Common Questions and Helpful Answers About NC Criminal and DWI Charges

It is natural to have many questions and concerns when charged with a crime in North Carolina. These charges can have serious consequences and long-lasting effects on those charged with their families, so they need reliable answers quickly. Here, Todd Browning and Howard Long share their answers to many of these tough questions. Find out their thoughts on DWI, traffic charges, and many other crimes.

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  • How do police decide who to stop for drunk driving in Charlotte?

    Police officers in Mecklenburg County and North Carolina Highway Patrol are trained to look for numerous visual clues and driver behavior patterns when deciding whether to make an investigative stop of a drunk driving suspect. These visual clues, identified by a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study on impaired drivers, help officers determine if there is enough reasonable suspicion to justify pulling you over for DWI.

    Outside of DUI checkpoints, police must have reasonable suspicion to legally stop you for drunk driving. 

    How Police Determine Reasonable Suspicion for a DWI Stop

    The visual clues identified by the NHTSA fall into one of the following four categories:

    1. Problems Maintaining Proper Lane Position
    2. Speeding and Braking Problems
    3. Vigilance Problems
    4. Judgment Problems

    Visual clues used to identify Problems Maintaining Proper Lane Position include:

    • Weaving within a lane
    • Weaving across lane lines
    • Straddling a lane line
    • Swerving
    • Turning with a wide radius
    • Drifting
    • Almost striking a vehicle or other object

    Visual clues used to identify Speeding and Braking Problems include:

    • Stopping problems (too far, too short, too jerky)
    • Accelerating or decelerating for no apparent reason
    • Varying speed
    • Slow speed (10+ mph under limit)

    Visual clues used to identify Vigilance Problems include:

    • Driving in opposing lanes or wrong way on one way
    • Slow response to traffic signals
    • Slow or failure to respond to officer’s signals
    • Stopping in lane for no apparent reason
    • Driving without headlights at night
    • Failure to signal or signal inconsistent with action

    Visual clues used to identify Judgment Problems include:

    • Following too closely
    • Improper or unsafe lane change
    • Illegal or improper turn (too fast, jerky, sharp)
    • Driving on other than designated roadway
    • Stopping inappropriately in response to officer
    • Inappropriate or unusual behavior (throwing up, arguing)
    • Appearing to be impaired

    If an officer observed you exhibiting any of these behaviors, he may be legally justified in stopping you for drunk driving, but not always. For example, if you make an illegal turn, you have likely violated the law and an officer is likely justified in stopping you on that fact alone. On the other hand, if you were weaving within your own lane only, an officer is not likely going to be justified in stopping you. When a DWI stop is based on the driver weaving within a lane, North Carolina law generally requires weaving within a lane plus some other fact in order for an officer to make a stop.

    Find Out if Your Charlotte DWI Could be Dropped

    If an officer did not have a legal justification for pulling you over, it may be possible to have your drunk driving charge dismissed based on that lack of reasonable suspicion. If you have been arrested for DWI in the Charlotte metro area, contact a Mecklenburg County DWI defense attorney at Browning & Long, PLLC for a free consultation to evaluate your case and assist in making this determination.

     

  • Will my NC driver’s license be suspended if I refuse to blow or if I'm arrested for DWI?

    It depends. There are numerous instances where your driver's license will be revoked by North Carolina’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for issues involving or related to driving under the influence. The most common scenarios where the DMV will revoke your driver’s license is when you (i) willfully refuse to submit to chemical analysis (i.e. breath or blood test), (ii) are charged with and/or arrested for driving under the influence, or (iii) are convicted of driving under the influence.

    License Suspension for Willful Refusal to Breathalyzer or Chemical Testing

    The laws of most states, including North Carolina, highly encourage a person suspected of driving under the influence to submit to chemical analysis (i.e. breath or blood test). Such laws do so through the consequences implemented when a person refuses such testing. Specifically, North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S.) 20-16.2(a)(1) informs a driving under the influence suspect that they may refuse any chemical test, but doing so will result in their driver’s license being revoked for a period of one year, and in some cases even longer.

    This often means that if you refuse a chemical test, your driver's license will be revoked for one year. It's important to know the difference between the various breath-testing instruments and the consequences of refusing to blow in these devices. For example, an alcohol screening test, often referred to as a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT), is a breath test that is typically administered roadside before you are arrested. Refusing to submit to this test is not considered a willful refusal and will not revoke your driver's license for a period of one year. Thus, an alcohol screening test is not considered a chemical test for this purpose. However, a breath test using the Intoxilyzer 5000 or Intox EC/IR II, as well as a blood draw, are considered chemical tests. If you refuse to submit to these tests, your driver's license may be revoked for a period of one year. The Intoxilyzer 500 and Intox EC/IR II are generally administered after you have been arrested and left the scene.

    License Suspension After Being Charged and/or Arrested for DWI

    Under North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S.) 20-16.5(b), a person driving under the influence is subject to civil revocation of their driver’s license if the following applies:

    1. A law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed an implied consent offense;
    2. The person is charged with an implied consent offense;
    3. The law enforcement officer and the chemical analyst comply with the procedures of G.S. 20-16.2 and G.S. 20-139.1 in requiring the person's submission to or procuring a chemical analysis; and
    4. The person
      • Willfully refuses to submit to the chemical analysis;
      • Has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within a relevant time after the driving;
      • Has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more at any relevant time after the driving of a commercial motor vehicle; or
      • Has any alcohol concentration at any relevant time after the driving and the person is under 21 years of age.

    When your driver's license is revoked under N.C.G.S. 20-16.5(b), the minimum period of revocation is either 30 or 45 days depending on when your driver’s license was surrendered. If your driver’s license is surrendered within five (5) working days of the revocation (generally the day you were charged), the minimum revocation period is 30 days. If your driver’s license is not surrendered within five (5) working days of the revocation, the minimum revocation is generally 45 days from the date you surrender your driver’s license. Additionally, if you have a pending driving under the influence charge or other implied consent offense, your driver's license will be suspended indefinitely until all pending charges are resolved.

    License Suspension After a Drunk Driving Conviction

    A conviction for driving under the influence results in a mandatory revocation of a person’s driver’s license by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) under North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S.) 20-17(a)(2). The length of such driver’s license revocation largely depends on whether you have any prior impaired driving convictions, and if so, the amount of time that has passed since those convictions.

    More information: License Revocation and Restoration After a DWI Conviction in Mecklenburg County

    Contact Our Charlotte DWI License Restoration Lawyers

    If your driver’s license has been revoked due to one of the three common scenarios discussed under this question, it is important to remember that there are often circumstances where a you may be able to legally drive with a limited driving privilege. A DWI defense attorney at Browning & Long, PLLC can assist you in getting you back on the road as soon as possible.

  • What factors will the court consider when sentencing me for a DUI conviction in Mecklenburg County?

    If you have been convicted of DUI in Mecklenburg County, the level of punishment of you will face is determined by the existence and balancing of what are called grossly aggravating factors, aggravating factors, or mitigating factors. Several of the following legal terms can be difficult to grasp, so it's always best to consult with a DWI defense attorney if you've been charged.

    Grossly Aggravating Factors for DUI Sentencing

    Grossly aggravating factors are seen as more serious than aggravating factors. The State must prove any grossly aggravating factor beyond a reasonable doubt. With that, the first step in determining the level of punishment you will face if convicted of DUI is to find out whether any grossly aggravating factors exist.

    Four grossly aggravating factors:

    1. A prior conviction for a DUI related offense (See N.C.G.S. 20-4.01(24a) for the list of offenses) if:
      • the prior conviction occurred within seven years of the current DUI offense date;
      • the prior conviction occurred after the current DUI offense date, but before or at the same time as the sentencing in the current DUI case; or
      • the prior conviction was in District Court, the conviction was appealed to Superior Court, the appeal was withdrawn or the case was remanded back to District Court, and a new sentencing hearing for the case has not been held.
    2. At the time of the current DUI offense, you drove while your driver’s license was revoked and the revocation was for a DUI revocation under N.C.G.S. 20-28.2(a).
    3. Your DUI caused serious injury to another person.
    4. At the time of the current DUI offense, you drove while:
      • A child under the age of 18 years was in the vehicle
      • A person with the mental development of a child under the age of 18 years was in the vehicle; or
      • A person with a physical disability preventing unaided exit from the vehicle was in the vehicle.

    Aggravating Factors for DUI Sentencing

    As mentioned, aggravating factors are considered less serious than grossly aggravating factors. However, like grossly aggravating factors, the State must prove any aggravating factor beyond a reasonable doubt. When there are no grossly aggravating factors, or where grossly aggravating factors exist but the judge decides to consider any aggravating and mitigating factors as well, the next step in DUI sentencing is to determine whether any aggravating factors exist.

    Nine aggravating factors:

    1. Gross impairment of your faculties while driving or an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more.
    2. Especially reckless or dangerous driving.
    3. Negligent driving that led to a reportable accident.
    4. Driving while your driver's license was revoked.
    5. Two or more prior convictions of certain motor vehicle offenses for which at least three points are assigned or which subject your driver’s license to revocation, if the convictions occurred within five years of the current offense, or one or more prior convictions of an offense involving DUI that occurred more than seven years before the current offense.
    6. Conviction under N.C.G.S. 20-141.5 of speeding to elude.
    7. Conviction under N.C.G.S. 20-141 of speeding by at least 30 miles per hour over the legal limit.
    8. Passing a stopped school bus in violation of N.C.G.S. 20-217.
    9. Any other factor that aggravates the seriousness of the offense.

    Mitigating Factors for DUI Sentencing

    After determining whether any aggravating factors exist, the next step in determining the appropriate level of punishment in DUI sentencing is to see if any mitigating factors exist. It is your burden to prove the existence of any mitigating factor by a preponderance of the evidence.

    Eight mitigating factors:

    1. Slight impairment of your faculties resulting solely from alcohol, and an alcohol concentration that did not exceed 0.09 at any relevant time after the driving.
    2. Slight impairment of your faculties, resulting solely from alcohol, with no chemical analysis having been available to the defendant.
    3. Safe and lawful driving at the time of the offense, except for the DUI.
    4. A safe driving record.
    5. Impairment caused by a lawfully prescribed drug for an existing medical condition, and the amount of the drug taken was within the prescribed dosage.
    6. Voluntary submission to a substance abuse assessment and voluntary participation in the recommended treatment.
    7. Completion of a substance abuse assessment, compliance with its recommendations, and simultaneously maintaining 60 days of continuous abstinence from alcohol consumption, as proven by a continuous alcohol monitoring system.
    8. Any other factor that mitigates the seriousness of the offense.

    DUI/DWI Sentencing Levels of Punishment

    The determination of the appropriate DWI sentencing level of punishment involves balancing the presence of any grossly aggravating factors, aggravating factors, and mitigating factors mentioned above. The chart below summarizes the six sentencing levels and the corresponding punishments authorized by N.C.G.S. 20-179.

    Aggravated Level One

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    Three or more grossly aggravating factors Up to $10,000 If suspended, must require 1-imprisonment of at least 120 days; AND 2-alcohol abstinence of at least 120 days to a maximum of the term of probation, as verified by CAM.
    Imprisonment: 12 months minimum to 36 months maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level One

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    1. Grossly aggravating factor in N.C.G.S. 20-179(c)(4); OR
    2. Two other grossly aggravating factors
    Up to $4,000 If suspended, must require 1-imprisonment of at least 30 days; OR 2-imprisonment of at least 10 days and alcohol abstinence and CAM for at least 120 days
    Imprisonment: 30 days minimum to 24 months maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level Two

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    One grossly aggravating factor Up to $2,000 If suspended, must require 1-imprisonment of at least 7 days; OR 2-alcohol abstinence and CAM for at least 90 days
    Imprisonment: 7 days minimum to 12 months maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level Three

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    Aggravating factors substantially outweigh any mitigating factors Up to $1,000 If suspended, must require one or both of the following: 1-imprisonment for at least 72 hours 2-community service for a term of at least 72 hours
    Imprisonment: 72 hours minimum to 6 months maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level Four

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    No aggravating or mitigating factors or aggravating factors are substantially counterbalanced by mitigating factors Up to $500 If suspended, must require one or both of the following: 1-imprisonment for 48 hours 2-community service for a term of 48 hours
    Imprisonment: 48 hours minimum to 120 days maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level Five

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    Mitigating factors substantially outweigh aggravating factors Up to $200 If suspended, must require one or both of the following:
    1-imprisonment for 24 hours
    2-community service for a term of 24 hours
    Imprisonment: 24 hours to 60 days maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

     

    Contact Our Charlotte DUI Lawyers if you have questions regarding a DWI arrest in Mecklenburg County by calling 980-224-4482.

     

  • What could happen to me if I am arrested for DWI with a minor child in my vehicle?

    Young Child in the Back Seat of a Car After the Driver Has Been Arrested for DWIDWI is punished harshly in North Carolina and can have long-term consequences in your life. However, your sentence can be even more severe if you are arrested for DWI with a child present in your motor vehicle.

    Enhanced Penalties You May Face for DWI With a Child Present in Your Vehicle

    In 2011, “Laura’s Law” was signed into law. It was named after Laura Fortenberry, a 17-year-old teen killed in 2010 in an accident with a drunk driver who had been convicted of DWI three times in the past. Under this law, there are increased fines and penalties for subsequent DWI convictions and more severe penalties when a child is in the vehicle of a person arrested for driving while intoxicated.

    Driving while intoxicated with a child present is considered a grossly aggravating factor that will automatically result in the second harshest level of punishment, which is a Level One punishment. Three types of passengers can result in these enhanced penalties:

    • Child under 18 years old
    • Individual with the mental capacity of a child under 18 years old
    • Individual with a physical disability that would prevent him from leaving the vehicle at the time the driver was intoxicated

    If convicted of DWI, a person can face these Level One punishments:

    • A minimum jail sentence of 30 days up to a maximum of two years
    • A fine of up to $4,000
    • Driver’s license suspension of one year with no possibility of restricted driving privileges

    What Should You Do If You Are Arrested for DWI With a Child Present?

    If you have been charged with DWI and had a child under 18 years old present in your car, one of your first steps should be to retain an experienced DWI attorney in Charlotte immediately. A skilled lawyer can help you mount a strong defense—even if you are guilty—that can result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense with less severe penalties. To learn about our extensive experience in these cases and how we can assist you, call our Charlotte office to schedule your appointment today.

     

  • Do I have to tell my employer about my DWI arrest?

    An Employee Telling His Employer About a DWI ArrestYou face a number of harsh penalties and long-term consequences if convicted of DWI in Charlotte. A possible jail sentence, fines, suspension of your driver’s license, and a permanent criminal record are a few. Another immediate worry that you may have is whether or not you have to disclose your DWI arrest to your employer and how this could affect your job.

    Are You Required to Report a DWI Arrest to Your Employer?

    Fortunately, it is not a requirement of most jobs that employees disclose a DWI arrest. However, there are a few situations when disclosing this information is required:

    • Employee contract or handbook. Some employers have a provision in an employee contract or handbook requiring employees to disclose certain criminal offenses. It is important to read the applicable contract or handbook sections to determine what offenses must be disclosed and whether the requirement is to tell the employer about an arrest or a conviction.
    • Certain jobs. Truck drivers, postal workers, air traffic controllers, and other employees who drive for their job may have a duty to disclose a DWI arrest to their supervisor for insurance purposes. In addition, individuals in the military must report a DWI to their chain of command.
    • Security clearance. Some security clearances require employees to report a DWI arrest. It is important to review the security clearance paperwork to determine if this is a condition of the security clearance.
    • Company car. Employers often require employees who drive a company vehicle to disclose DWI arrests because of insurance issues.
    • Professional license. Individuals who have a professional license, such as a doctor, lawyer, nurse, dentist, pharmacist, and real estate agent, may have to report an arrest for DWI to their licensing board. However, some licensing boards only require this when a license is issued or renewed.

    Should You Disclose a DWI If You Do Not Have to?

    It will depend on your individual circumstances on whether you want to voluntarily discuss your arrest with your supervisor or boss. If your company does periodic background checks on employees where this information would be discovered, you may want to be honest and tell your employer. This can allow you to discuss the circumstances of your arrest in the best possible light.

    Have you been arrested for DWI in Charlotte? Our experienced DWI attorneys can help you build a strong defense to the charges you face and determine whether you must report your arrest or conviction to your employer. Call our office to schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • How do I waive a traffic ticket?

    In North Carolina, you are often required to attend a court hearing where a judge sets your fine and other punishments if you receive a traffic ticket. However, in some cases, you can waive a traffic ticket, which is a way that you can resolve your traffic ticket without the need to attend a court hearing.

    Three Options for Waiving a Traffic Ticket in Charlotte

    When you are waiving a traffic ticket, you are pleading guilty and paying the fine and costs before the scheduled court hearing. You can only waive certain offenses, and there are currently over 40 traffic violations that qualify. Some examples include exceeding a safe speed, not wearing a seat belt, not yielding for a pedestrian, and failing to yield at a stop sign.

    You have three ways to waive your traffic ticket. Your traffic ticket should state whether the infraction is waivable and include waiver instructions. Here is how you can do this:

    • Online. You can waive your ticket online through the North Carolina Judicial Branch’s online services. You would need to pay the fine and costs with a credit or debit card before your court hearing date.
    • In person. To waive your ticket in person, you must sign the waiver portion of your traffic ticket in front of the court clerk or magistrate and pay what you owe. You can pay by cash, certified check, cashier’s check, money order, credit card, or debit card.
    • By mail. You also have the option of waiving by mail. To do this, you must date and sign the waivable part of your citation and mail it with your payment to the Clerk of the Superior Court of the county where you were ticketed. The address to mail the signed citation and your payment to should be listed in the waiver instructions on the ticket. You can only pay by certified check, cashier’s check, or money order.

    How to Decide Whether to Waive a Traffic Offense

    While you may believe it is easier to just waive a traffic offense and pay the fines and costs that you owe, this may not be in your best interests. Besides the hefty fine you must pay, you could face long-term consequences, such as points on your driving record and increased insurance costs.

    Before making a decision on whether to fight a traffic ticket or waive it, you should consult with an experienced Charlotte traffic ticket lawyer. You may have defenses, even if you are guilty, that can result in the ticket being dismissed or reduced to a less serious infraction. Our lawyers can explain your options to you and may be able to represent you at your court hearing so that you do not need to attend it. To learn more, call our Charlotte office to schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • What can I do if I cannot afford to pay my traffic ticket?

    Yellow Ticket Signs in a PileTraffic tickets are treated very seriously in North Carolina. Unless an infraction is a minor one that is a waivable offense, you will need to attend a court hearing to find out the fine you must pay. You can face even harsher penalties if you ignore the ticket or do not pay the fines within the time period set by the judge.

    What to Do If You Cannot Afford to Pay Your Traffic Ticket in Charlotte

    Fortunately, you do have options if you have low income and truly cannot afford to pay your traffic ticket. Here’s what you should do in this situation:

    • Request a reduction. If you have proof of your income that shows that you cannot afford to pay the ticket amount, you can provide this documentation to the judge and ask for a reduction in the amount of your fine or a payment plan. A number of North Carolina jurisdictions allow alternate payment plans.
    • Obtain an extension. If you need to wait until your next paycheck or until you receive other anticipated funds to pay your ticket, you can request an extension to pay the fine. You may need to provide documentation when asking for this.
    • Ask about traffic school. The judge may permit you to take a traffic school course instead of paying all or part of your ticket. However, it is important to ask the judge about this option before paying to enroll in a class because this is not always an option.
    • Offer community service. You may be able to perform community service instead of paying your fine if you cannot afford it. Again, it would be up to the judge to grant your request.
    • Fight your ticket. Even if you are guilty of the traffic offense, you may have defenses that you can use to fight the ticket. This can result in the ticket being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense with a smaller fine that you can afford to pay. It can also mean less harsh long-term consequences—which can include a permanent criminal record, points on your driver’s record, and higher auto insurance costs.

    We’re Here to Help If You Cannot Afford to Pay Your Traffic Ticket

    Are you having problems paying a traffic ticket fine in Charlotte? Do you need assistance fighting your traffic ticket? Our experienced traffic ticket attorneys are here to help. To discuss your situation and learn what options are best for you, call our Charlotte office or start an online chat to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • What does it mean to waive a traffic offense?

    Woman Being Pulled Over for a Traffic ViolationIn North Carolina, being issued a traffic ticket is a more serious offense than in other states. For many tickets, you must attend a court hearing in order to learn your punishment. However, if you were given a ticket for certain minor offenses, you have the option of waiving the traffic offense.

    Waiving a traffic offense is choosing to resolve your traffic ticket without going to court. You do so by paying the fine and cost before your court hearing. Offenses, when this is permitted, are often referred to as “waivable” offenses because you are waiving or giving up your right to go to court and fight your ticket. You are pleading guilty to the offense, and the court will treat your criminal case as if you plead guilty.

    How To Waive A Traffic Ticket

    Examples of Traffic Violations That Are Waivable

    There are currently over 40 speeding and other traffic offenses where a court hearing can be waived. Some of these include:

    • Speeding over the speed limit as long as it is not over 80 miles per hours
    • Exceeding a safe speed
    • Failure to use seat belts
    • Cell phone usage by a driver under 18 years old
    • Possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle
    • Failing to stop for a stoplight or a stop sign
    • Failure to yield to a pedestrian

    How Can You Tell If Your Traffic Ticket Is Waivable?

    The police will often note on a traffic citation whether it is a waivable offense, and, if so, the fines and costs that would have to be paid to waive it. In addition, each year the chief district judges review and publish a list of waivable traffic violations. You can find a current waiver list on the North Carolina Judicial Branch website.

    Are you considering waiving your traffic offense? This may not be in your best interests if you have defenses that may result in the ticket being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. Our experienced Charlotte traffic ticket attorneys are here to explain your options to you and to fight for the best possible option in your case. Start an online chat to schedule a free consultation today to learn more.

     

  • What happens if I don’t pay my traffic ticket in North Carolina?

    Police Officer Giving a Ticket to a North Carolina DriverIf you receive a traffic ticket in North Carolina, you should not treat it lightly. Some of them, such as reckless driving and failing to have required auto insurance, are misdemeanor offenses that can result in harsh penalties and a permanent criminal record. In addition, you could face serious consequences if you do not pay your fines.

    What Could Happen to You If You Fail to Pay Your Traffic Ticket?

    For many traffic tickets, you cannot just pay the fine and must instead attend a court hearing where the judge will decide what you owe and other conditions that you must meet. If you fail to attend this hearing and do not pay your fine, here are the consequences that can result:

    • If you miss your court hearing and do not otherwise resolve your case within 20 days of your hearing date, the court clerk will report the violation to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
    • If the judge disposed of your case at your court hearing and you do not pay the fine you were ordered to pay by the deadline set by the judge, the court clerk will report your delinquency to the DMV once 40 days from your failure to pay has passed.
    • Once the DMV receives a notice of your noncompliance from the court, they will send you a notice advising you that your driver’s license will be revoked unless you resolve your case by a deadline set in the notice. If you still do not comply, your license would be revoked.

    You may owe additional administrative fees if you do not attend your court hearing or pay your traffic ticket on time. For misdemeanor offenses, the consequences can be even more severe. Once your license is revoked, you must do the following to have it reinstated:

    • Failure to appear. If your violation included not attending your court hearing, you must either resolve your traffic ticket case or convince the judge that you are not the person who was charged with the offense for your license to be reinstated.
    • Failure to pay. If you did not pay the ticket, you must pay what you owe, prove to the judge that your failure to pay was not willful and that you are making a good faith effort to pay it, or show why the amount owed should be reduced or considered settled.

    Contact a Charlotte Traffic Ticket Attorney

    You can avoid these and other serious consequences of a traffic ticket by retaining an experienced Charlotte traffic ticket attorney. To learn how we can assist you, call our Charlotte office or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • Will I get a ticket if I am caught driving without car insurance in North Carolina?

    Auto Insurance Paperwork for North Carolina ResidentsNorth Carolina takes the requirement of having automobile insurance very seriously. If you are caught driving without it, you will not receive a minor traffic ticket. Instead, you will be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor offense and will have a permanent criminal record if convicted.

    What Are the Minimum Requirements for Auto Insurance in North Carolina?

    In North Carolina, all drivers are required to have a minimum of $30,000 for bodily injury per person, $60,000 in bodily insurance per accident, and $25,000 in property damage per accident in automobile liability coverage. Drivers also must have the same minimum amounts of uninsured bodily injury coverage to protect themselves if they are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver.

    If a motorist lets his insurance coverage lapse, his insurance company is required to report it to the Department of Motor Vehicles. In addition, a police officer can request to see a person’s proof of insurance when pulling him over in a traffic stop.

    What Are the Penalties for Driving Without the Required Insurance?

    North Carolina uses a complicated sentencing system that factors in the person’s prior criminal record when he is convicted of committing a misdemeanor offense. If you are charged with driving without the required auto insurance, the penalty you could face will depend on the number of times you have been convicted of this offense. Here are some potential punishments:

    • First offense. You will have to pay a $50 civil penalty, $50 reinstatement fee, and could be sentenced to probation for between 1 and 45 days. In addition, your registration and license plates could be suspended for 30 days.
    • Second offense. The civil penalty is increased to $100. In addition, the judge could sentence you to jail or probation for up to 45 days. The other penalties are the same as those for a first offense.
    • Third offense. The civil penalty for a third and subsequent violation increases to $150. All other penalties are the same as for a second offense conviction.

    Questions About Driving Without Insurance?

    You may also have points added to your insurance and driving record, which can significantly increase your insurance costs. You cannot afford to treat failing to have the required insurance or other traffic offenses lightly. Let our experienced traffic ticket attorneys help you fight your ticket so that you achieve the best possible outcome in your criminal case. Schedule a free consultation today.