Ticketed: Traffic fines, court cost, and insurance rates - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Ticketed: Traffic fines, court cost, and insurance rates

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Getting a traffic ticket can not only be a painful experience, but a lengthy one, full of paperwork and stress.

Let's say you've never gotten a ticket, or even if you've forgotten the process, in the first of two special reports KNOE's Jillian Corder takes us along for the ride of getting "ticketed."

The siren, the flashing lights, and a pit in your stomach - the usual signs of a traffic stop.

If you get to drive away without a ticket, lucky you. For so many others on the road, luck ran out. Once the ticket is written you may have options, and in some cases, a charge can be lowered to a non-moving violation.

"If they ask for it and they have no prior criminal history, it's based on the individual really," says Jerry Jones, 4th Judicial District Attorney, "Typically if people have an excuse, have a reason, we will allowing non-movings."

Non-moving violations generally cost much less than other traffic citations. For instance, if your ticketed for window tint being too dark, it's only about $25.

"Let's say your doing over 30, over the speed limit, then your cost is $175," says Jones.

The harder you press the pedal, the pricier your ticket will be. Sherri told us on Facebook, her boyfriend's speeding ticket cost almost $300 for going 15 over.
 
A DWI charge is a criminal offense, and could cost you more than the car you were driving.

"You know how much a DWI cost?" asks Jones, "Around $20,000. That is cost paid to the court, the fine is $500, you're on probation for 2 years and it cost $45 a month to be on probation."

After all that, comes driver improvement school, conditions of your release, jail time, community service. It's painful to your pride, and your wallet.

For any ticket? Pay it, or go to court.

"You go to court, and you do one of two things... you opt to go to trial, or you opt to pay your ticket," says the District Attorney.

Asking for a trial simply for a time extension to pay your ticket, gives you about three extra weeks. If your fighting the charges, a trial is usually set a month later. There, the officer appears as a witness, and you get to defend yourself.

To avoid time in court and the hassle of paperwork (and usually because most people are guilty of the charges) they simply write the check, and call it a day.

Well, until your insurance gets news of it then your wallet might continue to get thinner. That's right, the buck does not stop when you pay off your ticket.

"We'll get notification of a minor or major violation that one of our insured has caused," says Greg Manley, Jr., an agent with State Farm.

With the highest rates in the nation, Louisiana's insurance premiums are certainly not cheap, add a ticket to that and the stress on your wallet may become too much.

"Louisiana's always been one of the highest in the cost of auto insurance liability," Manley says.

He explains that the high cost of healthcare can add to your insurance premiums, along with
Louisiana's indecisive, and sometimes hazardous weather.

"Also, you have so many people that get other lawyers or attorneys involved to represent them in an auto accident that can also drive up the cost for auto insurance in Louisiana," says Manley.

We were told for your first ticket, sometimes it can be dropped to a non-moving violation that will not be reported to your insurance. When your "first" ticket is reported, you may still have some luck.

"Most insurance companies would overlook let's say a minor violation over an extended period of time," says Manley.

If it's not your first "ticket-getting" rodeo, then your insurance rates will go up. Discounts - like safe driver or good student - they're the first to go.

"Let's say the discount was saving you 5 or 10 or even 20 percent, then that would be an impact to your premium," Manley explains, "Or if you weren't getting a discount then maybe a surcharge 5-10 percent depending on the severity of it."

One of the most severe tickets, a DWI, forget about keeping your discounts, keeping your insurance all together is what you need to be worrying about.

"A lot of companies could cancel or non-renew your policy with them," Manley explains.

Kicked off your insurance after a DWI, you are labeled under "assigned risk."

"There's a pool of insurance companies that must, according to state law, that must write these individuals that have DWIs or extensive driving records," says DA Jerry Jones, "but it will cost you about 3 to 4-hundred dollars a month minimum insurance."

For a minor traffic violation, there are a few ways keep rates from skyrocketing. Defensive Driving courses can sometimes be hard to find, but their monetary benefit is worth the search. For some, taking these classes can help keep their insurance rates from changing at all after a ticket, but to ensure consistent premiums, only one bit of advice - Be careful on the roads and don't get ticketed.

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