What do I do if I think I’m going to be arrested?
If you encounter law enforcement and think you could be arrested, stop talking. You get one chance to tell your story and you tell it in front of a jury, not in a police interrogation. You cannot be punished for exercising your 5th amendment right to remain silent!
Other important things you should do to protect your constitutional rights:
- Always be polite and respectful
- Provide the officer with your id or name and date of birth
- Inform the officer that you are not making any statements without your lawyer
- Give the officer your lawyer’s name
- Inform the officer that you are not consenting to any search of your person, belongings, vehicle or house
- Do not discuss your case with anyone except your attorney
Do I have to appear at my court date?
Most traffic citations are what we call “waive-able” offenses, meaning that I can appear for you using a signed court document called a waiver. This document gives me the authority to appear on your behalf so you don’t have to come to court. However, if you are charged with a more serious offense like a DWI or a non-traffic misdemeanor, you should plan on appearing at every court date.
I missed my court date. What do I do now?
Missing your court date is very serious. If left unresolved, you will incur an additional $200 failure to appear fine and your license will be suspended. If serious enough, you might have an order for your arrest. In these cases, it is important to file a motion to get your case back on the docket as soon as possible. In some cases, with a proper reason for missing court, it might be possible to get your failure to appear fine struck.
Why was my case continued?
It is common for your case to be continued if a requirement is incomplete, such as completing driving school or pulling a copy of your driving record. In some cases, your case will be continued if there is a possibility that a better result can be obtained at a later date.
Can I just pay my speeding ticket online?
If your ticket is not too fast, North Carolina lets you pay off certain speeding tickets online or by mail. However, this is rarely a favorable outcome. By paying your citation online, you are pleading guilty to the original charged offense. If the original charged speed is fast enough, this will create a criminal record for you! Most speeding tickets are charged as moving violations, which will not only result in an increase in your insurance rates, according to the NC insurance regulations, but in some cases, could suspend your license.
For example, you’ve received a ticket for speeding 70/55. This citation carries 3 NC Drivers Licenses Points and 2 NC Insurance Points. If you pay this ticket online, NC insurance regulations provide that you will incur a 45% increase in insurance rates over a 3-year period. A ticket like this often could be reduced to a non-moving violation, assuming several other factors are satisfied. Also, if you have had a similar ticket over 55 miles per hour in the last year, paying off this ticket would result in a mandatory suspension of your license.
Is my insurance going to go up?
The only person that can tell you what’s going to happen with your insurance rates is an adjustor with your insurance policy. As attorneys, we’re only allowed to advise you as to what the regulations govern the insurance companies. The best way to avoid an increase in your insurance rates is to get your citation reduced to a non-moving violation or other reduced offense that does not carry any insurance points. Every District Attorney’s office has different policies regarding what they will reduce tickets to. Whether a District Attorney will reduce your ticket to a non-moving violation depends on a number of factors, including: your driving history, original charged speed, among other things. Every case is different and will be determined on a case by case basis.
My license is in another state. What’s going to happen to my license? My insurance rates?
We are only licensed to practice law in North Carolina. We cannot give you any legal advice about your license if it is in another state or any other state’s insurance rates. For that information, you must talk with a local attorney in your jurisdiction and an adjustor for your insurance policy.
How much am I going to have to pay for court costs?
By statute in North Carolina, court costs start at $191. The fine often depends on the judge, but most court costs and fines range anywhere from $191-$266. Very high speeds can have very high fines assessed.
I’m charged with a really fast ticket. Is jail time a possibility?
Under structured sentencing in North Carolina, you can only receive an active jail sentence for a speeding ticket if you have a prior criminal history. However, even without a prior criminal history, you could be placed on probation. This often depends on the class misdemeanor you have been charged with, as well as how many prior convictions are on your record, and the individual facts of the case. Every case is different and will be determined on a case by case basis.
What are points on my license?
Different offenses in North Carolina carry different points for your license. If you acquire too many points, your license can be suspended. In North Carolina, you cannot receive 8 points within 3 years or 12 at anytime or your license will be suspended.
What’s a PJC?
In North Carolina, a PJC stands for “Prayer for Judgment Continued.” This is a special order that the judge can grant for your case that prevents your traffic citation from having any points assessed towards your license or insurance rates. If you are an out of state driver, a PJC might not be a good outcome for your citation. We are only licensed to practice law in NC and cannot advise whether your home state will recognize a PJC. Failure to recognize a PJC could result in a suspension or increase in your insurance rates. Please note, whether or not a judge will grant a request for a PJC is entirely up to the judge and is never guaranteed. You should also have an attorney review your driving history to ensure that you have one to use. It is unfortunately very common to see people who represent themselves in court requesting PJC’s without a copy of their driving history. If a judge grants you a PJC and you don’t have one to use, your PJC’s will cancel out and you will experience an insurance increase for both citations! It is also important to note that when a PJC is granted on a speed that is not reduced, this often results in a conviction on your criminal record, because most high speeds are charged as class 3 misdemeanors in North Carolina. A PJC is a guilty plea. By statute, the judge cannot grant you a PJC if your original speed is in excess of 25mph. Many people often request a PJC but aren’t aware that the District Attorney might reduce their ticket to a non-moving violation, which would preserve your PJC for future use. If you are an out of state driver, a PJC might not be recognized by your home state. The legal analysis of whether a PJC is right for your case is one that should be done carefully. Always consult with a lawyer.
Is my license going to be suspended?
North Carolina has some very strict laws that can often lead to your license being suspended. A very common way that people get their license suspended is by either paying a ticket online or representing themselves in court without a lawyer. The most frequent situations that lead to someone getting their license suspended in NC is if you are convicted of 2 speeding tickets over 55mph within a year (where the speed limit is 55mph or greater), being convicted of speeding over 80mph, getting 8 points within 3 years (or 12 at any time), among several other situations. Always have an attorney review your case to let you know what your options are and, if possible, avoid a suspension of your license.
How do I know if my license is suspended?
You can check the status of your North Carolina license anytime 24/7 by calling the NC DMV’s automated system at: (919) 715 - 7000. However, if you want to speak to a representative, you must call between the hours of 8AM to 5PM, Monday - Friday. You can also instantly pull a copy of your North Carolina driving history online by going here: https://edmv.ncdot.gov/DrivingRecords
How do I get my license back after suspension?
After your suspension period is over, if all other requirements have been satisfied and you have no other outstanding traffic tickets, you can pay a reinstatement fee to the NC DMV. The DMV will then send you a new license in the mail. You can pay your reinstatement fee either in person at any NC DMV driver’s license location or electronically.
To pay electronically, you must create a moneygram account, by going here: https://www.moneygram.com/mgo/us/en/
After creating an account, use the following information for payment:
NCDMV Biller ID #: 18857
Biller Account Number: Your NC Driver’s License Number (without any zeros in the beginning).
The NC DMV’s official license restoration page can be found here: https://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/license-id/license-suspension/Pages/driver-license-restoration.aspx
If my license is suspended, can I get a limited driving privilege?
Your eligibility for a limited driving privilege depends on several factors. First, you must be suspended for an offense or circumstance that allows for a limited driving privilege. You also can’t have had a moving violation in the last year (not including your current citation) or have previously been granted a limited driving privilege in the last 3 years. It is entirely at the judge’s discretion whether to grant a limited driving privilege. You must have valid insurance, no other unresolved traffic matters, and $100 for the filing fee.