The high cost of alcohol-impaired driving


What happens to your wallet if you are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol? Financial penalties ae swift, severe, and can linger for a number of years. There are 42 states with an automatic license suspension on first offense, and the suspension can extend from 30 days to as much as a year, depending on the state.

You can look up your state’s impaired driving laws and penalties in this chart.

Here are some of the negative consequences of having a DUI conviction:

  • Your license could be suspended. 42 states have administrative license suspension on the first offense.
  • Your vehicle may be confiscated or impounded.
  • You may be required to participate in an ignition interlock program and pay for all associated costs. MADD estimates the cost of ignition interlock device installations at $70 to $150, plus a monthly fee of between $60 to $80.
  • You are flagged as a high risk driver and may require an SR-22 filing by your insurer. In violations that result in license suspension, SR-22 forms must be obtained from your insurer before a license can be reinstated. Essentially, it’s a red flag signifying that you are a high risk driver. State laws vary, but the average SR-22 spans three years.
  • You could be dropped by your insurer. At the very least, your auto insurance options are more limited.
  • You will pay higher insurance rates over a number of years.
  • You might be subject to alcohol exclusion laws. Currently, 37 states have laws that allow insurers to refuse payment of costs for treating drunk drivers’ injuries.

So far, we’ve only talked about the financial costs of a DUI violation. Impaired driving also puts you and others at a much greater risk of being injured or killed. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2014, accounting for nearly one-third of the nation’s traffic-related deaths. That’s about 28 people every day, or one death every 53 minutes.

It’s vitally important to understand the effects of alcohol on driving. See the 6 stages of getting drunk. Your BAC (Blood Alcohol Count) is a measure of the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. Check out the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Calculator to understand the impairment effects of drinking. There are also a variety of BAC gauging apps that you can get for your phone.

Our best advice? Line up a designated driver in advance or call a cab, an Uber or a Lyft. Impaired driving is not worth it, whatever measure you use!

Snow day toolkit: Shoveling, sharing the road with plows & more


Snow day! Despite many closures in anticipation of a fast-moving storm today, some people still need to be out and about, and most of us will need to deal with the subsequent cleanup. We’ve ferreted through our archives to find some of the best tips we’ve found on cealing wiht the snow safely. And to get you in the spirit, we’re offering a few interesting snow related clips:

Here’s a mesmerizing extreme snow removal video that may make you feel better about a measly 8-14 inches

Snow shoveling 101: Best shovels, best techniques

Sharing the road with snow plows & more winter driving tips

Take care: Shoveling snow can kill or injure you

Snow shoveling and snow removal safety

And after it’s over:
Snowmageddon: Is your roof at risk of collapse?

Are you ready for the Super Bowl?


It’s one of our favorite days of the year, particularly when a hometown team is in the lineup: Super Bowl Sunday! OK, we hate to be a spoiler, but Teddy the prognosticating porcupine holds a 4 to1 record of correctly picking the Super Bowl winners – check out his prediction for this year’s game.

If you have football fever, you might enjoy this post about the first Super Bowl, which took place January 15, 1967 and wasn’t even called “the Super Bowl.” The post is authored by actor/comedian Eddie Dezeen, who delves into the history of the first game between the Green Bay Packers, led by their immortal coach Vince Lombardi and the Kansas City Chiefs, under coach Hank Stram. It was played in the Los Angeles Coliseum to the only non-capacity crowd in the event’s history.

Besides the sport itself, there are a few tried and true traditions associated with the Super Bowl.

Great TV ads – Here’s a preview of some ads that have been leaked already. Plus, don’t miss a selection of five of the most popular Super Bowl ads from all time – real classics!

Amazing snacks – See some of the best all-time stadiums made of food or get some recipe ideas from the Food Network’s Big Game Bash page

NFL Bad Lip Reading videos – here’s the latest

Puppy Bowl – if football isn’t your thing, then tune it to Puppy Bowl for an overdose of cute. All the animals on the show are shelter animals up for adoption. Here are some highlights from over the years

Super Bowl parties. If you are planning to host a Super Bowl party in your home, plan to ensure that your guests will be safe and you can avoid any host liability. The Insurance Information Institute explains:

Social host liability, also known as “Dram Shop Liability” laws vary widely from state to state, but 43 states have them on the books. Most of these laws also offer an injured person, such as the victim of a drunk driver, a method to sue the person who served the alcohol. There are circumstances under these laws where criminal charges may also apply.

At the link above, you can find some tips to promote safe alcohol consumption and reduce your social host liability exposure.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds everyone that Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk, and offers these tips for party-goers and hosts:

  • Designate your sober driver or have an alternate transportation plan before the party begins.
  • If you don’t have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend or family member to come and get you; or just stay where you are until you are sober.
  • Use your community’s sober ride program.
  • Never let friends leave your sight if you think they are about to drive and have had too much to drink.
  • Always buckle up – it’s still your best defense against other drunk drivers.

If you are hosting a Super Bowl party:

  • Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in a drunk-driving crash.
  • Make sure all of your guests designate their sober drivers in advance, or help arrange alternate transportation.
  • Serve lots of food and include lots of non-alcoholic beverages at the party.
  • Stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter of the game and begin serving coffee and dessert.
  • Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys away from anyone who has had too much to drink.

2017 Top Auto Safety Picks from IIHS


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named 82 vehicles as 2017 Top Auto Safety Picks. Of those, 38 earned the Top Safety Pick+, which signifies that they earned good ratings in 5 crashworthiness tests, plus they earn an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.

Criteria for all awards include both crash protection and crash prevention so new technologies play a big role in safety. Automatic emergency braking systems are a prerequisite for earning the Top Safety Pick designation so more and more automakers are adding automatic emergency braking as a standard feature in new cars. Research shows that front or rear crashes are cut in half with automatic braking. Another recent criteria that IIHS has factored in to its picks are headlight performance. They added this after observing a wide variance in the effectiveness of headlights.

You can see a full list of Top Safety Picks by year.  This year, the release notes some of the list’s top performers:

Toyota/Lexus leads manufacturers with nine 2017 Top Safety Pick+ winners, including the updated Toyota Corolla, while Honda and its Acura division pick up five Top Safety Pick+ awards.
 
Among 2017 models, only seven are available with good-rated headlights. They are the Chevrolet Volt small car, Honda Ridgeline pickup, Hyundai Elantra small car, Hyundai Santa Fe midsize SUV, Subaru Legacy midsize car, Toyota Prius v midsize car and Volvo XC60 midsize luxury SUV.

To evaluate a vehicle’s crashworthiness, IIHS conducts five crash tests: moderate overlap front, small overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints & seats. At the link, you can learn more about these tests and see videos.

Here are additional resources from IIHS that are worth consulting before you buy your next car:

Confused? Learn auto insurance basics from these handy tools


Auto insurance can seem confusing – especially for first-time car owners. The first thing that you need to know about auto insurance is that every state has different laws about what is and what isn’t required. So you need to know your own state law. Find a link to your state’s insurance bureau using this map.

It’s not that hard to understand auto insurance basics, but sometimes TV or online ads oversimplify things and make it sound like you can just pay whatever you want or that the cheapest coverage is best. It’s really a balance – too much coverage and you are wasting money; not enough coverage, and you might find yourself in a financial fix should you have a bad accident. A lot of it depends on your personal situation.

Your local independent insurance agent would be happy to explain the ins and outs of auto insurance in your state and help you explore coverage options and any available discounts. But if you’re one of those people who likes to do research on your own first, we’ve found a few great tools to help you learn the basics of auto insurance from reliable and objective sources.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers a A Consumer’s Quick Guide to Auto Insurance, a pdf brochure that is quite good.

The next few tools are from the Insurance Information Institute (III) another good place to start your insurance research on auto or other types of insurance.

First, the handy Auto Insurance Jargon Buster, which explains potentially confusing insurance terminology.

Second is a short video auto insurance explainer:

Third, this infographic is a good reference. It talks about the different auto insurance coverage types. There are simple explanations for each, and at the end of each explanation, there is a line indicating whether the insurance is required or optional. You can click for a larger version.

auto insurance basics