Should You Pay Your Traffic Ticket?

Should You Pay Your Traffic Ticket?

By Drew Nelson If you’ve never had the pleasure of being pulled over for a traffic ticket in North Carolina, then count yourself lucky. If you have, then you know all too well the trouble, stress, and aggravation that comes with a traffic ticket. It’s important for all drivers to be well-informed of their options in any traffic case. Knowing common traffic violations – and avoiding them – is one way that drivers can limit the trouble associated with receiving a traffic violation. North Carolina assigns points for certain violations. If those points accumulate, you may have your license suspended or revoked for some period of time. What Are Common Traffic Violations? While it’s not necessary to know every traffic law in the book, it’s important to be aware of the most common traffic violations committed by drivers: Speeding Failure to come to a complete stop (red light or stop sign)Unsafe lane changeImproperly passing a school busParking in a no-parking zone (points are not allocated for most parking violations) Danger in Paying Traffic Tickets A lot of people ask, should I just pay the traffic ticket? Paying for a traffic ticket can sometimes do more harm than good. It’s no fun having to pay a traffic ticket and having that violation on your driving record. When a driver agrees to pay for a speeding ticket or other driving violations, they are agreeing to more than just paying a penalty. Paying the ticket is admitting you are guilty of the offense. In some cases, after a driver has received a ticket, fines can be added. In addition to fines, The...
What are Insurance Points?

What are Insurance Points?

North Carolina uses a point system to encourage safe driving. There are two types of points – driving record points and insurance points – and they are very different. Most people are familiar with driving record points; if you are ticketed or have an accident, you are penalized with points against your license. Too many points and your license is revoked. Insurance points, on the other hand, may result in a hefty insurance rate increase, based on your infraction. The NC Department of Insurance created the North Carolina Safe Driver Incentive Plan (SDIP) to encourage drivers in the state to practice safe driving habits. Insurance points are charged for most at-fault accidents and traffic ticket convictions based on a rigid point scale. If you are ticketed for speeding between 1 and 10 miles per hour over the speed limit in a zone marked 55 MPH or less, you will “earn” one point; passing a stopped school bus earns you four points; driving while impaired (DWI) earns you 12 points. Your insurance rate will increase based on the number of points earned – from a 30% increase for one point to a 340% increase for 12 points. Read more about the North Carolina SDIP and insurance points. There are certain instances where no SDIP points will be charged, including: You have an accident where you are not ticketed that results in property damage only in the amount of $1,800 or less, and no one in the household (on your insurance policy) has received any SDIP points during the prior three years; You were ticketed for speeding less than 10 MPH...
What Happens in Traffic Court?

What Happens in Traffic Court?

By E. Drew Nelson, Attorney Blue lights flashing in your rear window. For many people this serves as a startling reality that they are about to receive a speeding ticket. After the initial shock of getting a speeding ticket, many people are left confused about what they need to do next. When the officer gives you a ticket he or she will typically advise you of your court date and whether you need to appear in court or if you have the option to pay the fine before the court date. Traffic Court or Administrative Court is where you must go to talk to a District Attorney about your case and see what options you have. As with most hearings, there are typically several hundred people on the docket and you could wait in court for most of the day before your case is called by the District Attorney. While it is possible to just go to court without consulting an attorney and simply plead guilty, pay your fines and go on with your life, this could lead to many unintended consequences. Many people are unaware that a basic speeding ticket in North Carolina may come with up to 3 driver’s license and insurance points. License points and insurance points are two totally separate things. If you plead (or are found) guilty of speeding, this traffic conviction will cause your insurance rates to skyrocket and, depending on prior convictions, could affect the status of your license. In addition, you’ll be responsible for paying court costs (typically around $200) plus any fines assessed by the Court. Depending on your speed...
The Basics of DWI Law in North Carolina

The Basics of DWI Law in North Carolina

In North Carolina, a person commits the offense of impaired driving (DWI) when he or she — 1. drives 2. a vehicle as defined in the statutes (excluding a horse) 3. on a highway, street or publicly vehicular area (i.e., a parking lot) 4. (a) while under the influence of an impairing substance, or (b) with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more at any relevant time after the driving, Proving DWI The offense of driving while impaired may be proved in one of two ways: By showing that the driver’s physical or mental faculties, or both, have been appreciably impaired by an impairing substance. An impairing substance means alcohol, a controlled substance, and any other drug or psychoactive substance capable of impairing a person’s physical or mental faculties or any combination of the substances. An impairing substance also includes substances that are neither alcohol nor drugs, if the substance is capable of impairing the person’s faculties. An example of such a substance is the vapor in certain types of glue. The fact that the drug used to cause the impairment is a prescription drug lawfully taken is not a defense, but it can be grounds for a mitigated punishment. Appreciable impairment simply means cable of being perceived, recognized, noticed or apparent. In North Carolina the amount of an impairing substance consumed is not relevant as it may be “a spoon or a quart”. One need not be drunk to be “under the influence” in North Carolina. By showing that the driver’s alcohol concentration is 0.08 or more. To convict under the alcohol concentration prong of the statute, the...
I Got a Traffic Ticket. Now What Do I Do?

I Got a Traffic Ticket. Now What Do I Do?

By E. Drew Nelson, Attorney You see the flashing blue lights and hear the siren behind you. When you realize you’re the one being pulled over, you get that sinking feeling in your stomach. The officer requests your license and registration, then hands them back to you along with a citation. The officer mentions your court date and sends you on your way. If this is your first ticket (or maybe your first in North Carolina), you’re probably thinking, “I got a traffic ticket; what do I do now?” North Carolina utilizes a points system for certain motor vehicle violations. The number of points is based on the action that resulted in the citation. As an example, passing a stopped school bus while its lights are flashing will earn you 5 points on conviction, while driving without the required auto liability insurance mandates 3 points be added to your record. If you accumulate too many points against your record within a 3 year period, your driver license can be suspended or revoked. Do note that a ticket from another state can impact your driving record and insurance rates in North Carolina. Your first inclination may be to simply pay the ticket and court costs and get on with your life. Unfortunately, paying the citation is an admission of guilt and the points assigned for the noted violation will go on your record. No big deal, right? You vow you’ll just be more careful in the future. What you may not know is that your insurance company will raise your rates based on a separate “insurance points” table and the...