Time to answer some questions from readers. Send yours to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q Is there a way to avoid having a speeding ticket or other traffic violation go on my driving record?
A This has been a common question recently. And, yes, there is a way to keep a traffic violation such as a speeding ticket from being reported to your insurance agency.
It's called a "continuance for dismissal" (CFD). You usually have to see a hearing officer to qualify. Go to the address listed on the back of the ticket or call for information. Expect to wait in line, often more than an hour, although you might be able to make an appointment for a future time.
Not everyone qualifies for a continuance. Generally, you can't have been cited for driving more than 15 to 20 miles per hour above the speed limit. You must have a driving record without violations for one to three years, depending on the prosecuting guidelines where you received the ticket. The petty moving violation must not have involved an accident, and no other continuances can be pending.
After you receive a continuance, you must remain ticket-free for one year, or the new and the old violations will be reported to insurance companies. Twenty-two percent of those who received petty misdemeanors in Ramsey County suburbs and saw a hearing officer received a CFD disposition, said Mona Ross, court operations manager of the suburban branch in Ramsey County.
Some cities charge extra ($70 in addition to the amount of the ticket in Hopkins, for example) for the benefit of the violation not going on your record, said Wynn Curtiss, a city prosecutor in Hopkins.
Some municipalities, such as New Brighton and Mounds View, don't allow continuances, but the list is growing smaller. Eden Prairie, Richfield, North Oaks and Little Canada now allow continuances. Offering them is one way to unclog the courts, Curtiss said.
Not every insurance company adds a surcharge for one ticket. Ask your agent what the increase would be, if any, before deciding to try for a continuance.Going for the gold
Q Will Gold Guys really beat anybody's price quotes when buying gold? Will it beat Enviro-Chem?
A Enviro-Chem in Rogers (763-428-4002, www.enviro-chem.bz) pays more upfront for gold than any Twin Cities buyer I have found.
A week ago, I brought them a 10-karat high school class ring and was given a value of $204.54 ($21.51 per pennyweight) at Enviro-Chem. At the Gold Guys in Maple Grove, a buyer named Ryan offered $168 ($17 per pennyweight).
Then I pulled out the written price quote from Enviro-Chem and asked Ryan to honor Gold Guys' price guarantee. He agreed to pay me about 10 percent more than the Enviro-Chem quote, or $226.
I took the ring back to Enviro-Chem to sell because I believe in supporting the business that gives higher prices upfront.
But Gold Guys did honor its promise to beat any competitor's price by 5 to 10 percent. Spokeswoman Teri Knight said Gold Guys will beat any quote, even by phone, although the buyer I dealt with misinformed me that a written quote was required.
If you're wondering if this a good time to be selling gold, it is. In November, the same class ring would have netted me $120 to $150. Gold prices were at $1,100 per ounce then. Last week, they were $1,234 an ounce.Get AV cables cheaply
Q What's the name of the Twin Cities source that sells inexpensive HDMI cables and other audio-video accessories?
A My Cable Mart (7887 Fuller Rd., Suite 105, Eden Prairie, 952-486-8736, www.mycablemart.com) sells 6-foot gold-plated HDMI cables for $6.82 each, while many other retailers sell them for $30 to $130. My Cable Mart does not have a storefront, only an order desk. Phone or online orders can be shipped or picked up in Eden Prairie. The store carries more than 1,200 home-theater accessories, including HDMI, optical and component cables. If you're unsure which cable you need, their staff can help you.