insurance

Traffic School and Clearing Points

Riddle-me-this: What is the shortest distance between you and two points? When it comes to driving, there are a dozen correct answers to that question; 12 vehicle code regulations in California that you can violate to earn the DMV’s equivalent of the Scarlet Letter of driving – a two-point offense on your driving record.

And two point offenses cannot be masked on your driving record by going to traffic school.

If a single point on your driving record can put a painful squeeze on your wallet by increasing your insurance premiums by as much as 20 percent if you don’t attend traffic school (depending on your driving record and insurance policy provisions) a two-point offense might just leave you seeking alternate means of transportation altogether.

Most common traffic violations are worth a single point. If you drive a little too fast or too slow, if you do a graceful “California Roll” through a stop sign, or if you think that a traffic light that has just turned to yellow means “go faster”, you might be well-acquainted with one-point offenses. Once every 18 months you can do a little traffic school time as penance and – presto! Your point is masked on your DMV record and your insurance company is none the wiser.

However, if you get a second single point violation in 18 months and go to traffic school for it, the point will be visible on your driving record as “dismissed”. Your savvy little insurance professional will then know that you had a second violation in an 18 month period and may raise your rates accordingly. So much for circumventing the system.

While the DMV says that you are a negligent driver if you receive 4 cumulative points in one year, 6 points in 2 years or 8 points in 3 years, your insurance agency will probably stop having warm, fuzzy thoughts about you after you receive even one two-point offense.

Aside from the horrific potential many two-point offenses have for causing injury or even death, the list of additional possible consequences is daunting. Jail time. Huge fines and penalty assessments. Impound fees. Court fees. Attorney fees. Expensive, court ordered correctional classes. The previously mentioned No More Mr./Mrs. Nice Guy from your insurance agent. Oh, and for many of the offenses – the DMV will assure that your driver’s license becomes as worthless as a three dollar bill.

Two-point offenses in California:
~ Evading a peace officer/reckless driving
~ Driving while license is suspended or revoked
~ Hit and run with injury or property damage
~ Driving on the wrong side of a divided highway
~ Speed over 100 MPH
~ Reckless driving
~ Reckless driving causing bodily injury
~ Speed contest/exhibition of speed
~ Minor driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 percent or more
~ Driving under the influence (DUI) of an alcoholic beverage or drugs
~ DUI/causing bodily injury or death
~ Transporting explosives

While your first single point offense can be cured by a spoonful of traffic school, a two point offense will be much harder for your insurance company to swallow.

How do you avoid getting hit with the double point whammy? It’s like I always tell my teenage sons – you don’t have to worry about getting caught, if you don’t do anything wrong in the first place.

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