For some time now, the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office has dealt with traffic infractions through use of a representative in Courtroom 1B at the Forsyth County Hall of Justice. Recently, however, the number of defendants coming through Courtroom 1B on any given Tuesday or Thursday has increased to the point where defendants are waiting several hours in line to have their matter resolved. Without room for expansion or capacity to alter the process to accommodate the volume of defendants, the Clerk of Court and District Attorney’s Office have decided on a new protocol for handling certain traffic infractions outside of the Forsyth County Hall of Justice.
Specifically, many non-speeding traffic infractions can now be handled via the www.ncfcc.us website, without having to physically appear in court. A list of those infractions that can be handled via the website follows:
No Operator’s License (G.S. 20-7(A)
Expired Operator’s License (G.S. 20-7(F))
Driver’s License not in possession (G.S. 20-7(A))
Failure to carry a Valid Driver License (G.S. 20-7(A))
Failure to notify DMV of address change (G.S. 20-7.1)
No Insurance (G.S. 20-313(A))
Expired Registration Card/Expired License Plate (G.S. 20-111(2))
Failure to Carry Registration Card (G.S. 20-5(C))
Failure to Sign Registration Card (G.S. 20-57(C))
Registration Card Address Change Violation (G.S. 20-67(A))
Expired / No Inspection (G.S. 20-183.8(A)(1))
This list encompasses those infractions which, typically, can be dismissed with a relevant offering of proof. For example, a citation for Failure to Carry Registration Card can oftentimes be resolved by showing proof of registration.
Why not just pay the citation?
There is at least one very compelling reasons to avoid a plea of responsible on one of the charges listed above. Upon entry of such a plea (known as “pleading responsible,” “admitting responsibility,” or sometimes “pleading guilty”), you will be required to pay fines and fees that are listed at the bottom of your citation. The offenses listed above are typically dismissed by an offer of proof, which will save you the $300 or so in fines listed.
Moreover, if you receive a citation for lack of insurance, this citation can result in driver’s license points. A voluntary dismissal of any of these offenses is better than a responsible plea which can remain your driving history permanently.
Can I just ignore the citation? The officer said it wasn’t a big deal…
The unequivocal answer to this question is no. The worst thing you can do with a traffic infraction is ignore it. Failure to respond to a citation or otherwise appear frequently results in a “Failure to Appear” charge. In many cases, a Failure to Appear results in the suspension of your driving license. Moreover, to resolve a Failure to Appear charge, the Clerk of Court will require that you pay an extra $200 fee, assuming you are successful in recalendaring the case.
We have seen this happen to our clients: it is easy to forget about a minor traffic citation like the ones listed above. In some cases, you won’t learn about the failure to appear until you have been pulled over for a subsequent offense and the police officer informs you that, surprise, your license has been suspended. If you think you have a failure to appear, or you have been told that you have one, please give our office a call. We are glad to assist you in the process of recalendaring the case and resolving it. Once it has been resolved, you will be able to ask the DMV to reissue your license, etc.
So, what should I do?
The easiest way to handle one of these traffic infractions is to give our office a call (336-996-4166). Our office has experience in dealing with the new system and handling these kinds of citations. For that matter, you should call our office in the event of a speeding ticket as well. Read here to find out why paying your speeding ticket costs you more in the long run. As always, if you have questions, please give our office a call and ask to speak with Carol Hatjes or Joe Orenstein – we’d be glad to help you through your traffic citation issue.
So, you got a speeding ticket. It happens, even to the best drivers. As you see it, you can either (1) pay the ticket or (2) pay an attorney to “take care” of the ticket. Many people, when faced with the hassle of hiring an attorney and paying the attorney’s fee, choose option number one, make out a check, sadly sign their admission of guilt, and move on with their lives.
Behind the scenes, however, there are forces at work that are costing you money beyond the simple fine and fee you pay with your ticket.
An Illustrative Example
Let’s take the basic eleven over the speed limit ticket in a 55 mph zone. The North Carolina Safe Driver Incentive Plan (SDIP) places two insurance points on your license. The SDIP then requires your insurance provider to increase your insurance premium 45% for the next three years.
That 45% adds up to a pretty sizable chunk of change. If your insurance premium is $1,400 per year, over a three year period you will be paying more than $1,800 over and above your current premium (that’s a premium increase from $1,400 to $2,030 per year).
Do the Math – Speeding Tickets are Expensive
The cost of hiring an attorney is insignificant in comparison to that kind of premium hike. In many cases, an attorney can negotiate a lesser plea that carries no SDIP points, and at a cost far less than the insurance premium hit that awaits in the event you choose option one. It simply makes economic sense to hire an experienced traffic attorney to deal with your ticket—you save yourself a trip to the courthouse and you save money, in the aggregate, over the next three years.
Not Speeding, but Other Traffic Offenses
Police officers do occasionally write tickets for non-speeding offenses as well. If you have received a ticket for driving without a license, driving with an expired registration, no proof of insurance, failure to yield to a stop sign, or others, you may experience the same (or in some cases, a worse) SDIP point impact discussed above. If a police officer wrote you a ticket following an accident or for any of the other non-speeding offenses mentioned above, there are savings to be had in having an attorney help you navigate the waters.
Coltrane Grubbs & Orenstein routinely handles speeding and other traffic tickets in Forsyth and Guilford Counties. We try to make the process as painless and convenient as possible—give us a ring today to help with your traffic ticket dilemma.
Importantly, don’t let your friends and family “just pay” their speeding ticket. Let them know that there are financial implications beyond just the basic fine and fee at the bottom of the page. As always, you can always give our firm a call if you have any questions or need help (336-996-4166).