Racing your automobile on city streets could increase your insurance premiums

Gina Roberts-Grey
How many times have you been tempted to race another driver when you’re both idling at a stop light and it turns green? If you follow that temptation, you could be going down a costly road.
Cops may perceive your pedal-to-the-metal move as racing. If you get a traffic ticket for racing, you could face hefty fines and higher auto insurance premiums.
Ordinarily, being nabbed for speeding can jack up your auto insurance rates by about 15 percent, says Kevin Alsup, vice president of insurance at Foundation Financial Group in Florida. The exact increase depends on the severity of the ticket.
Racing can do even more damage to your auto insurance rates because most states classify it as reckless or aggressive driving. “Aggressive driving is definitely frowned on by insurance companies,” says Mike Coleman, a State Farm agent in Alabama.
A ticket for reckless or aggressive driving could boost your auto insurance rates by as much as 25 percent, according to Coleman. It even could prompt your insurer to not renew your policy.
In California, for example, a ticket for reckless driving can stay on your record for at least five years. In most cases, most auto insurance companies would decide not to renew your policy once a reckless driving citation pops up on your driving record, says Steve Brooks, president of B&B Premier Insurance Solutions Inc. in California.
What constitutes 'racing'? 
So, what’s the difference between speeding and racing?
You're typically speeding when you're driving faster than the posted limit. However, that normally involves just one car -- your own. On the other hand, “racing refers to engaging in a speed contest with another driver,” says Wayne Ziese, law enforcement liaison at the California Office of Traffic Safety.
Both speeding and racing can be extremely dangerous, but racing carries a greater risk for crashing -- and a greater potential for a traffic ticket and a higher auto insurance premium. Furthermore, if someone is injured or killed as a result of racing, the "racer" could be charged with a felony. “That means potential time in state prison,” Ziese says.
Where racing is costly
Of course, experts advise you to resist the urge to race. But here, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are the 10 states where you really don't want your inner Mario Andretti to come out.
1.   Washington
Get caught racing around Washington’s roads, and you’re looking at up to one year in jail, a $5,000 fine and a one-year license suspension.
2.   Virginia 
Racing will earn you a maximum of one year in jail, a $2,500 fine and a two-year license suspension.
3.   Massachusetts 
The mandatory time behind bars -- two weeks to two years -- is what earns the Bay State a spot on this list. That’s on top of a fine of $20 to $200 and at least a 60-day license revocation.
4.   California 
Cracking down on racing is a priority in the land of fun and sun. In California, racers face a maximum of 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and a six-month license suspension.
5.   Illinois 
Racing in the Land of Lincoln hits you where it hurts the most: your wallet. A racer can be slapped with a fine up to $1,500 as well as a one-year license revocation and a 30-day jail sentence.
6.   Alabama 
In Alabama, your "sweet home" could be a jail cell for 90 days if you're found guilty of racing. In addition, you could be fined as much as $500 and get your license suspended for six months.
7.   Arizona 
Racing through Arizona's wide open spaces could leave you wide open to trouble. The penalties for racing in Arizona: Up to one year behind bars, a $1,000 fine and a one-year license suspension.
8.   Georgia 
Things aren't so peachy for racers in Georgia. If you fall into that category, you could spend a year in jail, pay a $1,000 fine and have your license suspended for five years.
9.   Indiana 
Indiana is home to the Indianapolis 500, but that doesn't mean the state goes easy on run-of-the-mill racers. The maximum penalty for a racer in Indiana: 180 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and a one-year license suspension.
10.  Nebraska 
In the Cornhusker State, a racer can be hit with six months in jail, a $1,000 fine and a six-month license revocation.

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