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Kluttz, Reamer, Hayes, Adkins & Carter L.L.P.

129 N. Main Street
Salisbury, N.C. 28144

Telephone: (704)636-7100
Fax: (704)636-2284
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Why a Traffic Attorney?

North Carolina has adopted a system whereby every moving violation is assigned a point value under two different systems. The first of these systems is the driver's license system. This is the point system that the Division of Motor Vehicles follows for determining when driver's licenses are suspended for an accumulation of points.

The second system is the insurance points system. The insurance points system is part of something known as the Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP) which establishes classifications of drivers based on their history of accidents and convictions for violations. The SDIP as approved and modified from time to time sets the basic automobile insurance rates. Each point total has its own surcharge, or percentage increase in insurance premium, which follows a conviction of that offense. I suggest you always check that site for this most current information.

I should stress that both of these points systems apply only to North Carolina licensed drivers. If you are licensed in a different state, the Division of Motor Vehicles in that state determines what, if any, points system applies and what the consequences of each moving violation will be on your privilege to drive and/or your insurance rate. This may only be determined by consulting with an experienced, skilled traffic practitioner in your own home state, as I do not purport to provide information on insurance consequences or driver's license consequences on any state other than North Carolina.

North Carolina Driver's License Point System

Points are given for the following offenses:

Conviction:

Points:

Passing a stopped school bus loading or unloading children

5

Reckless driving

4

Hit and run, property damage only

4

Following too closely

4

Driving on the wrong side of the road

4

Illegal passing

4

Running through stop sign

3

Speeding more than 55 mph

3

Speeding through a school zone

3

Failure to yield right of way

3

No driver's license or license expired more than one year

3

Running through red light

3

Failure to stop for siren

3

Speeding through safety zone

3

Failure to report accident where such report is required

3

No liability insurance

3

All other moving violations

2

Littering involving a motor vehicle

1

Points given for conviction of violations while operating a commercial motor vehicle:

Conviction:

Points:

Passing a stopped school bus

8

Rail-highway crossing violation

6

Reckless driving

5

Hit and run, property damage only

5

Following too closely

5

Driving on wrong side of road

5

Illegal passing

5

Running through stop sign

4

Speeding more than 55 mph

4

Failure to yield right of way

4

Running through red light

4

No driver license or expired for more than one year

4

Failure to stop for siren

4

Driving through safety zone

4

No liability insurance

4

Failure to report accident where such report is required

4

Possessing alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a commercial motor vehicle

4

All other moving violations

3

Littering involving the use of the motor vehicle

1

North Carolina Insurance Point System

No. Of Points:

12

Manslaughter or negligent homicide
Prearranged highway racing or lending a car for prearranged highway racing
Hit-and-run resulting in bodily injury or death
Driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or more
Driving commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .04 or more
Driving while impaired
Transporting illegal intoxicating liquor for sale

10

Highway racing or lending a car for highway racing
Speeding to elude arrest

8

Driving during revocation or suspension of license or registration

4

Reckless driving
Hit-and-run resulting in property damage only
Passing a stopped school bus
Speeding in excess of 75 mph when the speed limit is less than 70 mph
Speeding in excess of 80 mph when the speed limit is 70 mph or greater
Driving by a person less than age 21 after consuming alcohol or drugs

3

At-fault accident resulting in death or bodily injury* in excess of $1,500 or property damage $2,500 or more**

2

Illegal passing
Following too closely
Driving on wrong side of the road
At-fault accident resulting in property damage in excess of $1,500, but less than $2,500**
Speeding more than 10 mph over the speed limit provided the total speed is in excess of 55 mph, but less than 76 mph

1

All other moving violations
At-fault accident resulting in bodily injury* of $1,500 or less, or property damage of $1,500 or less**
Speeding 10 mph or less in excess of speed limit of less than 55 mph

*No SDIP points will apply for Bodily Injury if the insured furnishes proof that costs were solely for diagnostic purposes.

**The greatest number of points will be applied for at-fault accidents resulting in Property Damage and Death or Bodily Injury

Insurance Surcharge Per Point

Point:

 

Surcharge:

1

30%

7

165%

2

45%

8

195%

3

60%

9

225%

4

80%

10

260%

5

110%

11

300%

6

135%

12

340%

Data Source: Motor Vehicle Law and the Law of Impaired Driving In N.C.

It should be noted that I have used the term "moving violation" as compared to "ticket," "charge" or "citation" or "conviction." Under North Carolina law only moving violations carry insurance points or license points. That is why my first objective in any case is to determine whether an appropriate non-moving violation is available as an alternative.

Let me give you an example of just how serious a traffic matter can be. When traveling South on Interstate 85 from Raleigh to Charlotte you pass, within the space of a few miles, from a 70 MPH zone into a 65 MPH zone into a 55 MPH zone. Assuming for the purposes of this example that a person was traveling at what they thought was 9 MPH over the posted speed limit of 70 MPH ( a common practice) and they missed the speed limit changes (another common occurrence) and their speedometer was off a little (also common), he ends up being charged with speeding 81 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. If he shows up for court and pleads guilty as charged (reasoning that, since he is guilty he should plead guilty) he faces revocation of his license for one year, an increase in his insurance premium (based on four insurance points) of 90% per year for the next three years, plus an additional surcharge whose amount depends on the county of residence.

Presuming the driver to be paying $ 1,000 per year for liability insurance, the new insurance bill would be $1,900 per year. If the policy had previously been ceded to the reinsurance facility (not uncommon if there were any other tickets or accidents in the past three years), then the total bill might be considerably higher, perhaps up to 52% higher. It would also result in the loss of a clean criminal record, as this is a misdemeanor charge.






F.A.Q.'s about Traffic Attorneys

Why do I need a lawyer?

There are many things you never knew that you never knew about handling a traffic ticket, as I have illustrated above. Without at least consulting with an experienced traffic lawyer who is familiar with the local rules of court and the practices of the local district attorney and the local judges, you are going into court literally blind as to the available remedies and consequences.

Do I have to show up for court? My ticket says I can mail in the money.

You do not have to show up for court, but mailing in the money is an admission of guilt that will result in a conviction to the charge shown on the ticket. You should never simply pay off a ticket without speaking with an experienced traffic attorney first. The consequences can be severe.

Aren't there any cases I can handle myself?

Occasionally, there are circumstances where you can handle a ticket on your own. I will tell you what those cases are and give you the option of having me do it for you, if you simply do not want to go to court, or handling it yourself. Even then you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you are handling the case correctly, knowing what the outcome and consequences should be before you get to the courthouse, and being prepared to meet them.

But won't the District Attorney make me a deal anyway, even without a lawyer?

The prosecutor might offer you a "deal" and he might not. In any event, he is not allowed by law to give you legal advice because he is your opponent. Neither he nor the judge can advise you on what you should do, or what the consequences are, should he make you a plea offer and you accept it, and he can not tell you what remedies are available and what is the best thing to ask for. As a final concern, he does not have to know the driver's license and insurance consequences of each charge, so you run the risk of getting a bad result even from a well-meaning prosecutor.

But I could save money by doing it myself, can't I?

There is a reason people pay attorneys to handle traffic tickets. Making the wrong decision could cost significantly more in increased insurance premiums than any attorney fee you could be charged. As an example, a lady told me of this experience she had which illustrates the point. She had heard that if your ticket was only 9 MPH over the speed limit, then your insurance would not go up. She got two speeding tickets in the space of 13 months. She went to court herself and got both tickets reduced from speeding 69 MPH in a 55 MPH zone to speeding 64 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. As a result, her insurance went up a total of four points, virtually doubling. If she had come to me to handle the tickets, she would have had no points on her license or insurance.

By my estimate, she cost herself roughly $ 3,000 to save a couple of hundred dollars in attorney fees.

How bad could it really be if I do mess it up?

Really bad, as illustrated above. Not being able to drive for up to a year and paying thousands of dollars more in insurance premiums is pretty bad. Most of us need to drive to be able to work, take care of our children and run our households. Anything that can affect that should be taken very seriously.

What are "points"?

As I have explained above, there are two types of points in North Carolina: license and insurance. Since it takes 12 driver's license points to revoke a license for accumulation of excessive points (though there are many other ways to lose it), most people are rightly more worried about insurance points than the driver's license points. Insurance costs are high enough without the steep increases that accompany convictions of moving violations.

Why should I hire you to handle this ticket for me?

I have successfully handled thousands of traffic tickets and understand the interplay between the two points systems. Because I understand how important the case is to you and how valuable a driver's license really is. Because it really is not something everyone understands how to do. Because I do understand what the local rules are and know what to ask for in any given situation and know how to get it, if possible. Because other attorneys ask me for my advice in handling their tickets. Because I believe that no one can get a better result for you than I can.

I got letters from several other attorneys, offering low fees. Why shouldn't I choose one of them?

This is one area where you really get what you pay for. The letters you get usually do not tell you everything you need to know about court costs and fines, leaving you the impression that they can resolve your case for just the quoted attorneys' fee. You should question how that these attorneys, who are usually from another county, can afford to drive here to properly handle your case and if they can really be familiar enough with the local practices to know what the best possible result is for your case. You should also know that the difference in attorneys’ fees is usually in the neighborhood of $100 or less.

I have decided I want to hire you. How does this work?

My goal is to maximize your convenience while getting the best possible result. I am happy to meet with you in person to discuss the matter, or will handle it by telephone, mail or e-mail as best suits your schedule and your circumstances. I will send you a waiver of appearance form to sign and have notarized so that I may appear on your behalf and you will not have to appear in court, and ask you to send back a copy of your ticket, the signed waiver and the money quoted for your particular ticket. If you need additional time to come up with the money, I can usually arrange for that by continuing your case. If you are an out-of-state resident, I may need to get you to sign an authorization form so that I can obtain your driving record from your home state. Then I take care of the case, pay the fines and costs on your behalf out of the money you have sent me, and send you a letter telling you the outcome of the case.

If I hire you do I still have to show up for court? My ticket says I do.

Usually (almost always) I can handle it by waiver without you having to be there. For those few cases where you would have to appear in court, I will always tell you what cases those are and remind you of your court date in writing.

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