If you have recently received a citation (ticket) for speeding, running a red light, unsafe movement, improper lane change, or other traffic related matter, you may be inclined to pay the associated fine and court costs and consider the matter resolved. However, depending on the circumstances of your case, the offense(s) for which you are charged, and your driving history, it may be in your best interest to hire a lawyer to fight the charge, or attempt to have it reduced to a lesser charge or a nonmoving violation. In some situations, there may be a basis to have the charge dismissed.
There are several important reasons to challenge a traffic ticket. First, you may want to avoid accumulating points on your driving record. North Carolina’s Safe Driver Incentive Plan (SDIP) is a program designed to promote safe driving by using a system that adds points to your driving record for each traffic conviction, or auto related accident in which you are found to be at fault. The result is that unsafe drivers pay more for auto insurance. In other words, the more points you have on your driving record, the more your auto insurance premiums will increase. Having just one point on your driving record can increase your auto insurance premiums by as much as 30% for a three-year period preceding either the date you apply for coverage or the date the insurance company prepares to renew an existing policy. Some traffic violations have a higher associated point score than less serious violations. For example, a DWI conviction will add 12 points to your driving record which may increase your auto insurance premiums by as much as 340%.
Secondly, you may want to fight a traffic ticket to avoid having your driver’s license suspended or revoked. In North Carolina, your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked for a number of reasons, including the following:
- Point Accumulation: 12 points or more within a three-year period
- Reckless Driving
- Speeding by more than 15 mph over the posted speed limit
- Driving while impaired (DWI), or refusing to take a blood or breath test
The length of suspension of your driver’s license depends on the reason for which it is suspended. For example, a conviction for speeding and reckless driving in the same incident can result in a 30 day suspension of your driver’s license while being convicted of DWI for the third time will result in having your license permanently revoked.
Other important reasons to contest a traffic violation include the following:
- You have been charged with an offense that you did not commit.
- You have been charged with an offense that involved a violation of your rights, such as an illegal stop.
Counties throughout North Carolina handle traffic violations and related offenses in different ways. If you have been charged with a traffic violation or vehicle related crime and decide to dispute the charges in court, it is imperative to find a knowledgeable lawyer to represent you who is experienced in handling such matters. Most routine traffic tickets have a deadline in which a fine must be paid or a court appearance is required. Failure to pay the fine or to appear at the designated court date can result in serious consequences, such as having a warrant issued for your arrest to having your driver’s license suspended. Additional fees and penalties may also be assessed against you.
The criminal law attorneys at the Raleigh law firm of Tharrington Smith represent individuals charged in Wake County, North Carolina, and the surrounding counties, with traffic offenses and related charges, including the following:
- DWI (Driving While Impaired)
- Reckless Driving, Aggressive Driving or Unsafe Movement
- Hit and Run / Abandoning the Scene of an Accident
- Hit and Run / Property damage
- Vehicular Homicide / Manslaughter / Negligent Homicide
- Highway Racing or Prearranged Highway Racing
- Speeding to Elude Arrest
- Zone Infractions
- Failure to Yield, Failure to Stop, Following Too Closely
- Improper Turns, Illegal Passing
- Failure to Obey Emergency Vehicle Right of Way
- Passing a Stopped School Bus
- Improper Equipment
- Driving with a Suspended or Revoked License
- Driving with an Invalid or Without a License, Expired Registration/ Expired Inspection, or No Insurance
- Underage / Unlicensed Driver offenses
Tharrington Smith’s criminal law attorneys are skilled negotiators and experienced trial lawyers who provide effective and efficient legal representation. We understand how losing your license or coping with increased auto insurance premiums can dramatically affect your life. We are committed to advocating on your behalf to help you achieve the best possible outcome.