A common question asked to me during a consultation for a traffic citation is “Why should I pay you to go to court for me when I could just pay my fine and be done with it.” It’s a fair question, as some times, a fee for a North Carolina Traffic Citation is less than it would cost to hire an attorney to challenge the citation in court. However, besides the fee, a citation usually comes with additional consequences-which are not always apparent to the individual who receives it. There are a couple of major reasons why hiring an attorney to represent on your traffic offense may be a wise choice:
1. YOU MAY REDUCE THE RISK OF LICENSE REVOCATION OR SUSPENSION BY THE DMV
In North Carolina, traffic citations result in a certain amount of “DMV points “which attach to the offenders licenses. Different citations carry different points, depending on the severity of the office. For instance, the offense of driving without being licensed ( “NOL”)carries 3 DMV points, while driving too fast for conditions carries 2 points. These points are not just arbitrary. If a driver accumulates 12 or more points within a three year period, the DMV may suspend their license. A first time suspension may be up to 60 days, a second suspension will last up to six months, and subsequent suspensions could last up to a year.
Once a driver has had their license suspended, they can only accumulate 8 points on their license in three years before they face another suspension.
The following is of traffic offenses and corresponding DMV points(PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS MAY NOT BE A COMPREHENSIVE LIST AND POINT VALUES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE):
- Violation of restriction on driver’s license – wearing glasses, etc. – 2 points
- Violation concerning license ( such as No Operator License)- 3 points
- Failure to obey policeman or authorized person – 2 points
- Failure to stop for a red light – 3 points
- Failure to stop for a flashing red light – 3 points
- Failure to yield half of roadway to oncoming vehicle – 3 points
- Improper passing – overtaking vehicle on left – 3 points
- Improper passing on the right – 3 points
- Improper passing on the left – clear distance ahead – 3 points
- Improper passing on a hill – 4 points
- Improper passing at a railroad crossing or intersection – 3 points
- Improper passing at a bridge or tunnel – 3 points
- Improper passing in a non-passing zone – 3 points
- Following too closely – 3 points
- Failure to yield to driver on the right at intersection – 3 points
- Failure to yield to oncoming driver when making left turn – 3 points
- Failure to stop at stop sign – 3 points
- Failure to yield at yield sign – 3 points
- Failure to yield when entering or crossing roadway between intersections – 3 points
- Improper turning around – illegal U-turns – 3 points
- Failure to stop for flashing red lights or gate at railroad crossing – 3 points
- Failure to stop when entering from alley, driveway or building – 3 points
- Failure to stop for school bus with flashing red lights and stop arm extended (60 day suspension) – 5 points
- Driving too fast for conditions – 2 points
- Exceeding maximum speed:
- 6 to 10 – 2 points
- 11 to 15 – 3 points
- 16 t 25 – 4 points
- 26 to 30 – 5 points
- 31 and over – 5 points
- Exceeding special speed limit in school zone – 3 points
- Failure to yield to pedestrian in cross walk – 2 points
- Improper backing – 3 points
- Careless driving – 3 points
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage only – 4 points
As you can see, accumulating 12 points on your license is easier than you might have imagined. This is another reason why attempting to get your citation reduced to the smallest amount of points possible, or even dismissed all together, is oftentimes a wise idea. It is important to keep in mind that sometimes it is not possible to get your citation reduced or dismissed. If you are unsure or even just curious, it is a good idea to speak to an attorney about case.
2. IT COULD SAVE YOU MONEY IN THE LONG RUN!
In North Carolina, in addition to DMV points, traffic offenses often carry insurance points. Insurance carriers may vary in their assignment of points for certain offenses, but generally, if the DMV has assigned points to your license, your insurance carrier will do the same. More points usually mean higher insurance rates. Insurance companies may add “surcharges” to your premium based on the amount of points that you receive. For example, the surcharges may follow a schedule such as the one below:
One point- 25%
So, while it may be frustrating to pay an attorney to handle your ticket upfront, it could end up saving you money by preventing your insurance premiums from soaring.
If you are unsure about your traffic offense and what consequences it may carry, speak to an attorney about your case. We at Gorman Law Firm have experience and much success in achieving successful outcomes for our clients who face traffic charges. Call our office to schedule a consultation today!