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Street-racing ticket: What to expect


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Question: Is racing taken seriously by insurers? I got a ticket for racing and speeding -- 75 in a 45, in North Carolina. What type of penalties will I get, and will my insurance go up? My friend said my auto premiums would skyrocket.

Answer: Yes, street racing is a big deal, as you are likely to find out when you go to court for your ticket and get your next bill for car insurance.

Auto insurance companies and state laws treat racing, speed contests/competitions or exhibitions of speed (basically the same offense but different names depending upon where you live) as major violations. In fact, depending upon state laws and your auto insurance policy terms, it’s possible that if there were an accident while you were racing your car insurance company could deny claims.

I’ve seen policies that have exclusions under the bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist, accident death benefits and collision coverage portions saying if the loss were the result of racing there would be no coverage.

So racing is illegal, and racing is risky, and racing may even cancel out your coverage. But what will a conviction do to your premiums?

Typically your rates can rise anywhere from 30 percent to 200 percent, depending on your insurer and your state's laws.

You live in North Carolina, which has a safe driver incentive plan (SDIP) in place so the state dictates how many insurance points you receive and the percentage your auto rates will increase. Under this system your rates will indeed skyrocket if you are convicted of racing.

Your insurer will assign 12 SDIP points, the maximum given out for any offense, for prearranged racing and 10 SDIP points if you’re convicted instead of willful racing. According to the SDIP system, willful racing will raise your auto insurance rates 260 percent, while prearranged racing will push your rates up an incredible 340 percent.

The difference in the two types of racing, in North Carolina, is that prearranged racing means you planned the race beforehand and willful racing means you spontaneously raced someone; both come with a mandatory court appearance since they are misdemeanors and could come with jail time (per Section 20-141.3 of the North Carolina General Statutes).

Jail time isn’t typically handed out, but a fine, which is up to the discretion of the court for prearranged racing and up to $1,000 for willful racing, along with a license suspension are the usual penalties for racing in your state.  You might want to get a lawyer, though.  (See, “Fight a car-insurance-busting ticket”)

North Carolina has no problem suspending or revoking a motorist’s license. For just your speeding offense alone (75 in a 45) you could get your license revoked for 30 days. But the racing will most definitely get your license suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles, which says they take your license as soon as they receive the conviction report from the court for the offense.

Prearranged racing with another motor vehicle comes with a year license suspension of three years. Willful racing comes with a license suspension of up to one year; the length is determined by the court.

Also, when law enforcement finds that someone is operating a motor vehicle willfully in prearranged racing (or has loaned their car for racing), the officer will seize the vehicle. The DMV says if you are convicted of the offense, the court can order the vehicle sold at public auction.

While racing off the line at a red light might be enticing, don’t let the temptation get the best of you. You can lose your license and your car from this one act -- and place yourself into such a high-risk insurance category that it will be hard for you to find auto insurance that you can afford.  (See “What a big ticket does to your insurance rates”)

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