We Answer Your Most Frequently Asked Traffic Questions
With the volume of state traffic rules and the changing nature of the law, it can be difficult to know just what to do when facing a traffic charge. Here, Todd Browning and Howard Long offer their answers to some of your most common traffic questions. Drawing upon their experience as former prosecutors, they discuss a variety of infractions, possible legal options, potential consequences, and more. Can’t find the answer you need? Reach out to us!
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Is it illegal to text and drive in North Carolina?
Any form of distracted driving is unsafe, but using a cell phone while driving is one of the most dangerous types of distractions that lead to accidents. In North Carolina, it is illegal to text and drive. Violating this law can result in stiff fines and harsh penalties if you are a school bus or commercial truck driver.
What Is North Carolina’s Law on Texting and Driving?
While most motorists over 18 years old are allowed to talk on a cell phone while driving, texting while driving is banned. North Carolina is a “primary law” state, which means that the police can stop you and issue you a ticket solely for violating this law. It is illegal for drivers to:
- Manually enter letters or text in a cell phone in an effort to communicate with another individual
- Read an e-mail or text transmitted to or stored in an electronic device
There are exceptions to this ban on texting and driving. It will not apply in these situations:
- The driver is lawfully parked or stopped
- The person is a police officer, firefighter, or ambulance driver texting while they are performing official duties
- The technology used is a factory-installed or after-purchased GPS
- The person is using voice-operated technology
A violation of this traffic law is a civil infraction that is punishable by a $100 fine. A person will not have drivers’ license points placed on his driving record or face higher insurance costs.
If the individual violating the texting ban is a school bus driver, it would be a Class 2 misdemeanor, not a civil infraction. The penalty is a fine of at least $100.
There are more severe penalties if the person is driving a commercial vehicle. Commercial truck drivers are also prohibited from texting and driving under federal regulations. Two convictions within three years will result in the person’s commercial license being suspended for 60 days while three convictions within this time period could result in a 120-day revocation.
Did you receive a traffic ticket for texting while driving in Charlotte? Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are here to answer your questions and help you achieve the best possible outcome with fewer long-term consequences. Call our Charlotte office today to schedule your free consultation.
Do I need an attorney if I have been charged with reckless driving in North Carolina?
You may consider trying to save money by attending your court hearing for your reckless driving charges on your own. However, retaining an experienced reckless driving attorney is in your best interests, and it may be more affordable to do so than you may think
Why You Need to Retain an Experienced Reckless Driving Attorney
You may not realize it, but you do have options for fighting a reckless driving charge even if you believe that you are guilty. Here are reasons why you want an experienced reckless driving attorney at your side:
- Misdemeanor offense. Reckless driving is not a traffic offense in North Carolina. It is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. In addition, it will result in a permanent criminal record, points on your driving record, increased insurance costs, and a possible driver’s license suspension. You may be able to avoid some of these harsh consequences if you are represented by an attorney.
- Possible defenses. You may have defenses to the charges, such as speedometer calibration, GPS defense, lack of probable cause to stop you, and other violations of your constitutional rights, even if you are guilty. A skilled lawyer will be able to identify these defenses and use them to fight to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.
- Court hearing. You are required to appear at a court hearing when charged with reckless driving in North Carolina. However, your attorney may be able to attend your hearing without you so that you do not have to miss work and lose wages.
- Plea bargain. An attorney will be able to enter into a more favorable plea agreement if that is in your best interest. He may be able to use facts in your case, such as a clean driving record or successful completion of a driver improvement course, to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charges to a less serious traffic offense.
At Browning & Long, PLLC, we are committed to aggressively fighting for the rights of our clients facing reckless driving charges. We have the added advantage of being former prosecutors, which gives us a greater understanding of the strategies that they employ in these cases. To learn more about your possible defenses and how we can assist you, start an online chat to schedule your free consultation today.
What evidence can help in my reckless driving case in North Carolina?
If you have been charged with reckless driving in North Carolina, you must understand that you did not receive a traffic citation. You have been charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense with a possible sentence of time in jail, a fine, and suspension of your driver’s license. In addition, you would have a permanent criminal record. To build a strong defense and attack the prosecutor’s case against you, you will need evidence that supports your defenses.
Evidence That May Help You Fight the Reckless Driving Charges You Face
Even if you believe that you were guilty, you may have defenses to the reckless driving charges you face that can result in the charges being dismissed or being reduced to a much less serious offense. Some of the evidence that you may need includes:
- Speedometer calibration. Many reckless driving charges in North Carolina are based on driving over 20 miles per hour over the speed limit or over 80 miles per hour. A speedometer calibration can help you prove that you were not driving as fast as the police officer claims.
- GPS evidence. If you were charged with only traveling a little over 20 miles per hour over the speed limit or over 80 miles per hour, obtaining GPS location data along with a speedometer calibration can be effective to show that you were traveling at a slower speed. At a minimum, this may enable you to get the charges against you reduced to a less serious offense.
- Evidence of improper signs. When the speed limit signs near where you were charged with reckless driving were missing, vandalized, or hidden, this could be a defense to a reckless driving charge, especially if you were driving in an unfamiliar area. Photographs of the signs and the area in general can help you prove that you had no way of knowing the speed limit.
- Medical records. If you were speeding due to a medical emergency, such as experiencing a stroke or heart attack, you would want to obtain medical records substantiating a passenger’s or your health condition that required you to speed.
- Witness testimony. Witness testimony can be valuable to substantiate your defenses, such as that you were not the driver, you were not racing if this is the basis of your charge, or you were speeding due to a medical emergency.
- Evidence of safety commitment. Your sentence may be less harsh if you can show a commitment to safe driving. Evidence of this can include showing a clean driving record prior to these charges or completion of a driver improvement course.
Contact Our Charlotte Reckless Driving Attorneys Today
You need the assistance of an experienced reckless driving attorney in Charlotte to help you identify the defenses that you have and collect the evidence that you will need to aggressively fight the reckless driving charges that you face. Start an online chat today to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss your charges and the strong defenses you may have.
What speeding tickets CAN suspend my North Carolina Driver's License vs. what tickets WILL?
North Carolina is a strict state when it comes to speeding and you would be amazed at what speeding violations can suspend your North Carolina Driver’s license. In some instances, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles has the option to suspend your license and in other instances, the suspension is automatic. Below we explain what types of speeding tickets can suspend your driver’s license and what ticket will suspend your license.
Tickets where the North Carolina DMV CAN suspend your license
In The following scenarios the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles has the option of suspending your driver’s license:
- Two convictions for speeding over 55 MPH within one year
- A conviction of reckless driving and a conviction for speeding over 55 MPH within one year
- A conviction of aggressive driving and a conviction for speeding over 55 MPH within one year
- A conviction for speeding over 75 MPH on a street or highway where the speed limit is less than 70 mph
- A conviction for speeding over 80 MPH on a street of highway where the speed limit is 70 MPH
Tickets where the North Carolina DMV WILL automatically suspend you license
In the following scenarios the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles will automatically suspend your driver’s license:
- A conviction for speeding 15 MPH over the speed limit where you are traveling greater than 55 MPH
- A conviction for speeding greater than 80 MPH
DO NOT JUST PAY OFF YOUR NORTH CAROLINA SPEEDING TICKET
Oftentimes, when you are charged with a speeding ticket the officer tells you to just pay the fine and you do not have to go to court. There are even instructions on many of the citations about how you can just pay off your citation without having to go to court. It is imperative that you understand that when you just pay off the ticket you are pleading guilty. As you can see, a minor run of the mill speeding ticket can suspend your driver’s license so whatever you do, do not just pay off your ticket. Speak to an attorney to see what options you have.
How Attorneys at Browning & Long, PLLC Can Help
YOur best shot at a good outcommon to to speak with an experienced traffic ticket lawyer. Our experienced traffic attorneys have represented thousands of folks charged with speeding tickets. When you hire us to represent you for your speeding ticket we will negotiate with the District Attorney on your behalf and do everything in our power to ensure that your driver’s license is not suspended and that your insurance premiums do not increase. Specifically, our attorneys will seek to get the following results:
- Get your ticket dismissed. This is the best result. No points on your driver’s license or insurance and you do not have to pay any fines, fees or court cost.
- Amend your ticket to an Improper Equipment, a violation that will put no points on your driver’s license or insurance policy.
- Obtain a PJC (prayer for judgment continued). A PJC, like an improper equipment, does not put any points on your driver’s license or insurance policy.
- Lastly, we could reduce your speed to a speed that would not suspend your driver’s license.
What traffic violations require a mandatory court hearing?
North Carolina has some of the strictest traffic offense laws in the country. Unlike many other states, a person who receives a traffic ticket will often be required to attend a mandatory court hearing. This means that even if you want to plead guilty and pay the ticket, you will most likely have to attend a court hearing to do so. However, an experienced traffic law attorney may be able to attend this hearing for you and obtain a better outcome with less harsh penalties than if you go to the hearing on your own.
What Are Waivable Offenses That Do Not Require a Mandatory Court Hearing?
There are a few “waivable” offenses where you can handle the ticket without going to court by paying the fines and costs prior to the court date. By doing so, you are waiving your right to appear at a court hearing. Waivable offenses are very minor ones, such as having a broken headlight. The police officer who issues the ticket should indicate on the back of the ticket whether the offense is one that can be waived. If it is, the costs and fines that you must pay should also be listed.
By paying the ticket, you are also pleading guilty to the offense. This can affect your driver’s license and automobile insurance costs. It is always best to consult with an experienced attorney before deciding to just pay the ticket to be certain that you do not have better options—which is often the case.
Traffic Offenses Which Require a Mandatory Court Hearing
The majority of traffic offenses require attendance at a court hearing in North Carolina. In addition, if you intend to plead not guilty to the traffic offense, you must attend the court hearing to enter your plea. Tickets that require a mandatory court hearing include:
- Tampering with an ignition interlock device
- Driving while a driver’s license is suspended, revoked, disqualified, or revoked for an impaired driver’s license revocation
- Driving a commercial vehicle without a valid commercial driver’s license or when the license has been suspended, revoked, or disqualified
- Failing to obey the instructions of a traffic officer or a fireman at the scene of a fire
- Driving while intoxicated
- Driving with an open container after drinking
- Reckless driving
- Driving over 80 mph, including in a work zone
- Speeding 15 miles or more over the speed limit while driving over 55 mph, including in a work zone
- Aggressive driving
- Failing to give right of way to the right when being passed if this results in a crash that causes bodily harm or property damage
- Making unsafe movements that cause an accident that results in serious bodily injury or property damage more than $5,000
- Failing to yield involving serious bodily injury
- Failing to stop at the scene of an accident or to report it
- Passing a stopped school bus
- Violating the financial responsibility laws
What Happens If You Miss Your Mandatory Court Hearing?
If you fail to attend your mandatory court hearing, you could face more serious consequences. You may be assessed additional court costs, a warrant could be issued for your arrest, and your driver’s license could be revoked. Depending on the traffic offense, you may be facing additional criminal charges. You should contact an attorney immediately for assistance in getting your hearing rescheduled so that you do not face these consequences.
We Are Here to Help With Your Traffic Offense
Did you receive a traffic ticket? An experienced traffic ticket lawyer may be able to attend your mandatory court hearing for you and will fight hard to get the ticket dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. This can help you avoid some of the harsh long-term consequences, such as a permanent criminal record, points on your driving record, and increased insurance costs. Call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
What can happen if I get caught driving on a suspended license?
Because most people rely on driving a vehicle to get to work and take care of family and personal affairs, it can be devastating to have a suspended driver’s license. Public transportation may be readily accessible in some cities in North Carolina, but it may be unavailable, time-consuming, and expensive where you live. As a result, you may find it almost impossible not to drive—even if you have a suspended license. However, if you are caught, you could face even more serious penalties.
Why Are Driver’s Licenses Revoked in North Carolina?
Your North Carolina driver’s license can be suspended for many reasons. Some of the reasons are for fairly minor offenses while others are for committing serious offenses or unsafe driving practices. Here are some of the reasons that your driver’s license could be suspended:
- Failing to pay court costs and fees
- Failing to attend a required court hearing
- Failing to pay child support
- Failing to complete required community service
- Accumulating 12 Department of Motor Vehicle points on your driver’s license in a three-year period or accumulating three points in a three year period when you have a driver’s license suspension on your record
- Speeding over a certain speed or receiving a certain number of speeding tickets
- Refusing to submit to a chemical test to determine if you are intoxicated
- Being convicted of impaired driving
- Failing to stop after an accident
What Are the Penalties for Driving While Your Driver’s License Is Suspended?
Driving While License Revoked (DWLR) is a serious misdemeanor offense in North Carolina—even if your original suspension is for failing to pay fines or another more minor cause. However, the law was changed on December 1, 2015, to reduce the harsh consequences for some offenses. There are now four offenses:
- DWLR. You could be convicted of this offense if you drive a motor vehicle on a highway—which is broadly defined to include most roads—while knowing that your driver’s license has been revoked. This is a Class 3 misdemeanor, but under the new law, a violation may not result in an additional driver’s license suspension.
- Impaired driving suspension. It is a violation of the law to drive when your license has been suspended for impaired driving, and you have received a required notice under North Carolina law of the suspension. This is also a Class 1 Misdemeanor, and a violation could result in an additional driver’s license suspension.
- Driving without reclaiming license. If you are charged with DWI, your driver’s license will be immediately revoked. If the time period for the revocation has expired and you have not reclaimed your license, but are caught driving, this is a Class 3 misdemeanor. Under the new law, this violation may not result in an additional revocation of your license.
- Driving after notification. If you drive after failing to appear for a DWI (Driving While Impaired) court date or after receiving a notice from the DMV that your license has been suspended, this remains a Class 1 misdemeanor. You may face an additional driver’s license suspension.
The consequences of driving when your drivers’ license is suspended are serious and include a permanent criminal record if you are convicted of a misdemeanor offense. You could face these punishments:
- Up to 120 days in jail
- Fines to be set by the judge
- Driver’s license suspension of an additional one year for the first offense, two years for a second offense, and lifetime revocation for a third offense
- Eight points on your vehicle insurance policy, which can result in your premiums increasing up to 220 percent for the next three years under North Carolina’s Safe Driver Incentive Plan
Let Us Help If Your Driver’s License Has Been Suspended
Rather than try to handle your case on your own, we recommend speaking with a traffic ticket lawyer to understand how the legal process works. If you have been charged with driving while your driver’s license was suspended, our experienced traffic law attorneys are here to help you fight the charges you face. Depending on your situation, we may be able to help you get your driving privileges restored. Call our office today to schedule your free case evaluation to learn more about your legal options.
Are there better options than a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC) for speeding tickets?
Yes, if you have been charged with a speeding offense or other traffic violation in North Carolina there are potential options that are more beneficial than using a PJC.
Depending on the speeding offense or traffic violation you were charged with, as well as your prior driving history, you may qualify for a reduction to other offenses such as:
- Improper Equipment
- Failure to Notify the DMV of Address Change
Unlike most traffic offenses like speeding tickets and reckless driving, offenses such as these will not result in points on your North Carolina driver’s license or insurance. In fact, Failure to Notify the DMV of Address Change generally doesn’t even show up on your driving history.
Even if you don’t qualify for a reduction to a traffic offense such as Improper Equipment or Failure to Notify DMV of Address Change, in many situations a simple reduction in your speed may be more beneficial than using a PJC. Again, this is very fact specific but largely depends on if and when you, or another person on your insurance policy, have been convicted of a speeding offense or other traffic violation.
Contact Our Charlotte Traffic Ticket Defense Lawyers
Browning & Long, PLLC can help you determine if you may qualify for a reduction to Improper Equipment, Failure to Notify DMV of Address Change, or speed reduction. Contact them now for a free consultation.
What are the benefits of using a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC) for my NC traffic violation?
The major benefits of receiving a Prayer for Judgment Continued pertains to driver’s license points and insurance premium surcharges. Since a PJC is not a judgment, the underlying speeding ticket or traffic violation that you used it for will not count as a conviction. As a result, no points will go on your North Carolina driver’s license and your insurance premiums won't increase.
Can I Use a PJC for my Charlotte Traffic Ticket Case?
While a Prayer for Judgment Continued may be used for a variety of North Carolina offenses, it is most frequently used for traffic offenses such as speeding and reckless driving charges. However, if you have been charged with certain traffic violations you will not be able to receive the benefits of a PJC.
Charges that are excluded from using a PJC include the following:
- Speeding violations in excess of 25 mph over the speed limit
- Passing a stopped school bus
Additionally, if you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), or were driving a commercial vehicle, a PJC will not prevent a speeding offense or other traffic violation from counting as a conviction. And if you are licensed in a state other than North Carolina and receive a PJC for a North Carolina speeding offense or traffic violation, it’s possible - and likely - that your state will not recognize that PJC; thus, the conviction will count against you.
How Many Times Can I Use a PJC in North Carolina?
For purposes of driver’s license points, a third or subsequent PJC within a five-year period will count as a conviction. With regard to insurance premiums, a second PJC during a three-year period will result in a conviction. This ultimately results in increased insurance premiums based on both the original PJC and new PJC, both of which will now count as convictions.
To further complicate matters, you may not be able to benefit from a PJC if you, or another person on your insurance policy, has previously used a PJC. For insurance purposes, PJCs are accumulated by everyone on your insurance policy, not just you.
Find Out if a PJC Will Work for Your Case
While a Prayer for Judgment Continued sounds great, there may be better options for you. Not only may there be better options than a PJC, but your specific situation could prevent you from receiving any of the benefits.
The inner workings of a PJC are extremely complex. Contact our Charlotte traffic ticket defense attorneys at Browning & Long, PLLC for a free legal consultation to determine if a PJC is right for you.
Can my NC driver's license be revoked for speeding?
Yes. Regardless of your driving history, if you are convicted of certain speeding offenses your North Carolina driver’s license may potentially be revoked by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). These speeding offenses include the following:
- A conviction for speeding greater than 75 mph in a zone less than 70 mph
- A conviction for speeding greater than 80 mph in a 70 mph zone
- A conviction for speeding greater than 15 mph above the speed limit in a 55 mph zone
- A conviction for speeding greater than 80 mph
This means that even if you have a perfectly clean driving record, being convicted of one of the above speeding offenses can cause your driver's license to be revoked. These revocations generally result in a 30-day suspension. However, a limited driving privilege may be available for first time offenders.
Other than those traffic violations listed above, there are also other speeding violations that can potentially revoke your North Carolina driver’s license that depend more on your driving history. These speeding offenses include the following:
- Two or more convictions for speeding greater than 55 mph, both of which occur within a 12-month period
- One conviction for speeding greater than 55 mph and one conviction of reckless driving, both of which occur within a 12-month period
- One conviction for speeding greater than 55 mph and one conviction of aggressive driving, both of which occur with a 12-month period
Get Your Driver's License Restored
If you think you fall into any of the categories above, it is important to contact an experienced speeding ticket attorney at Browning & Long, PLLC. These skilled lawyers may be able to help you avoid a license revocation by discussing your legal options, such as speed reductions, a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC), and more. Call (980) 207-3355 now for your free consultation.