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Understanding the Impact that Traffic Offenses Can Have

Updated on October 9, 2013

In a perfect world, it would be ideal if everyone who has a license to drive also understood every law that relates to having that license. Not only is it expected that the driver knows all of the laws in the state where they acquired the license, but in any state or regional location where they are driving.

The reality is that we are human beings and we do not necessarily retain all of the information that is available and laws are no exception to that retention level. What may be remembered for a driverâs licensetest may be forgotten decades (or even months) after that same test is passed.

The Traffic Offense

In cases where a driver is pulled over and given a ticket, it is not unusual for the driver to feel an urge to argue their case with the officer giving the ticket. Many times, there is a feeling of defensiveness and a desire to take care of the issue there on the spot. There may also be a sense that the traffic violation is insignificant. In that case, if that viewpoint happens to cause the officer offense, it may affect the level of severity for which the ticket is written. For example, if there is a difference between nine miles over the speed limit and 11 miles over the speed limit, there may be some discretionary level for the officer and how he or she writes the ticket. A negative attitude may affect that experience with the officer. By understanding that there are attorneys available to help in instances of traffic violations (whether “guilty” or “innocent”), an individual has the opportunity to approach the situation in a calm manner, receive the ticket, and contact a criminal attorney to assist with the next steps. A criminal attorney that specializes in interpreting traffic laws would be a better choice to handle this situation versus handling it oneself and potentially making the situation (and the consequences) worse.

The driver may think it is “just” a speeding ticket, but he or she runs the risk of costs that can rise to the level of hundreds or thousands of dollars. This is especially true when factoring increased insurances costs when the driving record is affected. There are also other consequences that can occur in cases of repeated traffic violations. If you live in North Carolina, understanding the North Carolina “point system” will help you to be better prepared in the case of a traffic violation. To keep your driver’s license from being suspended and to keep those insurance costs down, the advice of a criminal attorney is essential in traffic court cases.

North Carolina Point System

There are many different types of traffic offenses in North Carolina. These offenses can accrue “points” on one’s driving record. These points, when added up, can make the difference between the suspension of the driver’s license and keeping the license. Traffic offenses on North Carolina’s Drivers’ Point System include speeding, reckless driving, illegal turns, driving without a valid license, leaving the scene of an accident, and running a red light.

When these traffic offenses occur, it can seem a minor inconvenience, only to be determined later that there are long term effects with these points. These points accumulate and the accumulated points have consequences, including suspension and affecting insurance rates, based on these points.

In North Carolina, these points then go against the driving record of the individual. For example, “littering involving a vehicle” costs one point against the license, whereas “passing a stopped school bus” costs five points. The accumulation of 12 points in a three-year period could result in a license suspension. In the case of this example, passing a school bus twice and littering twice in three years could put you in the position of not having the right to drive in North Carolina. If it is your first suspension, it could last 60 days, at which point, assuming your suspension is lifted, you start with a clean record with no points against your driving record. If the person has had a license suspension in the past, a second suspension may be up to six months. A third suspension could be up to 12 months.

If a license is suspended, there is a process to getting the driver’s license reinstated. This process usually involves completing the time for the suspension, paying all fees (including the reinstatement fee), and applying for the reinstatement of the license. Understanding the impact that a traffic violation can have on your pocketbook, your driving privileges, and your life, is important. A person need not be alone in trying to decipher this impact and should contact a qualified criminal attorney to assist in navigating the court system when it comes to traffic violations.

About the Author

Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.

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