Frequently Asked Questions About Traffic Tickets
Answered by the Savvy and Experienced Traffic Lawyers at Kurtz & Blum in Raleigh, North Carolina
I received a traffic ticket, will my insurance go up?
Whether your insurance will increase due to a traffic ticket depends on the type of ticket you receive, whether you have any previous traffic convictions on your driving record within the last three years, and the result you obtain in court. Insurance rules can be very complicated, so it’s important to hire an experienced attorney to help you obtain the best result.
Click here to learn more about the impact of traffic violations on insurance.
What does it mean that a traffic violation is a strict liability offense?
For you to be found guilty of an offense, the State must prove you committed every element of the traffic violation beyond a reasonable doubt. Many offenses in North Carolina require the individual to have “criminal intent,” that is, the person meant to (specifically intended to) commit the crime. However, some offenses do not require that a person intended to commit the crime, but only that the crime was in fact committed.
Most traffic violations, like speeding, do not require criminal intent. When intent is not a required element it is considered a strict liability offense. Therefore, to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the State does not have to prove you intended to speed, but only that you were in fact speeding.
What is a "moving violation"?
A moving violation typically means an offense that relates to the vehicle being in motion. For example, speeding is a moving violation. Whether the North Carolina DMV characterizes an offense as a moving violation is very important for insurance points, DMV points, and sometimes your ability to keep your license.
There are instances when it is critical that you do not plead guilty to a moving violation depending on your driving record, so we strongly encourage you to hire an attorney to help you navigate your case properly.
Will a traffic violation committed in another state affect my driving record in the state in which I am licensed?
Whether a traffic conviction in another state will affect your driving record in the state in which you are licensed depends on if the state where you are licensed has signed the Driver License Compact (DLC), which stands for the concept of One Driver, One License, One Record. Under the DLC, traffic violations issued to drivers licensed in another state are reported to the driver's home state. The home state will then treat the offense as if it occurred there, and record it on your driving record.
North Carolina has signed the DLC. Therefore, if you’ve committed a violation in another state, we advise you to hire an attorney in that state to attempt to negotiate a reduction and confirm with a North Carolina attorney on the effect it will have here. If you have received a letter from the DMV stating your license will be revoked based on an out of state conviction, this is something we can help you with.
What is a "fix it ticket" or a "correctable violation"?
“Fix it tickets” or “correctable violations” are terms used to described tickets that the District Attorney’s Office will typically dismiss with proof that the underlying problem has been “fixed.” For example, the District Attorney’s Office may dismiss a ticket for an expired registration with proof that the registration has been renewed.
What is a "Financial-Responsibility Act"?
The Financial Responsibility Act (also known as the Motor Vehicle Safety and Financial Responsibility Act of 1953) requires every registered motor vehicle in North Carolina to maintain liability insurance, so in the event a collision, damages will be covered. The theory behind this Act is to avoid victims of accident collision to not have an insurance policy to pay for their damages.
What are penalties for driving without valid vehicle registration?
Driving without a valid registration may result in a ticket and further investigation by the officer if he or she suspects another crime has been committed, such as drunk driving. Officers often search drivers’ license plate numbers while on the road.
If you drive without a valid registration, it’s possible you could get pulled over and receive a ticket even if you are not committing any other traffic violation. Therefore, it’s important to keep your registration up to date to avoid being stopped by a police officer.
What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
Typically, a misdemeanor is a crime that carries a maximum sentence of less than one year in jail and a felony is a crime that carries a sentence of more than one year in jail. However, there are exceptions. For example, Driving While Impaired (DWI) is a misdemeanor that can carry more than year in jail, depending on the surrounding circumstances.
In North Carolina, individuals charged with a misdemeanor offense are not initially entitled to a jury trial. If you are charged with a misdemeanor and choose to proceed to trial, the trial will be in front of a judge who will decide if you are guilty or not guilty. However, if you are found guilty of a misdemeanor and you appeal your case within ten days of the verdict, you are entitled to a jury trial on appeal in superior court.
If you are charged with a felony and choose to proceed to trial, then your trial will be in front of a jury.
What if I lose my license but continue to drive?
We highly recommend you do not continue to drive if you lose your license. If you continue to drive while your license is revoked, there is a high likelihood you will be pulled over if a police officer runs your license plate because they will be able to see that your license is revoked, if the car is registered to you.
Additionally, if you receive a moving violation conviction such as speeding during a time that your license is revoked, the DMV will revoke your license for another year. There are many circumstances where we may be able to fix the problem with your license so that you can get it back and there are also cases where you may still be able to drive during a period of revocation with a Limited Driving Privilege.
If your license is currently revoked and you’d like to know if we can help get you driving privileges, please give us a call!
Frequently Asked Questions on DMV Hearings
What if I am still driving but haven’t gotten caught?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.