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Caught at 100 mph -- now what?

  • Story Highlights
  • Different states have different ways of dealing with reckless driving
  • If you've been pulled over, most attorneys will advise you to not admit guilt
  • Do not challenge a ticket once you've been pulled over
  • Your insurance typically won't be affected unless you've been in a crash
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By Craig Howie
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(AOL Autos) -- Basketball phenom LeBron James has one. As does actor Matt Dillon. So, famously, does politician Al Gore's son.

A triple digit speeding ticket results in different punishments in different states.

A triple digit speeding ticket results in different punishments in different states.

You may think it's a Bentley, Benz or even a Prius, or the latest celebrity accoutrement, but we're not talking about that. All of these famous individuals have a speeding ticket citation for allegedly driving above 100 mph.

As the three drivers were cited in three different states, they all face varying combinations of penalty fines, courts fees and possible license suspensions. But even if a prospective fine won't hit LeBron's oversized pocketbook too hard, it often adds up to a pretty penny for the average motorist once an insurance adjustment -- or policy cancellation -- is taken into account.

What does it mean to get caught going triple digits? We take a look.

When you hear about it

Maybe you were driving too fast on a straight section of freeway and heard that ominous siren that means a hefty speeding fine is on the way. Maybe you were opening your mail over a cup of morning coffee and noticed a letter with a funny-looking city insignia on it.

Or maybe you were sitting watching TV when you noticed a police car pulling up outside then heard a knock on the door. However the police got to you -- and it varies by the state you live in - you've now been cited for driving above 100 mph.

Likely police method

Vince Ramirez of the California Highway Patrol says a 100 mph-plus driver may be caught either by radar or by cruiser (known as a "bumper piece"). He says: "Upon a stop, the officer will issue a citation and then it goes to county, where a court determines the fine. He says most offenders are caught on "the outskirts of big cities, high desert areas or rural populations."

Arizona is the only state with a permanent freeway camera system, while others including Florida enforce by aircraft. AOL Autos: Most Affordable Coupes

Know your rights

When you've been pulled over, most attorneys will advise you to not admit guilt, as it may complicate challenging a ticket later. Likely a police officer will ask you how fast you thought you were going, but you are under no obligation to answer. Be polite and do not challenge the ticket right there, as it may annoy the officer, undermining your case.

Do not offer a bribe, a felony offense. There's nothing to stop you asking for a warning only but, at 100 mph or more, it's not likely you'll get it. AOL Autos: Best Looking Cars of 2009

Varying ticket penalties

Penalties vary across states and jurisdictions. In California, for example, a first offender likely will face a fine not exceeding $500, two points on a license and possible jail time. The infraction becomes a misdemeanor if the police can prove a driver was reckless. In Virginia it's a fine of up to $2,500 and mandatory jail time.

Some states like Florida and New York use a sliding scale for speeds up to 50 mph over the limit. Many including Oregon enforce mandatory license suspensions. AOL Autos: Best-Selling American Cars

Reckless driving?

Whether an infraction becomes a reckless driving offense depends on road conditions, how you were driving, the officer serving your ticket and the state in which you received it. Factors include if you were seen making unsafe lane changes or had a passenger in your car (even more so if it's a child). Reckless driving is usually a misdemeanor criminal offense. In Florida, a third offense for driving 50 mph over the limit is a felony. In Virginia, driving above 85 mph is considered reckless.AOL Autos: 10 Best Car Names

The numbers

100 mph citations, case study: Oregon, 2006-2007. Source: Oregon.gov

• 79% of the cited drivers were male.

• 81% of the citations were issued to drivers on freeways, and 19% were issued on secondary state highways.

• The highest percentage age group for male drivers was 20-24 (34%) followed by age group 15-19 (21%).

• For all violators cited, 51% involved drivers ages 15-24.

• In 2005, troopers cited 464 people for driving 100 mph or faster Between 2000 and 2004, troopers cited more the 2,600 drivers.

What about insurance?

Raleigh Floyd at Allstate says a citation "typically won't affect the insurance situation unless it involved a crash." In terms of a policy cancellation or increase, Floyd says it's impossible to determine as "more than 1,000 factors that go into it, including age, past driving record and where you drive."

He says that the offense will appear on DMV records and will be noted for new customers or a policy renewal. His advice? "Slow down for your own safety. You'll also save on gas." AOL Autos: Smaller Cars More Expensive to Insure

Do you need a lawyer?

David Haenel, at Florida's fightyourticket.com, says a lawyer's job is to "explain the legal defense fully and make sure the officer can prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, to the same standard as a criminal case."

He will check that a police radar has been properly calibrated and that citation records written up in a patrol car or aircraft match those on the ticket. More often than not, a driver's financial situation will dictate whether they hire a lawyer.

Repeat offenders

Most states will escalate punishment when a second offense has occurred within a given time period -- often five years. In most states, license suspension becomes mandatory and jail time also lengthens. In the case of a third offense, jail time could be mandatory. Officer Ramirez of the CHP confirms that these offenses are known as "significant abuses" and could merit jail time.

Advice? If possible avoid getting one in first place. And if you get a second or third, look out!

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