Receiving a speeding ticket or traffic ticket can be a huge and expensive hassle. Often times, it can cause you to miss work, or school to appear in court. Depending on how it is resolved, it can lead to expensive increases in your insurance costs or even the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
Before you handle your speeding ticket or traffic ticket yourself, relying on information from a friend or family member, (or, even worse, the officer who gave you the ticket) you should consult with a knowledgeable and experienced defense lawyer. At Jetton & Meredith, we represent people accused of a wide arrange of traffic violations all across the state of North Carolina. These offenses include:
If you received a traffic ticket, it means that you have been cited for a traffic infraction or a traffic-related misdemeanor. You have been given a court date at which time you must appear before the court. If you plead guilty or are found guilty of a traffic infraction or misdemeanor, a North Carolina motorist can be assessed two different types of points, driver’s license and insurance points. If you fail to appear in court we can help.
Driver’s License Points:The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles maintains a record of convictions and automobile accidents (for those in which the police are called) for every person licensed or required to be licensed.The NCDMV will assign points for convictions of North Carolina’s Motor Vehicle Laws in accordance with the schedule below. If you accumulate 12 or more points within a three-year period, the NCDMV may suspend your license. The first suspension of your driver’s license under the point system shall be for no more than 60 days. The second suspension shall not exceed six months and any subsequent suspension shall not exceed one year. If you are in danger of losing your license because you have accumulated too many driver’s license points, the NCDMV may allow you to attend the Driver Improvement Clinic and have three points removed from your record. This, however, does not remove the points from your insurance. You can only take this Driver Improvement Course once every five years.Once your license has been suspended, you can face a second suspension of your license if you accumulate eight or more points during the three-year time period immediately following the reinstatement of your license. If you are convicted of two or more traffic offenses that were committed on a single occasion, then you will only be assessed driver’s license points for the offense having the greater point value.North Carolina Schedule Of Points – www.ncga.state.nc.us 3-4-2005
Schedule of Driver’s License Points
Points are only assessed for convictions of violations that take place within the state of North Carolina and if you have a North Carolina driver’s license or if that state transfers the ticket to the NCDMV under a compact. If you have an out-of-state driver’s license, the NCDMV will only maintain a record concerning an out-of-state driver if a ticket is issued against that driver in North Carolina. If your state of licensure is a reciprocal state with North Carolina under the compact, then North Carolina may notify your state of licensure of the conviction. Your license will then be dealt with in accordance with your state’s law. However, the NCDMV can suspend the driver’s license of any North Carolina operator if he or she is convicted of an offense in another state, which if committed in North Carolina would be grounds for suspension or revocation of his or her license. N.C.G.S. ¤20-16(7)
If you have an out-of-state license and commit an offense that is suspendible or revocable in North Carolina, the NCDMV cannot suspend your driver’s license but can suspend or revoke your privilege to drive in North Carolina. It will also notify your licensee state that may take additional action.
If you receive a notice from the NCDMV concerning suspending or revoking your driving privilege in North Carolina, you are entitled to a hearing if you follow the guidelines and procedures set out in the notice. Some offenses are suspendible without an opportunity for a DMV hearing. If that is the case, there is the possibility of obtaining a limited driving privilege through the court system.
The automobile liability insurance rates that are paid by licensed drivers in North Carolina are determined by five factors:
- The basic North Carolina automobile insurance rates that are set out in the North Carolina Personal Automobile Manual. Also see the NC Rate Bureau.
- Insurance points that they have accumulated during the past three years for moving violations and accidents.
- Whether their insurance company has transferred their coverage to the reinsurance facility.
- What region of North Carolina they live in.
- Whether they have three years or less driving experience.
North Carolina drivers will be assessed insurance points if convicted of a moving violation or if they have an at-fault accident during a three-year experience period. This three-year period is determined to be the three-year period immediately preceding the date of application, or the date of preparation of renewal of your insurance policy. A conviction includes pleas of guilty, no contest, suspended sentences, forfeiture of bail and the payment of court costs and a fine. Each household may receive one Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC) every three years without it counting as a conviction. Prayer for Judgment Continued upon the payment of costs, without more, does not constitute the entry of judgment. N.C.G.S. ¤15A- 101 ( 4a) 3-4-2005
Table of Insurance Points
*Points are not assigned for these violations unless the same driver has been convicted of at least one other moving violation during the experience period (the last three years).
The number of insurance points a driver receives will determine the surcharge that will be added to his or her insurance costs. See the surcharge table below:
Insurance Surcharge Table
For one-point accidents, ($1,800 or less) there is no surcharge assessed if:
- The operator was not convicted of a moving traffic violation in connection with the accident.
- No licensed driver in the owner’s household has a conviction for a moving traffic violation or any other at-fault accident during the three-year period immediately preceding the date of application or the date of preparation of renewal of the policy.
- There was no personal injury.
If you receive a citation for a traffic offense in connection with a traffic accident, you may be able to avoid conviction on that charge(s) by obtaining a letter from your insurance company stating that it has assumed financial responsibility for the accident. When presented with such a letter, many District Attorneys will dismiss the charge(s) against you. In the event that you are convicted of a moving violation in connection with a traffic accident you will not be assessed points for both the moving violation and the accident. The higher of the surcharge points will be assigned to you.
The Reinsurance Facility
After points, the second major factor affecting the cost of liability insurance is whether a motor vehicle owner has been transferred (through a process known as “ceding”) to the North Carolina Motor Vehicle Reinsurance Facility. The Reinsurance Facility is a nonprofit legal entity consisting of all insurers engaged in writing motor vehicle insurance in North Carolina. Its purpose is to provide liability insurance for drivers or vehicle owners whom companies do not wish to insure as part of their regular voluntary business. In brief, it is a method of transferring the risk of loss from the individual insurance company to all insurance companies.
North Carolina law makes no provision regarding which individuals are to be ceded to the Reinsurance Facility. The decision belongs entirely to each particular insurance company. If an applicant for motor vehicle liability insurance is, for any reason, considered an undesirable risk by the company, it may cede the applicant to the Reinsurance Facility even though the person has a clean driving record. In other words, it is possible for a person who has never received a traffic citation or had an accident to be ceded to the Reinsurance Facility. Obviously, those with bad driving records are prime candidates, but a company may transfer anyone it considers a bad risk for any reason. Reportedly young drivers, the elderly, and some occupational groups often fall within this category. There is no appeal process, but applicants may seek coverage with another company that would not cede them to the Reinsurance Facility.
Because the Reinsurance Facility has many high-risk drivers, the SDIP provides that it may charge a higher base rate than is allowed in the voluntary market. But insureds ceded to the Reinsurance Facility who are clean — meaning, for this purpose, that no one on the policy has any points and no driver on the policy has less than two years’ driving experience — pay the same as other policy holders with clean driving records who have not been ceded. However, a driver in the Reinsurance Facility who had insurance points pays more than 50 percent higher. And those drivers pay the surcharge for their points on top of that higher rate.
Table 3 shows the base cost for insurance before any surcharge for points is added when the insurance is handled as regular business (that is, not ceded to the Reinsurance Facility). Table 4 shows the comparable base cost for an owner with points whose policy has been ceded to the Reinsurance Facility.
The third factor determining a person’s automobile liability insurance costs is where the person lives in North Carolina. The state is divided into 19 territories, each with its own base rate. The cost of insurance varies considerably from territory to territory. For example, the base cost for $100,000/$300,000 bodily injury coverage for a motor vehicle owner with no points is $170 in Asheville (Territory 11), while the identical coverage in Charlotte (Territory 52) is $311. For a vehicle owner whose policy has been ceded to the Reinsurance Facility (and who has even one point, therefore paying the higher Reinsurance Facility base rate), the cost for the same coverage would be $252 in Asheville and $521 in Charlotte (plus, in each case, the surcharge for the points). Table 5 lists the areas covered in the nineteen territories.
Age and Sex
A fourth factor that can raise an insured’s liability insurance cost is inexperience as a driver, which usually correlates closely with age. The 1975 Session of the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation intended to prohibit insurance rates from being based on the ages or sex of the insured. Specifically, G.S. 58-3-25 provides: “No insurer shall . . . base any standard or rating plan for private passenger automobiles or motorcycles, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, upon the age or sex of the persons insured.” But the youngest drivers typically pay higher insurance rates (or have their parents pay the higher rates for them), because the surcharge is added to policies that cover drivers who have fewer than three years’ driving experience as a licensed driver. (The surcharge is not added when a member of the household begins driving under a learner’s permit; and time spent driving on a learner’s permit does not count toward the three years). For most drivers, the surcharge is applied from age 16 to 19, causing its impact to be felt most by young people and those who pay the insurance for young people, but the same rule would be applicable to a 50-year-old if that person had no previous driving experience. This surcharge approximately doubles the cost of liability insurance on the car the inexperienced driver “principally operates.”
This is general information about traffic and insurance points and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice as it relates to your particular situation. Consult with our office to discuss how your particular facts relate to the law.
If you are facing a traffic-related charge, it is important to understand the law and how it may apply to you. The attorneys at Jetton & Meredith welcome the opportunity to assist you and help you understand the charges you are facing.
Please contact us today speak with one of our attorneys.