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Large California Traffic Ticket Fines Effective 01/06/2012

If you’re a California driver, pay close attention to this one. The Golden State of California is broke and is looking for ways to pay some bills. Aside from raising taxes like our brilliant politicians up in Sacramento like to do as a “solution” to all our fiscal problems, they looking to the highways to generate some revenue for their pockets.

Take note of the following California traffic ticket fines which took effect on Friday, 1/6. Sorry, I’m a few days late on this. I received this information from an email. Apparently, these details were taken from an article in the L.A. Times. I tried to find it but no luck. If you come across the story, please send to me so I can give some credit to where it’s due.

Rumor has it that the California Highway Patrol is under pressure to issue a lot more tickets than last year with at least 30% increase in fines over 2009, so beware of radar guns, highway and traffic cameras installed everywhere and the tougher enforcement of parking rules.

Traffic Ticket Fines (Effective 01/06/2012)

  • VC 12814.6 $214 Failure to obey license provisions
  • VC 14600(A) $214 Failure to notify DMV of address change within 10 days Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction.
  • VC 16028(A) $796 Failure to provide evidence of financial responsibility (insurance) Note: This fine may be reduced with proof of insurance on or after the violation date.
  • VC 21453(A) $436 Failure to stop at a red signal.
  • VC 22349 $214 Unsafe speed, 1 to 15 miles over the limit.
  • VC 22350 $328 Unsafe speed, 16 to 25 miles over the limit.
  • VC 22450 $214 Failure to stop at a stop sign.
  • VC 22454(A) $616 Passing a school bus with flashing red signals.
  • VC 23123(A) $148 Driving while using a wireless phone not hands free, first offense.
  • VC 23123(B) $256 Driving while using a wireless phone not hands not free, each subsequent offense.
  • VC 23123.5 $148 Driving while using a wireless device to send, read or write text.
  • VC 23124 $148 Minor driving while using a wireless phone.
  • VC 22500 $976 Parking in a bus loading area.
  • VC 22507(A) $976 Violation of disabled parking provisions, first offense.
  • VC 22507(B) $1876 Violation of disabled parking provisions, second offense.
  • VC 26708 $178 Unlawful material on vehicle windows.
  • VC 27150 $178 Adequate muffler required.
  • VC 27315 $148 Mandatory use of seat belts.
  • VC 27360 $436 Mandatory use of passenger child restraints. Note: This fine may be reduced by completing a court authorized child seat diversion program.
  • VC 27400 $178 Headsets or Earplugs covering both ears.
  • VC 27803 $178 Violation of motorcycle safety helmet requirements.
  • VC 34506 $616 Commercial Driver – Log book violation.
  • VC 4000 $256 No evidence of current registration. Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction.
  •  VC 4159 $178 Notify DMV of change of address within 10 days. Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction.
  • VC 5200 $178 Proper display of license plates. Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction.
  • VC 9400 $178 Commercial weight fees due. Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction

So what do you think? Will these California traffic ticket fines convince you to be more cautious on the road?


Rodney King and DUI’s

The infamous Rodney King,  whose videotaped 1991 beating by police ignited the Los Angeles riots the following year, was arrested Tuesday afternoon in Southern California, suspected of driving under the influence. King was driving erratically and was taken into custody where he was evaluated and later arrested on suspicion of DUI of drugs or alcohol.  He was also convicted of DUI for a 2003 traffic stop where he was found driving under the influence of PCP.

Riverside County Sherrif's Department via AP

Let this be a lesson about the costs of getting a DUI. Everyone knows drinking and driving is dangerous, but most don’t think about the possible financial repercussions driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  You may have a few drinks at the bar, or even dinner for that matter and think no biggie, I just want to get my car home and avoid the cost of a $30 taxi ride.

Well think again before getting behind the wheel. $30 is chump change compared to what you’ll be paying if you get nailed for a DUI. From court costs, fines and attorneys’ fees, to traffic school, probation and higher insurance premiums, expect to pay $10,000 or more for the experience here in California. Not to mention a big pain in the arse dealing with the bureaucracies and other non-financial hurdles you must go through in the process.

From the moment you’re taken into custody, you start a running tab, and we’re not talking about a bar tab here. Each jurisdiction’s costs, fines and penalties will be a little different, but this is what you can expect if you’re suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs:

  • Your car will be impounded. You will be charged a towing fee and pay for the privilege of having the local authorities look after your vehicle while you get the mess sorted out. There could also be a vehicle release fee. The ticker starts at $250 or more just to keep your car in your possession.
  • You will need to post bail so that you may be released from custody until your first hearing. Your bail will vary depending on the county and circumstances surrounding your arrest, but can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. If you don’t have that kind of cash on hand, you will call a bail bondsman. Bail bondsmen will typically ask for 10 percent of the total bond. If your bond is $5000, you’re still going to have to come up with $500 quickly.
  • On a first offense DUI conviction, you will be fined not less than $390, and not more than $1,000, excluding court fees.
  • California requires 96 hours of jail time if you’re convicted of a DUI, 48 of which much be served consecutively. Many judges allow this time in work service. All of this will likely result in some time off work, and for many people lost time means lost wages. DUIs remain on your criminal record for life if employers or future landlords do a background check.
  • You will get a minimum of 3 years probation.
  • Your insurance carrier may place a surcharge on your auto insurance policy for up to three years. However, because a DUI stays on your driving record for 10 years in California, a driver with a DUI will not be eligible for a good driver discount for up to 10 years.
  • Pay a license re-issue fee of at least $125. To get your license back you will probably have to complete an approved alcohol education and treatment program at your own expense.
  • If you get your license back it will likely be restricted and you may be required to install an ignition interlock device, also at your own expense. An ignition interlock device (IID) is wired to your vehicle’s ignition and requires your breath sample before the engine will start. If the IID detects alcohol on your breath, the engine will not start. As you drive, you are periodically required to provide breath samples to ensure you haven’t taken a drink since beginning your journey.

Next time you’re out enjoying adult beverage’s, don’t let the alcohol do the thinking when it comes time to close your tab and leave the bar. Just print this blog post out and put it in your purse or back pocket to remind you the list of troubles you’ll be dealing with should you get caught for a DUI. Not to mention the danger you’ll put others in if you get behind the wheel. Case in point…..Rodney King.

Source: Insurance Information Network of California 


Distracted Driving- Auto Accidents Don’t Announce Themselves

Have you seen this comical Lexus commercial on the air pertaining to distracted driving? This one really applies to everyone on the road. Auto accidents don’t announce themselves.

After watching the video, check out the tips below to avoid distracted driving. Be safe out there.

Tips to avoid distracted driving

  1. Be well rested and alert before driving.
  2. Keep safe driving as your first priority when driving.
  3. Consider taking a defensive driving course.
  4. Park to eat.
  5. Drink with a lid on your cup, only going slow and straight or stopped.
  6. Don’t hold a cup between your knees while driving.
  7. Pull to the curb to read a map or directions.
  8. Find out what landmarks are near your destination before arriving.
  9. Tell your passengers you need to keep your eyes on the road.
  10. Keep sun glasses within reach.
  11. Check rearview mirror BEFORE you enter a curve or turn.
  12. Keep both hands on the steering wheel in a curve or turn.
  13. Use restraints for your pet when you drive with them in the car.


Winter Blizzards- Tips For Winter Driving

Take a look at this accident footage from Salem, NH. I feel kind of guilty writing this post from Southern California as virtually everyone east of us is getting hammered with  snow, but I guess the cost of living makes up for it sometimes. With that being said, below the video clip are winter driving tips courtesy of Travelers Insurance. There wouldn’t be any legitimacy to these recommendations if they came directly from me. What does a Los Angeles native know about driving in the snow anyways??

Prepare for winter driving before a storm hits

  • Have a mechanic check your car’s battery, brakes, fluid levels (antifreeze, windshield washer fluid and oil), as well as the heating and exhaust systems to ensure that your car is in good, safe working condition.
  • Try to keep your gas tank full during the winter months. Don’t allow the gas to go below half a tank. Not only will this prevent damage from freezing, you’ll avoid running out of gas if you’re stuck in a traffic jam during the dead of winter.
  • Install snow tires or all-weather radials with adequate treads.
  • An adequate supply of windshield washing liquid is critical to wash away the mud and melted snow that can severely limit visibility.
  • Prepare for an emergency. Keep blankets, flares, a sack of sand for traction, shovel, windshield scraper and brush, tool kit, tow-rope, booster cables and a flashlight with extra batteries in your trunk. You should also stock your car with material for survival, such as waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water, a first aid kit, dry clothing and a brightly colored cloth (to tie to the antenna).

When driving under adverse winter conditions

  • Take care pulling out of streets blocked by mountains of snow. It’s often difficult to see who or what is coming.
  • Back your car into the driveway so you have better vision when pulling out.
  • Be aware of joggers on the street. Often sidewalks are impassable and die-hard joggers venture onto the street for a clearer path. Unfortunately, they may not see icy spots or other hazards hidden below the slush.
  • Don’t turn corners too tightly.
  • If your car does not have anti-lock brakes and you start skidding on the ice, try not to slam on your brakes. Gently pump your brakes to maintain better control and prevent your wheels from locking.
  • If your car does have anti-lock brakes, slam on your brakes when skidding on the ice. Pumping your brakes prevents the anti-lock system from taking over.

Traveling during a severe storm. Travel only if necessary during a blizzard or severe storm. If you must travel:

  • Don’t travel alone. Notify someone of your estimated time of arrival as well as your primary and alternate travel routes.
  • If STUCK, stay in the car and wait for help. Run the engine and heater sparingly. Also make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow and ventilate your car so that carbon monoxide fumes won’t poison you.
  • Keep your energy. Eat food that provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Replenish your body with fluids to prevent dehydration. Don’t eat snow; it will lower your body temperature. Melt it first.

Source: Travelers Insurance; Insurance Information Institute


What Do I do In the Event of An Auto, Property, or Liability Loss?

Ever been in a car accident? Or, been affected by a fire, burglary, theft, etc? Even injured someone accidentally?

Chances are there was a flood of emotions going through your head if you’ve experienced any of these scenarios. During times like these, it’s likely you’ll have to rely on your insurance coverage to help you through it. These are the times you’re actually really happy your paid those insurance premiums.

Here are some tips on what to do in the event of an auto, property, or liability loss courtesy of Golden Eagle Insurance*:

Automobile Losses

  • Make sure everyone is okay – call for medical assistance if necessary
  • Notify the police about the loss
  • Exchange contact and insurance information with other parties
  • Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses
  • Make a diagram of accident
  • Photograph the scene prior to moving the vehicle(s) if this can be safely done
  • Take reasonable steps to move your vehicle from the scene and to safeguard it and any personal property contained in the vehicle from subsequent damage
  • Make no commitments for payment
  • Do not discuss fault or blame at the scene
  • Do not discuss the details of the accident with anyone except the police, your insurance agent, claim adjuster, or your legal counsel

Property Losses

  • Protect all property from further damage
  • Preserve all evidence
  • Locate purchase records to document values
  • Describe extent of damage to property
  • If emergency restoration services are needed, call a service such as Servpro at 1-800-SERVPRO

General Liability Losses

  • Contact emergency personnel if necessary
  • Document how, when and where the accident occurred
  • Photograph scene and/or all damaged articles
  • Complete accident investigation form (available from your agent or insurance carrier)
  • Collect names, addresses and telephone numbers of injured persons
  • Make note of any injuries/complaints
  • Identify any potential witnesses and secure their names, addresses and telephone numbers
  • Make no commitments for payment
  • Do not discuss fault or blame at the scene
  • Do not discuss the details of the loss with any party representing the injured person without first consulting with your insurance agent, claim adjuster or legal counsel

*While not an exhaustive list, the above information is provided to assist you should a loss occur. Nothing contained within this material should be construed as providing legal advice nor does it imply coverage will be afforded. Every claim submitted must be reviewed and evaluated based upon the applicable policy of insurance and the facts of loss.


Commercial Auto Fleets – Vehicle Safety Tips

Does your business own a fleet of automobiles? Fleets are generally defined as a group of motor vehicles owned or leased by a business, rather than by an individual or family. Many businesses purchase or lease fleet vehicles to deliver goods to customers, or for sales representatives to travel to see clients, etc.

Overseeing multiple vehicles requires hefty organizational skills and  responsibility. Not only do you need to keep tabs on the vehicles themselves, but you need to take into account the employees driving them. When managing your businesses fleet of automobiles, consider three main points:

  1. Safety
  2. Maintenance
  3. Your insurance program

How can you improve fleet safety?

  • All fleet insurance programs should start with driver selection and having suitable standards for the drivers hired. As a business, make sure that all the drivers you hire meet your standards. Review your driver list to make sure that you are keeping the very best drivers. Insurance carriers make it a priority to look at the driving records of the people you put on the road.
  • Once you hire a new driver, provide adequate training programs, both on and off the road. Make sure your drivers are familiar with their routes and with the customers’ operations so they know where they’re going and what they are supposed to do.
  • Once your drivers are on the road, be sure to measure what’s going on. Be aware of when your drivers have violations, accidents or incidents. Technology these days can help you do that. Systems such as on-board recorders can give you details like hard braking, speeding, etc. Some vehicle systems have parameters that will alert you if the driver has gone off-route. These systems alert the dispatcher that your driver has left the route, then you can contact the driver to see what’s going on.

What can be done to improve maintenance?

  • Be sure that your vehicles are well-maintained and that you are keeping adequate records to document that maintenance. Train drivers to do inspections. Consider having a checklist that they need to complete before and after every trip to prove that they have done those inspections.
  • At the very least, perform the regularly scheduled preventive maintenance, whether you’re using your own mechanics or outside mechanics, and document it all. That way, you can prove what you have and haven’t done if there ever was an issue with that vehicle or an accident. Some businesses resort to technology that will alert them when the vehicle is due for maintenance, and the dispatcher will be notified not to dispatch that vehicle until that maintenance has been completed.

How do you determine what type of insurance coverage you need?

  • Concerning your insurance program, be sure your insurance broker has a complete understanding of all details of your fleet and that it is clearly relayed to your insurance carrier because it will affect your premium. Premium is rated according to whatever you’re transporting, your radius of operations, whether you are operating in an urban or rural area, whether you are a short-haul or long-haul.
  • Once a loss occurs, stay very involved because in the end, those losses will determine what your insurance premiums are going to be.

It is very important to have an insurance partner who can represent your best interests. Monitoring the claims process is as important as preventing the claim in the first place.


Do I Need A Commercial Auto Insurance Policy For My Work Vehicle?

I was asked a question last week about commercial auto insurance for a home based business. “Do I need a commercial auto insurance policy for a delivery van which will be used to deliver my product?” This particular business is a new venture. It’s a baked goods catering business which prepares all product at a third-party commercial kitchen.

It can be confusing trying to determine when a commercial auto insurance policy is necessary, especially for home based businesses. If you’re trying to figure out if you need commercial auto insurance, or if you can just get by with your personal auto insurance policy, here are some scenarios that will hopefully help you decide.

When Might I Need Commercial Auto Insurance?

  • If a vehicle is used in tasks related to the operator’s job, profession or business (other than commuting).
  • If you are using your vehicle to transport goods or people for a fee or if you use your vehicle to conduct a service
  • If you need higher limits of liability because of the nature of your work.
  • If you are hauling a considerable weight in tools or equipment or towing a trailer used to conduct your business.
  • If employees operate the vehicle or if ownership is in the name of a corporation or partnership.

If you as an individual are the titled owner of your vehicle, and use it for business purposes, contact your insurance agent to discuss your policy. Be certain you’re covered adequately for business use and appropriate estimated annual mileage. Many business uses and vehicle types may be excluded from personal auto insurance policies, so you want to be sure you have the right coverage.


All Businesses Are Vulnerable to Catastrophic Auto Liability Claims

Last month, on August 9th, a tour bus carrying Japanese sightseers from Las Vegas, NV to a national park in Utah, crashed on Interstate 15 north of Cedar City, Utah. Three were killed in the crash and 11 injured.

This photo released by the Utah Highway Patrol shows the bus at the scene of a crash north of Cedar City, Utah

The 26 year-old driver of the bus was reported to have smoked marijuana heavily for several days before falling asleep at the wheel of the tour bus when it crashed. He was charged yesterday with 10 felony counts of negligent driving under the influence, and one misdemeanor charge of having marijuana residue in his system.

To date, no charges have been filed against the bus company he was driving for. That company supplied the shuttle bus and driver to other tour operators who organized the trip.

What if this happened to your business?

You might not be in the tour bus industry, but this doesn’t mean an accident of this magnitude can’t happen to your business. Do you own commercial autos titled under your business? Have a commercial auto insurance policy in force? Or, do you simply have employees run errands to the post office, store,  or to pick up your lunch? What if your employee was distracted at the wheel and veered off the road killing or injuring others? Are you certain your business is covered for these circumstances? You may want to inquire with your insurance agent NOW to confirm.

Aside from having the proper insurance coverage in force to protect your business from auto liability claims, here are some basic risk management measures you can take as a business owner to help mitigate the situation. Although, following these measures is no guarantee accidents will NOT happen.

  • Check employees’ driving records, and prohibit employees with poor driving histories from operating company vehicles;
  • Emphasize driving safety, and require employees to wear seat belts; establish a cell phone usage policy for employee drivers;
  • Ensure that employees know how to properly operate company vehicles;
  • Properly classify vehicles with your insurance company. Track vehicle usage and the number of miles driven per year, and update these records when you renew your commercial auto insurance policy;
  • Keep all company vehicles well-maintained;
  • Choose vehicles with updated safety features, such as anti-lock brakes and air bags.
  • If you have additional stories, advice, or recommendations to share, please comment!


    Why Your Business Should Consider A Cell Phone Usage Policy

    Did you know that more than 1.5 million collisions a year, or 4,300 crashes daily are caused by driver distractions or inattentive driving? This comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Probably the most obvious reason for driver distraction comes from cell phones and PDA’s. Whether it be text messaging, emailing, or straight talking, people on the road seem to make it their priority, putting driving secondary. Even here in California where it’s against the law to use hand-held devices while operating a vehicle, most don’t seem to care from what we see first-hand on the road every day. If it isn’t the cell phone, then it might be laptops, GPS systems, food, drinks, reading, writing, grooming and other crazy things.

    A 2009 study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reflects the severity of cell phone distraction while driving. From dialing and talking to reaching and texting, cell phone usage while driving can be over 23 times riskier than non-distracted driving. Text messaging is by far the riskiest as the study results show.

    The important message here is if you’re an employer, you may be held liable if one of your employees causes an accident, catastrophic or not, from distracted driving. As long as that employee is driving in the course of employment, then beware. It’s highly recommended to establish a cell phone usage policy for your business and to educate your employees on the potential severity of their actions. If employees must use their phone to conduct business, they should at least pull over to the side of the road or into a parking lot. Or, get out of the car completely.

    1.5 million accidents a year is substantial number. However, it might only take one employee accident to affect your business substantially.  Know your risks!


    Photo Courtesy of TPS Report; Additional Resource: Insurance Information Institute

    Auto Liability Insurance You Must Have

    For all you business owners out there, do you ever send your employees on errands to the store or to the post office? To pick up food for the office? Do you have sales reps driving their own autos to meet clients or potential clients? Ever go on business trips and rent cars? If you have a business of any kind, I’d be shocked if none of these scenarios apply to your daily/weekly/yearly operations.

    Have you ever thought about what would happen if that employee you sent to pick up lunch hit a pedestrian and seriously injured or even killed them? Or if your sales rep was involved in an accident causing serious bodily injury or property damage to others involved? Unfortunately, accidents are not uncommon and when an employee causes an accident, the injured party will more than likely look to YOUR company to pay damages.

    This is why you need to be certain ‘Hired & Non-Owned Auto’ liability is added as an endorsement to your commercial general liability insurance policy. Your business doesn’t need to own vehicles for this to apply.

    Hired & Non-owned auto is a small endorsement which can have a huge impact on your general liability insurance coverage. It protects your business from bodily injury and property damage claims caused by a vehicle you rent or borrow; or caused by vehicles owned by others, such as your employees. It usually does not pay for physical damage to the vehicle itself; that’s covered by the owner’s insurance (although this option is sometimes available).

    What’s great is that it’s incredibly inexpensive to add this coverage to your existing general liability insurance policy. Usually no more than $100-$200 annually for $1,000,000 in coverage! To be blunt, you would be dumb not to carry this endorsement if it is an option on your GL policy.

    Be sure to check your current policy to see if this endorsement has been included. If it’s not, or if you’re uncertain, call your agent today to discuss! Accidents are not uncommon, so tomorrow may be too late!


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