed 21 motorists for driving more than 100 mph. One driver was going 135 mph.

More than 300 drivers in Chicago clocked in at 40 mph or more over the posted limit in 2010.

We are a nation with a heavy right foot. But some of us have feet made of lead.

Not all speeding tickets are created equal. The heavier that lead foot gets, the more severe the consequences. In such cases, your speeding fine will be the least of your worries.

Get tapped for a 100-mph ticket, and in many states you'll automatically face a reckless driving charge. Several states levy hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in administrative fees and penalties.

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And your insurer will react exactly as you'd expect: with a dramatic increase in your car insurance rates.

Speed increases the distance a vehicle travels before its driver can react to an emergency, and it increases the distance needed to stop once a driver can hit the brakes. And it greatly increases the amount of energy released in a collision. When impact speeds rise from 40 mph to 60 mph--an increase of 50 percent--the force generated increases by 125 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Speeding was a factor in 31 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths in 2009, the IIHS says. That's 10,591 deaths related to speed.

Fast times, big fines

It would be impossible to tell you how much any given ticket might cost you. It varies with the laws of the state, the jurisdiction within the state and even the mood of the specific officer who pulled you over.

In most states, the fee associated with a speeding ticket increases in proportion with the degree to which you are exceeding the speed limit.

At the low end, there is great tolerance. For instance, you may get off with a warning or a small fine if you're driving 52 in a 45 mph zone. Texas won't put any points on your license for infractions less than 10 percent over the speed limit, and insurers generally don't penalize you for a single minor violation. At worst you might lose your good driver discount.

Of course, it also matters where you speed. Keep yourself in check in school zones and construction zones, or expect hefty fines.

On the upper reaches of your speedometer, your wallet becomes fair game.

Georgia last year passed a law targeting "super speeders." Who is a super speeder? Anyone caught driving more than 75 mph on a two-lane road or 85 mph on a freeway. Those drivers get to pay an additional $200 on top of the speeding ticket fine (which can reach $1,000 all by itself). Tennessee is reportedly considering a similar law.

When speeding becomes something else

At a certain point, you're not getting a ticket for speeding anymore.

In California, if a driver is caught at a speed above 100 mph, the infraction becomes a misdemeanor and possibly a reckless driving citation, says Pete Moraga, spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California. Being caught at that speed also results in an automatic suspension of the driver's license for up to 30 days, a stiff fine and 2 points on the driver's record. Four points in 12 months will also result in suspension.

Speeds that are de facto reckless driving include:

  • Over 80 mph in Virginia, North Carolina and Hawaii
  • Over 85 mph in Oregon, Connecticut and Arizona
  • Over 100 mph in Minnesota and California.

Other states look at how much you're over the posted limit before labeling you reckless, ranging from 15 mph over the limit in Arkansas to 36 mph over in North Dakota.

In all states, your license can be suspended or revoked if you have enough points on your record or the offenses are severe enough. Some states up the ante by charging drivers with bad records an annual "driver responsibility fee."

At least four states--Michigan, New York, New Jersey and Texas--charge an annual fee to drivers with excessive points. In Michigan, drivers face yearly fees that range from $100 a year for seven moving-violation points to $1,000 a year for a DUI. Other states' programs are structured similarly.

Then there's the issue of being tossed in jail: Half of the states allow for jail time for speeding, with the maximum sentence ranging from three days in Nebraska and Washington, D.C., all the way up to a year in many others. In general, jail time is completely up to the judge in any particular case.

Higher speeds, higher car insurance rates

The nature of the offense determines the impact on your car insurance coverage, says Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

"A higher-speed ticket often includes additional charges, such as reckless driving, that also carry higher points," she says. The citation "will likely affect your insurance premium and could even result in you losing your insurance, particularly with a preferred company that may consider you too high a risk."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the cost of speed-related crashes is more than $40 billion each year.

To get an idea of what a Dukes of Hazzard-quality ticket does to your car insurance premiums, we ran insurance quotes for a 23-year-old male driving a 2011 Honda CR-Z, comparing rates for drivers with no violations to rates for drivers with a single speeding ticket for 20 mph or more over the limit.

We also ran quotes adding a prior violation, assuming that if you just got busted for 100-mph-plus, it's probably not your first rodeo.

A single violation 20 mph or more over the limit is enough to move the needle in all five states we sampled, with increases in rates ranging from 14 percent to 44 percent. If we add a previous minor speeding violation to the mix, the jump is even more emphatic. A sample rate in Middleton, Ohio, went from $1,136 a year to $1,592, an increase of 40 percent. In Biloxi, Miss., the sample rate went from $1,918 to $3,014 a year, up 57 percent.


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1 Responses to "What a big ticket does to your car insurance"
  1. Eric Christensen

    Per Calif. Vehicle Code section 22348B, a person who drives a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than 100 miles per hour is guilty of an infraction punishable, as follows... -- Retired Calif. Highway Patrol

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