Staff Photo: Michelle Floyd
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Unit visited the three Newton County high schools Wednesday afternoon to hand out hundreds of coupons for free Chick-fil-A sandwiches to students, staff, parents and other drivers who were wearing their safety belts. Pictured is a Newton County Sheriff’s officer giving a coupon to Newton High School Coach Camiel Grant, who was wearing his safety belt when he left school for the day. Those who were not wearing their safety belts were given a verbal warning on Wednesday.
If you got a ticket this year, forgiveness is just a passing grade away.
You can now take an online or in-person class to keep your insurance company from hearing about a minor traffic ticket and keep points off of your record.
"Once we receive notice that a person has had a traffic violation, we'll send them notice that they're eligible to take part in this program and they'll have 60 days in which to complete the program," said Fred Woodhams, a spokesperson for the Michigan Secretary of State.
The Lansing Area Safety Council is one of only ten providers in the entire state that can offer the new class.
"It's been crazy, phones are ringing off the hook," said Suzy Carter of the Lansing Area Safety Council. "Folks who have never heard about[us] are calling us and starting to build a relationship with us so it's been great."
Drivers who take the class stand to save a good chunk of change.
"They'll not be automatically surcharged, so yeah, they'll come out ahead to the point that they're premium [would've gone] up more than the $100 they pay on the course which is the maximum under state law," said Pete Kuhnmuench, executive director of the Insurance Institute of Michigan.
The market price is a lot lower than that $100 maximum though. Prices for in-person classes are around $75 and prices for the online class range from $39 - $60 in a survey of current providers. Carter says classroom options take 6 hours and online options take 4 hours.
There are some catches however. This is a once-in-a-lifetime class, meaning If you use it once you can't take the class again. More serious traffic violations aren't eligible. If you have three points or more on your license already, you're not eligible.
And even if you meet all of those requirements, you still have to pay for any court fees and the fine from the ticket itself.
Woodhams termed this as a win-win for the state and drivers because Michigan gets $17 from class fees paid and drivers save on insurance rates. In two months of the program existing, 1,151 people have used the program.
The program is not revolutionary. Many states, including Florida and California offer similar opportunities for drivers to avoid points from minor tickets. The market for providers has become very saturated. In Los Angeles County alone, 313 different online and in-person options exist for drivers.
A list of the ten current class providers can be found here: http://services.sos.state.mi.us/courseprovider/vendorlist.aspx