Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Speeding tickets and insurance

People often ask me how their speeding ticket will affect their insurance rates. There is actually a specific provision of the law, Insurance Law § 2335, that addresses one portion of that question, and I've pasted the text at the bottom of this post.

Other parts of the law allow for insurance companies to establish what's called a "merit rating plan". Each company has their own plan, and it's awfully hard to find out the details of the plan. I would think I'm pretty sophisticated (having worked for an insurance company), but I haven't been able to figure it out with my policy.

§ 2335 prohibits them from raising your rates for traffic infractions, unless blah blah blah. If you read the text, it reads like that and you'll scratch your head for a while trying to figure it out. I think I understand it, but who knows.

Getting to the details, essentially I read it as saying that:
They can't raise your rates for getting a traffic ticket, unless
1. The relevant violation(s) occurred within 3 years before the date 4 months before your policy period starts.
-- If I read that right, you can get any ticket less than 4 months before your policy period starts, and they can't raise your rates until the next year.
-- Note that it's the date of the violation, not of the conviction, that matters. I think. It says "apply to a conviction for a violation that occurred ...". Presumably that means it's when the violation occurred, not when the conviction occurred. So the longer you stall your ticket, the less impact it will have on your insurance?

2. (1) says a speeding ticket for 15 or less over the limit (i.e. 70 in a 55; 80 in a 65) cannot affect your insurance.

-- What if you get two speeding tickets of 15 or less? As I read this, it still shouldn't affect your rates.

3. After a long list of other items, (14) says "two or more moving violations of any other provision ..."

-- Well, speeding is not an "other" provision. It's one of the provisions in the list, so two speeding tickets of 15 or less shouldn't affect your rates.

4. What if you get one other moving violation (the typical reduction is an 1110(a) - failure to obey a traffic control device - a 2-pointer), and you get a speed of 15 or less?

-- As I read this, it still should not affect your rates. You've got one "other" moving violation (the 1110(a)), and one speed, which is not an "other".

So if you're a speeding ticket lawyer, and you have the opportunity to plead your client down from a 6-point speed to an 1110(a), should you do so, or should you go for a 3-point speed?

-- By the logic above, if you want to protect your client's rates, you should ask for the 3-point speed.

Now reality sets in. First, the insurance companies may not follow the law. If they don't, it's going to cost your client a lot more to challenge the insurance company in Court. You can complain to the Insurance Department, but will they even understand the issue?

And of course your client will probably think that getting 2 points is better than 3. How do you address this situation? Ideally you discuss it with your client.

Above I mentioned that 2 speeding tickets should not affect rates (if they follow the law). But remember that a speed might be either 3 or 4 points. Let's take the 3-pointer (which is for speeds of 1-10 mph over the limit). The 2 tickets add up to six points. That means DMV will hit your client with the new Drivers Responsibility Assessment, costing an additional $300. Or if you get two 4-pointers, the fines are higher (max $355 each, up from about $200 for the 3-pointer), and now the assessment is $450.

Also keep in mind that 3 speeds in 18 months means you lose your license. So yes, you can get three 3-point speeds and only have 9 points, and theoretically your rates won't go up, but your license will be suspended or revoked.

The statute itself is below.

Insurance Law § 2335 -- Motor vehicle liability insurance rates -- prohibition of surcharges for certain traffic infractions

No insurer authorized to transact or transacting business in this state, or controlling or controlled by or under common control by or with an insurer authorized to transact or transacting business in this state, which sells a policy providing motor vehicle liability insurance coverage in this state shall increase the policy premium in connection with the insurance permitted or required by this chapter solely because the insured or any other person who customarily operates an automobile covered by the policy:

(a) has been found guilty of a traffic infraction under any of the provisions of the vehicle and traffic law provided, however, that this provision shall not apply to a conviction for a violation which occurred during the thirty-six month period ending on the last day of the fourth month preceding the month of the effective date of the policy if such conviction consisted of:

(1) operating a motor vehicle at a speed of more than fifteen miles per hour in excess of the legal limit;

(2) operating a motor vehicle in excess of the speed limit, or in a reckless manner, where injury or death results therefrom;

(3) operating a motor vehicle in excess of the speed limit, or reckless driving, or any combination thereof, on three or more occasions;

(4) operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or impaired by the consumption of alcohol;

(5) operating a motor vehicle while impaired by the use of a drug, within the meaning of section one thousand one hundred ninety-two of the vehicle and traffic law;

(6) homicide or assault arising out of the use or operation of a motor vehicle, or criminal negligence in the use or operation of a motor vehicle resulting in the injury or death of another person, or use or operation of a motor vehicle directly or indirectly in the commission of a felony;

(7) operating a motor vehicle while seeking to avoid apprehension or arrest by a law enforcement officer;

(8) filing or attempting to file a false or fraudulent automobile insurance claim, or knowingly aiding or abetting in the filing or attempted filing of any such claim;

(9) leaving the scene of an incident without reporting;

(10) filing a false document with the department of motor vehicles, or using a license or registration obtained by filing a false document with the department of motor vehicles;

(11) operating a motor vehicle in a race or speed test;

(12) knowingly permitting or authorizing an unlicensed driver to operate a motor vehicle insured under the policy;

(13) operating a motor vehicle insured under the policy without a valid license or registration in effect, except when the person convicted had possessed a valid license or registration which had expired and was subsequently renewed, or during a period of revocation or suspension thereof, or in violation of the limitations applicable to a license issued pursuant to article twenty-one or article twenty-one-a of the vehicle and traffic law; or

(14) two or more moving violations of any other provision of the vehicle and traffic law;

(b) has had a temporary suspension of a driver's license pending a hearing, prosecution or investigation or an indefinite suspension of a driver's license which is issued because of the failure of the person suspended to perform an act, which suspension will be terminated by the performance of the act by the person suspended, or has had more than one such temporary or indefinite suspension arising out of the same incident issued against him or her, provided that the foregoing provisions of this section shall not apply if such suspension or suspensions has or have not been terminated on or before the effective date of the policy; or

(c) with respect to a non-commercial private passenger automobile insurance policy, has had an accident while operating a commercial vehicle in the course of employment and in the discharge of the employee's duties at the time of the accident, unless the accident is determined to have been caused by the intentional action or gross negligence of the insured.


Anonymous said...

In regards to moving violations and insurance.... My 17 year old daughter received a speeding ticket. Officer said she was going 69 in a 55, but she insists she never went over 65. She went to court. The judge asked her if she wished to plead not-guilty... She looked at him and didn't say a word. He then says do you wish to plead guilty or not going the speed the officer said you were going. She was honest and said I wasn't going the speed he said, but I was going over the speed limit. He reduced it to failure to obey a traffice device. Now, my question is "will my insurance rates go up for her violation?" There is only 1 car on our policy. She drives the vehicle less than 10% of the time.

Unknown said...

My general impression of the law is that such a violation will not affect insurance in NY if it's the only violation within 3 years. If rates were increased, I'd call the Insurance Dept to complain.

Anonymous said...

If someone was convicted August 2005 of a DWAI, how long would an auto insurance company be able to impose a surcharge? It seems like it would not be until January 09 before you escape that period (the thirty-six month period ending on the last day of the fourth month preceding the month of the effective date of the policy). Does that sound about right?

Unknown said...

Yes, that sounds about right. It's always possible there's some other law out there that changes things, but I haven't seen it.

Anonymous said...

if i just recieved my third speeding ticket but got the other 2 reduced to failure to disobey a traffic device can i still get my license revoked? my driving abstract says its all failure to disobey a traffic device.

Unknown said...

Has to be three speeding convictions. Speeding tickets that are reduced to something else don't count. But the points can add up, pushing you into the assessment ($300 and up) and getting you closer to a suspension. Also, you may be getting into an area where your rates will go up.

Anonymous said...

I recieved a 6 pt speeding ticket in July 2008 but had it reduced to a 2 pt non-speeding moving violation 1110(a). Will this increase my insurance? I am 18 years old and have been insured since I was 17. It is the only violation I have recieved and I was not within my 6 month probation period. I'm insured on my parents policy.

Anonymous said...

First of all, congratulations on a great, informative web site. I just got the 1st ticket of my life (I'm 36), for "being clocked @ 82mph" with laser (LTI-Ultralite) on I-81 (65mph posted). I am aware that I was speeding, however I am skeptical of the figure quoted by the officer because (a) I exceedingly rarely go above 80mph, even for a second, and (b) I have an audible warning in my car set at 80mph that never went off. I can't see anywhere what the fine range will be; I am also concerned about my insurance premium going up (pristine so far). What would be your educated guess as to those two questions? Thanks upfront for your help!

Unknown said...

Fine range for 82/65 is $175 to $385. Insurance impact is hard to figure. Might be no effect. The guess I often hear is a 30% increase for 3 years.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your quick response on the 82/65 question... If I may ask one more thing: Would you advise appearing in Court on the scheduled date to seek a plea bargain? This is Town of Lafayette in Onondaga Co., and the ticket was issued by a State trooper. The ticket and the attached deposition have nothing remarkable. Thanks again and keep up the good work!

Unknown said...

I would advise hiring an attorney to handle this for you. If you want to hire us, our fee for a case like this is $500.

Anonymous said...

Hello, thanks for your GREAT web site! I have a quick question I was hoping you could help me with: On Dec. 6, I got a speeding ticket in upstate New York. On the left side, the ticket says "Return by mail before or in person on: (Date)" However I've just noticed the right side, Section B (Plea of Not Guilty) says "Mail this NOT GUILTY plea within 48 hours." Obviously I am past that time. My question is: Is this a problem? Is my only option at this point to show up in Court in order to enter my plea, or can I still use mail? A related question: If I am simultaneously sending a letter to the DA to suggest a plea bargain, do I have to act any differently in regards to how I enter my plea?

Again, thanks for a GREAT web site!

Unknown said...

The 48-hour rule is not followed by any court that I've seen. Even the return-by date is rarely treated as a real deadline. You can still use mail.

As for how to deal with the ticket, my formal legal advice is that you should hire a lawyer. :-)

Anonymous said...

I got a speeding ticket for going 79 on Hwy 88, which has a 65mph limit. I want to apply for a reduction of charges, but I'm not sure what is a reasonable reduction. Is a reduction to a parking violation reasonable? Can you advise me?

Thanks in advance!

Unknown said...

The reasonableness of a reduction depends on more than just the speed. My "legal advice" is to hire a lawyer to help with that. Practically speaking, for a 79/65, the consequences for some people are minor enough that the cost of a lawyer might outweigh the benefit.

Also practically speaking, reductions to parking tickets are hard to get on parts of I-88.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your help. I figured that spending money on a lawyer might not be wise, as the fine for the ticket can, as you mentioned in response to one of the comments, "range for 82/65 is $175 to $385," which is below of what a lawyer would charge me plus any additional fine I'd have to pay. The point reduction for my infraction is 4, but I wonder if I can get it reduced to a two-point for a "moving violation."

After reading N.Y. ISC. LAW § 2335, I know that my insurance would probably not go up as I was not going 15 miles above the limit, but I just got my license in June after living in NYC and never needing to get a license. It would not look good that I got a speeding ticket a few months after getting my license. Of course, I already pay a higher premium because I just got my license. I am now 30 years old, married and have excellent credit, so I'm hoping that would eventually help with my insurance rate.

Anyway, I now follow the advice of the trooper that gave me the ticket, who told me to set my cruise control at 74mph to avoid new tickets.

Thanks again for your help!

rbshevlin said...

Great site, good info. I do have a question concerning my daughter. She has been on my insurance policy for about 1 year with a car reg. to me. She got in a fender bender (hit a car from behind at a traffic light). The police were called and she was given a ticket for following too close (a big issue no adays!). I dealt with the other driver and we hanfled the repair outside of the insurance company. My question is, if my daughter pleads guilty to the following too close, will it affect my insurmance rates? Thanks.

Unknown said...

As I read the law, if that's her only violation then it should not be enough to raise rates. But your insurance company may not agree with my view on the law.

Also if the police were on scene and they reported the accident to her driving record, that might affect insurance.

Anonymous said...

I received yesterday a summons for 1180F (speeding in a work Zone) Radar "claimed" 77 in a 55 work zone. I have a clean record for well over 10 years (or more). What do you think of a not gulity plea followed by a plea bargain in Albany City court, would result in? I was told probably a "failure to obey traffic device" which is 2 points instead of 6 points. Is this true? And is there a insurance penalty for the "failure to obey traffic device"?


Unknown said...

Hard to say what will happen for sure in any court. In general with a 6-point speed in a work zone, we recommend hiring a lawyer.

The deal you mention can, in some cases, affect insurance. As with anything else, it depends. Good thing to discuss with your lawyer.

Anonymous said...

I just received a 44 in a 30. The road I had been traveling on quickly switches from a 40 speed limit to a 30. Since it was 1130 at night and it was also my first ticket, how easy would this be to reduce?

Unknown said...

Usually a 44/30 is not too hard to reduce, but that depends on other factors, like which court and county the case is in, how old you are, and more.