Roadshow: Traffic school is not always needed
Q I received a ticket for going through a stop sign at 5 mph, my first ticket in about 30 years. Is it better to just pay the ticket and let it be a point on my insurance or go to traffic school? The ticket would be $244 alone but $316 for traffic school. Is the extra $72 worth it?
A “Ah, yes,” said Tully-the-Insurance-Man. “The age-old question — traffic school or not to traffic school.”
In your case, traffic school might not be needed. Here is why, said Tully, one of my most astute Roadshow consultants:
“The first item to look at is: This gentleman has had, for 30 years, a clean driving record. Now he receives a ticket for running a stop sign with no damage caused (no accident, etc.). Because of his long history of a safe driving record, it is likely, although not guaranteed, his insurer would not take steps against him — in other words, raising his rates — after this one incident.
“However, leaving this ticket on his record will allow it to be visible to insurers, usually for three years. Should he decide to shop for a new auto policy, for example, insurers, when looking up his record, will see that ticket, which could influence the price of a new policy. It just depends on the company looking at the information and how they want to proceed. That is something to keep in mind.
“Should the driver decide to go to traffic school, the DMV
will still have a record of his receiving a ticket, usually for three years, but it would be hidden from insurers.
“In California, you don’t usually see an impact on insurance rates after a first ticket (that can vary from company to company), but if you receive a second ticket, you could see that jump. He could call his current insurer and ask what would happen if he didn’t go to traffic school for this ticket. If he decides not to go to traffic school but then receives a second ticket sometime in the next three years, he could go to traffic school to hide that second one from the insurer’s view.”
Q As I sit at my computer checking email, I had your address on the “to-do” list. It has to do with the child seat belt issue.
My son has a RAV4 four-door vehicle, and three skinny people can squeeze into the back. However, he has two children who still sit in booster seats, and oops, baby No. 3 comes along, and her car seat eats up most of the one back seat. Can one of the older children sit in the front seat with the booster and it still be legal? Or do we still cram all three in the back — one car seat, two boosters?
The children are Ethan (7 years, 72 pounds) and Noelle (6 years and 70 pounds). Both are shorter than 4-foot-9. I suppose that if there are three seat belts in the back, you have to sit all three children there regardless of size of vehicle. Kind of tight for a car seat and two boosters.
This issue bothers Grandma and Grandpapa every time we watch them leave our house.
A The law states that all children younger than 8 must ride in a safety seat in the BACK seat, where they are 44 percent safer than sitting in front. You can purchase booster seats that are pretty narrow, however.
Q Last Sunday, you wrote about late registration fees and what sounded like a neat solution: “Now you can go to www.dmv.ca.gov and create your own vehicle profile and you will get an email reminder when registration is due. Jan-the-DMV-Lady says motorists describe this as ‘really cool.’ ” Cool, perhaps, but for the life of me I could not find out how to set up such a tool. Can you please write more details on how to do it? … I looked all over the DMV website and when I couldn’t find anything I called customer service and they said that they did not have such a service. … I went and looked for “vehicle profile” on the DMV home page, searched for “vehicle profile” in the search box, used Google to search dmv.ca.gov for “vehicle profile” and came up empty. Can you print a more specific pointer to this feature? It’s very well hidden. … I went to http://dmv.ca.gov and hunted unsuccessfully for renewal reminder. Sounded like a good idea. At 82, I thought it would be good to have a reminder.
Henry Lessing, Ed King, Michael Graff, Reg Gazay and more
A Oops, said a DMV official. The state agency now says it won’t be able to send out email reminders until later this year.
But here is what you can do now. Go to the DMV website and register by creating a user name and a password. Once you do that, you can input your vehicle with the VIN and license plate number. Then log in to your own “portal,” and you get a reminder on the right side of your home page of vehicles that are coming up for renewal.
Have a gripe, minor annoyance or major problem with transportation? Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-920-5335.
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