Traffic Tickets In North Carolina: Points, Penalties and a Prayer!

Most of us speed sometimes or "roll" through a stop sign. We text when we should be looking at the road, we forget to use our turn signal, or we just lose focus and drift into another lane. We all take liberties out on the road, and sometimes we get caught. If you get a speeding ticket in North Carolina, you're going to learn a lot! You get to learn all about points, fines, penalties, and even how a "prayer" can get you out of hot water.   But if you want to skip the traffic ticket education first hand, you could get yourself a criminal defense attorney, because they already know all this stuff. Besides, representing yourself in court for a traffic ticket, or any other offense, is not the best idea. You thought leaving late and speeding to make up time was a good idea, so you don't exactly have the best track record!   However you handle your traffic ticket in North Carolina, it's always good to have at least an understanding of what to expect. Here's a rundown of how things work when you get a traffic ticket.   Traffic Ticket Points in North Carolina   North Carolina has two kinds of points for traffic tickets: driver’s license points and insurance points. They stay on your record for three years, and if you get additional tickets during that time, those points will be added to the total. Think of it like golf — the lower your "score," the better. How many points you get depends on what charge you ultimately get convicted for. Driver’s License Points The North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) assigns points against your driver’s license for traffic violations. The North Carolina Driver’s Handbook has a complete list, but here is a sample of some of the most common violations and the points assigned:

  • Passing a stopped school bus – 5 points
  • Following too closely – 4 points
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road – 4 points
  • Failure to yield right of way to other vehicles – 3 points
  • Running through a stop sign or red light – 3 points
  • Speeding in excess of 55 mph – 3 points
  • Speeding in a school zone in excess of the posted school zone speed limit – 3 points
  • Failure to properly restrain a child in a restraint or seat belt – 2 points

If you accumulate seven points, the state may assign you to a driver improvement clinic. And, yes, these are as much fun as you imagine. If you accumulate 12 or more points within a three-year period, North Carolina may suspend your license. Insurance Points Points are assessed for traffic violation convictions and at-fault accidents. Like driver’s license points, insurance points stay on your record for three years and accumulate if you have additional convictions. Although you won't see the immediate impact of insurance points as you do with license points, just wait till it's time to renew and your wallet will definitely feel the impact. Here are some common violations and the corresponding insurance points:

  • Driving while impaired (DWI) – 12 points
  • Speeding to elude arrest – 10 points
  • Reckless driving – 4 points
  • Passing a stopped school bus – 4 points
  • Illegal passing – 2 points
  • Following too closely – 2 points
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road – 2 points
  • Speeding more than 10 mph over the speed limit at a speed between 56 and 75 mph – 2 points

And here's how those points affect your insurance (and your bank account):

  • 12 points – 340% increase
  • 10 points – 260% increase
  • 8 points – 195% increase
  • 4 points – 80% increase
  • 3 points – 60% increase
  • 2 points – 45% increase
  • 1 point – 30% increase

Let's put that in perspective. If you are a driver who finds the following traffic laws challenging, it really doesn't take too much "freestyling" to build up some points. We'll give you the benefit of the doubt and just say you have 10 points. If your insurance premiums are $100 per month, that 260% increase means your rates will increase to $260 per month. That's a lot of money. But wait, we need to do the rest of the math. You're looking at three years of these increased rates so your final tally will be almost $6,000 more than you would have paid. You could hire the most expensive lawyers in Charlotte, NC for that kind of money! (But don't — you need the best criminal lawyer you can find, not the most expensive.) Got a Traffic Ticket? Get a Criminal Lawyer A good criminal defense attorney can do a lot to reduce those unwanted consequences, and could even get your ticket dismissed. These traffic lawyers know the officers, prosecutors, and judges very well and know how to get you the best possible outcome. Here are just a couple of the ways your attorney can help: Reduction Many times, you can get a speeding ticket reduced without even going to court if your case is presented right. For example, if you were charged with going 15-20 mph over the posted speed limit, you might be able to get that reduced to 9 mph over or better. That's fewer points, less money out of your pocket, and a cleaner driving record You might also be able to get a speeding ticket reduced to a non-moving violation or even a revised violation of improper equipment. This means no points would be assessed and your insurance will not increase. Short of dismissal, this is a pretty good outcome. Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC) A Prayer for Judgment Continued is like pleading guilty but not getting a conviction. Depending on the specific charges and circumstances, this could be your way out of points and penalties. With a PJC, the violation stays on your record, but no driver’s license or insurance points are assessed. If your driving record is pretty clean, you may have a shot at this one. Learn more about how a PJC works and what restrictions affect it.   If you received a traffic ticket in North Carolina, contact the Jason H. Reece Law Firm to find out all the other ways you could get out of your ticket and let us put our years of experience to work for you.