Does Your Bumper Sticker Put You at Risk of Being Pulled Over?

We’ve all heard the myth (yes, it is a myth) that drivers of red cars are issued speeding tickets more often than other cars. We’ve been told that tickets riddled with mistakes are null and void, again untrue. But here’s something that’ll make you do a spit take—your choice of bumper sticker is cause enough to get you pulled over.

What-the-what now?

When I got my first car, my parents warned me against plastering my bumper with bumper stickers. According to them, having a unique bumper sticker (or several) would make it easier for people up to no good to recognize my car, whether it was parked at the store, at my job or in the driveway. If they didn’t agree with the message, they could vandalize my car.

As it would happen, police officers look at bumper sticker messages and pull motorists over based on those messages. Here are a couple of examples:

DARE Leads to Arrest

In 2011, a Texas couple was driving down the highway going two miles per hour over the speed limit. An officer pulled them over, and after noting a rosary hanging on the rearview mirror, an air freshener and a DARE bumper sticker, believed they were smuggling drugs. The officer did not find any drugs upon searching the vehicle, but did find a lump sum of cash that he then confiscated. After confiscating the cash, the officer arrested one half of the couple.

At appeal, the judge ruled in the officer’s favor, arguing that through the use of the rosary, air freshener and DARE bumper sticker, they were trying to hide contraband. Again, no contraband was found. And remember what DARE stands for, we learned about it school: Drug Abuse Resistance Education. An officer believed a couple with a rosary, air freshener and an anti-drug bumper sticker were hiding something.

Pulled Over for Buckeye Support

In 2013, a bereft couple was driving home from a funeral when they were pulled over by a police officer. They weren’t going over the speed limit and they weren’t driving erratically. The couple had been pulled over after another officer (not the one who pulled them over) notified two patrol officers that a vehicle with a marijuana bumper sticker was on their route.

The patrol officers flanked the vehicle on either side, and the driver, Bonnie Jonas-Boggioni reported that “they had body armor and guns.” They asked her why she had a marijuana bumper sticker on her car, and she explained to the officers that it was not an image of a marijuana leaf, but was in fact a Buckeye leaf decal. The decal is an exact replica of the stickers Ohio State Buckeye football players receive when they have performed a good play.

In an interview with Think Progress, Jonas-Boggioni stated that “the officer explained that someone from outside his jurisdiction—apparently another officer—had spotted the leaf sticker and thought it might indicate that the car was carrying marijuana.”

Upon realizing the mistake, the patrol officers let the couple go on their way.

As you well know from your years of driving, a ticket can increase your auto insurance rates. It’s not exactly fair to be written up a ticket just because you have a bumper sticker that might be misconstrued as supporting something illegal.

Sites like CoverHound help drivers compare auto insurance rates in real time. You’ll be paired with an agency that understands not all tickets are created equal, and that one ticket shouldn’t cost you an affordable rate.

Have any bumper stickers that might get you pulled over and cost you a ticket?

Personal Injuries: When Insurance Won’t Cover All the Costs

Getting seriously injured is stressful in and of itself. Not only do you have to worry about healing from the injuries and adapting to a new quality of life, but you’ll also have to survive financially. Though there is a great deal of assistance out there for those who have serious injuries, in many cases, it does not cover everything, leaving you to find a way to foot the bill.

Insurance Claims are Not Cut and Dry

Most are unaware of the financial struggles of recovering from an injury. They assume that filing an insurance claim with your car insurance, worker’s comp insurance, or health insurance provider that everything will be covered. However, it’s not always that cut and dry. That’s why when you’re injured, it is recommended that you speak with a personal injury firm such as Siegfried & Jensen to find out what you’re entitled to for compensation.

Reasons Insurance Won’t Pay

You’re at Fault (All or in part) – Unfortunately, if it can be determined that you are the direct cause of your injuries, it may be challenging for you to receive compensation for your medical costs. Unless you live in a “no fault” state, you will be required to pay for the costs out of your own pocket.

Low PIP or Med Pay Insurance Limits – When selecting car insurance, you’re typically allowed to choose the monetary limits the insurance policy will cover for health costs. The issue is that many people choose low Personal Injury Protection (PIP) limits as it is called in NJ or Med Pay in other states, in order to keep the cost of a premium down. So if you or the at-fault party has insurance coverage with insurance limits that are less than the cost of your medical expenses, you’re going to have to pay for the remaining balance on your own.

No Health Insurance – Even if you’re not at fault for the accident, you’re required to pay your medical bills as they accrue. Law only mandates that the guilty party compensate you for any damages in a personal injury suit. Therefore, if you’re dealing with no insurance at all, you could fall back on your PIP insurance or you’ll need to work with healthcare providers that offer payment arrangements.

So How Do I Get Compensation?

Though you will likely be responsible for paying for medical expenses as they occur (until fault has been determined or a suit has been filed), there are avenues you can take to receive reimbursement for the costs you’ve incurred along with any future costs you might have as you seek medical treatment. Below are two of the most common options explained below:

  • File An Insurance Claim – When filing an insurance claim, you’re essentially asking your insurance provider to provide you with financial assistance after an accident. Depending on what state you reside in, your insurance provider will cover the costs of your medical expenses within the limits of your chosen PIP or Med Pay plan. If your insurance company determines the other party is at fault, they will reach out to the guilty party’s insurance provider to be reimbursed for the funds they’ve provided for you.
  • File a Personal Injury Suit – If your injuries are serious, long-lasting, or permanent, you’re going to need a significant amount of assistance financially. Talking with a personal injury attorney will help you to get compensated for any costs relating to the accident, including your medical expenses. Based on the extent of your injuries, the costs you’ve incurred already, and the impact it has on your way of life, a personal injury attorney could get your medical costs paid for the foreseeable future.

Tips to Receiving Maximum Compensation

Depending on your circumstances, you may be required to pay for your health costs and receive compensation at a later day (through one of the methods described above). If this is the case, you’re going to need to be meticulous with your record-keeping and organizational skills:

  • Keep all of your receipts – This includes all of your receipts for co-pay, prescriptions, medical devices, and whatever other expenses that are directly related to your injuries from the accident
  • Get everything in writing – Diagnosis, doctor’s orders, notes, etc. should all be put in writing. You will need this information to show the extent of your injuries and how it will affect your life going forward.

Personal injuries are never fun to deal with, and when they’re serious and long-lasting, it can make the stress multiply. The key is to make sure that you have the right insurance to protect you and save you money in the long run. Keeping good records, and talking with a personal injury attorney can help you in receiving the maximum compensation possible. Though this may not help to heal the physical injuries, it will make recovery a lot easier to deal with.