It’s only a traffic ticket, what is the worst that could happen?
Many individuals view receiving a traffic violation as just an inconvenience that can’t possibly result in anything bad. Due to this misconception most also believe that because traffic tickets are so minor, the best and most economical recourse is to pay the fine and accept the consequences. Paying a traffic ticket fine is easily done thanks to North Carolina’s automated, online payment system for minor traffic violations. Many traffic citations can be paid conveniently online at any time. While some may believe the online payment option is the best avenue, thinking they are saving both time and money, few fail to realize that by paying the ticket online, they are admitting guilt and accepting the consequences. Consequences can include fines, license points, increases in insurance rates, and in some cases a misdemeanor conviction, license suspension or revocation. Before you pay any traffic ticket and admit guilt, you should contact an attorney about your options to ensure you are making the right decision for you and your driving record.
If you are convicted of a traffic violation in North Carolina, including pleading guilty from simply paying a ticket online, points are placed on your license. Different violations will have different amounts of points that will be assessed, however, acquiring a certain number of points can result in a license suspension for a period of 60 days to 12 months, for example:
- 7 points can mean a driver may be required to attend a driver improvement class.
- 12 points within a three-year period may lead to a license suspension.
- For any driver that has had a prior suspension within 3 years of a reinstatement, receiving:
- 4 points will trigger a warning letter from the DMV and allow the driver the opportunity to attend an improvement class. Successful completion of the class can deduct 3 points;
- 8 points can result in another suspension.
In addition to having points accumulate on your driving record with the NC DMV, traffic violations also result in separate points being placed on your insurance. These are called Safe Driver Incentive Plan points by the N.C. Insurance Commissioner but are commonly referred to as “insurance points”, and they can result in significant insurance premium increases. Insurance points can also be added for any at-fault accidents. And, like license points, the amount will vary depending on the specific convictions received. It may be possible to receive what’s called a “prayer for judgment continued” (or “PJC”) for a violation where, while still a conviction, no license or insurance points are incurred and no fine is assessed. However, PJC is only allowed to avoid insurance points for a driver once every three years. And for insurance points, it’s only once every three years for everyone on the same auto insurance policy. If another violation or at-fault accident occurs within three years of being granted a PJC then insurance points for both incidents will be added. Below is a table of insurance premium increases that can occur when insurance points are added:
- 1 point 40%
- 2 Points 55%
- 3 Points 70%
- 4 Points 90%
- 8 Points 200%
- 10 Points 260%
- 12 Points 340%
Below are some examples of the number of points assessed for the most common moving violations in North Carolina. *Points for commercial vehicles will be different.
|Common Traffic Violation / Conviction||North Carolina DMV License Points
|Passing a Stopped School Bus||5 [Insurance points =4]|
|Leaving the Scene of Accident where there is property damage involved||4 [Insurance points =4]|
|Reckless Driving||4 [Insurance points =4]|
|Following too closely||4 [Insurance points =2]|
|Illegal passing||4 [Insurance points =2]|
|Failure to yield pedestrian or bicycle, scooter, or motorcycle||4|
|Running Stop Sign or Red Light||3|
|Speeding more than 55 MPH||3 [Insurance points for speeding =2-4 depending on the specifics of the violation, except when evading law enforcement which is 10 insurance points]|
|Expired NC Driver’s License more than one year||3|
|Failure to properly restrain a child in an appropriate safety seat||2|
|All other moving violation||2 [Insurance points =2]|
There are numerous other traffic violations that can lead to license suspension regardless of the number of points incurred. These violations include, but are not limited to:
- Speeding more than 15 MPH over the speed limit, when the posted speed limit is over 55 MPH.
- Speeding more than 80 MPH when the posted speed limit is 70 MPH.
- Being convicted of speeding in excess of 55 MPH two or more times, or having been charged with reckless driving and speeding at least 55 MPH within a 12-month time period.
- Prearranged highway racing.
- Driving while impaired charge (DWI).
- Hit and run with injury or death to another person, or property.
- Driving on an already suspended or revoked license.
- Vehicular manslaughter or negligent homicide, and
- Speeding to evade arrest
Receiving a simple traffic ticket can be a headache, however, if handled without the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney it can get really expensive. One ticket has the potential to increase your insurance premiums by 40%, for approximately 3 years. With that must at stake, can you really afford not to get legal advice from an experienced local attorney about how to handle your traffic ticket?
At Hopper Cummings, our attorneys have the knowledge and local experience needed to obtain the best possible outcome for you. We are committed to helping you make informed decisions with honest advice. If you have received a traffic ticket, do not delay protecting yourself from the harsh penalties that can result. Let us help you minimize the impact it will have on your driving record and wallet by contacting us today for a consultation by phone at 919-533-4115 or online by completing our contact form on this website.
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