My auto insurance renewal notice arrived in the mail the other day and I should be happy. My rate is well below the state average.

There are myriad factors that come into play when insurance companies determine how much you will pay, but one thing is for sure: Drivers who make bad decisions while behind the wheel will pay, and sometimes handsomely.

A couple of months back, the personal finance website NerdWallet looked at car insurance rates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and found that Minnesota drivers issued a speeding citation will see premiums rise 14 percent plus the cost of a ticket. Motorists tagged for driving under the influence of alcohol will see their rate jump 29 percent on top of other obvious costs such as possible jail time, legal fees, lost wages and even injury or death.

A Minnesota driver with a clean record pays about $1,330 a year for car insurance, according to the website's analysis. Add in just one speeding ticket and the rate goes up to $1,455. A DWI will push the rate to $1,713.

While that is a lot of money, acknowledges the study's author, Elizabeth Renter, other states see far higher spikes. In North Carolina, rates more than quadrupled — from $872 to $4,076 — after a drunken driving conviction. Premiums jumped 128 percent in California and 126 percent in Oregon.

Nationwide, the average insurance rate goes up 14 percent after a speeding ticket and 62 percent following a DWI arrest.

The bottom line, Renter says, is that blemishes on your record can raise car insurance rates by hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars a year.

"No matter when you get a DWI or speeding ticket, it stands to affect your insurance rates," she said. It's not immediate, but "it will show up the next time you renew."

To come up with her calculations, Renter averaged the three lowest quotes for 30-year-old men and women who drive a 2012 Toyota Camry (a fairly common vehicle) with clean records in 10 ZIP codes in each state. She focused on speeding and DWI because they are common offenses and laws are uniform from state to state, unlike those governing phone use while behind the wheel, which vary.

"If you are 15 miles per hour over (a primary offense), you are 15 miles per hour over," Renter said. "It's the same so we can make a direct comparison."

Of course a good way to keep rates down is to obey the speed limit and not imbibe and drive. But another message, Renter says: Drivers, whether they have gotten a ticket or been in a crash, should shop around.

"It's one of those purchases we make and kind of forget about it until it comes up again," she said. "When you get that annual renewal notice, compare quotes, see if there are any new discounts. Take 10 minutes to do some research before you send that check off. A grand a year is a lot of money and you should be smart about where it's going and what it is doing for you."

Flying Cloud project delayed

Hennepin County this spring had planned to raise Flying Cloud Drive through Eden Prairie and Chanhassen above the 100-year flood plain and minimize potential for road closures during Minnesota River flooding. The project, adding a multiuse trail along the north side of the road between Hwy. 101 and Charlson Road, is still on the drawing board but has no start date, said county spokesman Colin Cox.

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