Frequently Asked Questions About Traffic Tickets

Answered by the Savvy and Experienced Traffic Lawyers at Kurtz & Blum in Raleigh, North Carolina

How will a traffic ticket affect my insurance rates?

Answer:

Depending on the type of violation, the number of violations, your state's traffic laws and your insurance company's policies, a traffic violation might result in increased insurance premiums. In general, receiving only one moving violation (such as a speeding ticket or a citation for running a stoplight) in a given time frame (typically three to five years) will not result in an increased insurance premium. However, more than one moving violation or a car accident in which you were at fault in a given time frame may result in an increased insurance premium.

What does it mean that a traffic violation is a strict liability offense?

Answer:

A strict liability offense is an offense for which proof of "criminal intent" is not necessary for conviction. Stated differently, proof that a traffic violation occurred is typically sufficient to convict the violator. Thus, a driver may be fined for turning into the wrong lane even if he or she did so accidentally; parking next to fire hydrant even if he or she did not see the hydrant; or for an expired parking meter even if he or she did not intend let the meter expire.

What is a "moving violation"?

Answer:

A moving violation is an "infraction of a traffic law while the vehicle is in motion." Black's Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004). Conversely, a nonmoving violation is an infraction of a traffic law while the vehicle is not in motion. In general, the penalties for moving violations are more severe than those for nonmoving violations. Moving violations include offenses such as speeding, drunk driving and failing to yield. Nonmoving violations typically deal with offenses involving parking (parking at an expired meter or in a handicap spot), vehicle maintenance (driving with a broken taillight or a burned-out headlight) or vehicle modifications (nonstandard/under-vehicle lights or window tinting).

Will a traffic violation committed in another state affect my driving record in the state in which I am licensed?

Answer:

In many cases, yes. Most states have signed the Driver License Compact (DLC). The theme of the DLC is One Driver, One License, One Record. Under the DLC, traffic violations issued to driver's licensed in another state are reported to the driver's home state. The home state will then treat the offense as if it had been committed within its borders and apply its laws to the out-of-state offense.

What is a "fix it ticket" or a "correctable violation"?

Answer:

A "fix it ticket" or a "correctable violation" is a type of traffic ticket that might be issued for violations involving vehicle maintenance or vehicle modifications. Vehicle maintenance violations include faulty brakes, cracked windshields, faulty emissions control devices and broken or burned-out lights. Vehicle modification violations include nonstandard/under-vehicle lights, illegal window tinting and ground clearance modifications. A "fix it ticket" fine may be avoided by correcting the violation, obtaining the signature of a law enforcement officer, court officer, DMV employee or other authorized person certifying that the violation is corrected, and paying any administrative fees.

What is a "financial-responsibility act"?

Answer:

A financial-responsibility act, also known as a safety-responsibility act, is a "state statute conditioning license and registration of motor vehicles on proof of insurance or other financial accountability." Black's Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004). For motor vehicle accidents resulting in property damage or the death of or injury to another person, some states will suspend or revoke an individual's driver's license until she or he provides proof of his or her ability to accept financial responsibility.

What are penalties for driving without valid vehicle registration?

Answer:

To lawfully operate a motor vehicle, the motor vehicle must be registered with the appropriate state agency (typically the state's department of motor vehicles) in the state in which the vehicle is primarily used. Proof of registration in the form of license plate tabs or a registration certificate is also generally required. Penalties vary by state and individual circumstances. For example, in many states, the penalty is determined by how long the registration has been expired.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

Answer:

Although many traffic violations are deemed mere infractions, some are misdemeanors, which carry stiffer fines than infractions as well as the possibility of up to one year in jail. The most serious traffic crimes are felonies. Felony traffic violations generally involve repeat offenses or violations that result in injury to persons or property. Felonies have more severe penalties than infractions and misdemeanors, including steep fines and imprisonment for over a year.

What if I lose my license but continue to drive?

Answer:

If a person whose license has been revoked or suspended due to previous traffic violations chooses to drive without a valid license, he or she will probably suffer more serious consequences if pulled over. The more prudent course of action is to rely on friends and family for rides or to use public transportation.

Frequently Asked Questions on DMV Hearings

What if I am still driving but haven’t gotten caught?

Answer:

A DMV hearing officer wants to know that you are not driving at all – for any reason. To win a DMV hearing, it is key to understand that driving in North Carolina is a privilege, not a right. Respecting that privilege is central to restoring that privilege.

What if I lose my DMV hearing?

Answer:

There may be another way to restore your privilege to drive in North Carolina. Many people lose their North Carolina driver’s licenses because they pled guilty to the wrong things at the wrong times. Pleading guilty to driving while license revoked can revoke your license for another year even if you have taken care of the original suspension. Many times, we can re-open old cases where our client pled guilty and re-negotiate a disposition that does not result in further revocation.

At Kurtz & Blum, we thoroughly review your driving record and explain the reasons for your revocation and the steps we will take to end the suspension. If you know your driver’s license number and you don’t know why you’re revoked, give us a call. We offer an affordable driving record evaluation and we can usually get started right away. Understanding the problem can help us find the solution.

Can I have a hearing even if I no longer live in North Carolina?

Answer:

Absolutely. Often, your state of residence will not issue you a license until your suspension is cleared up in North Carolina. You may have to arrange to travel to North Carolina to attend the hearing, but we can often schedule hearings to best fit your schedule. If we are successful, North Carolina will issue you a clearance letter which should allow your home state to license you to drive in that jurisdiction.

If the hearing is successful, will I get a license that very day?

Answer:

Not exactly. Most DMV officers allow only a conditional restoration of your driving privilege. That could mean that you receive a restricted license with a curfew or that you must install an Interlock device on your car requiring that you blow into the alcohol-measuring instrument before the ignition will engage. If your license has been taken for medical reasons, a DMV panel will probably require that you submit to an additional medical exam within one year in order to verify that your medical condition is either in remission or is successfully controlled with drug therapy.

What if I have had a DMV hearing before and not been successful?

Answer:

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That adage has never been more true than with DMV hearings. Many times, citizens walk into a hearing unprepared for the types of questions that the officer asks. At Kurtz & Blum, we believe that the only way to be fully prepared is to be over prepared. If you are serious about doing it right this time, give us a call.

Can I win a DMV hearing if I still drink from time to time but never to excess?

Answer:

You could still be successful at a DMV hearing. The important thing is to prove that you are a responsible drinker who would never get behind the wheel after any amount of alcohol.

What if I am still driving on the sly?

Answer:

DMV hearing officer wants to know that you are not driving at all – for any reason. To win a DMV hearing, it is key to understand that driving in North Carolina is a privilege, not a right. Respecting that privilege is central to restoring that privilege.

What if I have been convicted of Felony Habitual DWI?

Answer:

You can never have a hearing to restore your driver’s license in this state. North Carolina law forbids it.

Our traffic lawyers help people throughout Wake County, North Carolina.  We frequently handle offenses arising out of the following cities: New Hope, Knightdale, Wake Forest, Fuquay-Varina, Zebulon, Raleigh, Garner, Cary, Rolesville, Holly Springs, Apex, Wendell and Morrisville.