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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What is an improper equipment offense and how can it help me if I get a speeding ticket in North Carolina?
An improper equipment offense is a non-moving violation in North Carolina. You could receive this infraction for faulty equipment, such as a defective speedometer, broken tail light, or improper muffler. If you received a speeding ticket, you may be able to get the charge reduced to an improper equipment offense with the help of an experienced traffic law attorney.
How Can Getting a Charlotte Speeding Ticket Reduced to an Improper Equipment Offense Help Me?
It is within the prosecutor’s discretion to reduce a speeding ticket to an improper equipment offense, and you do not have to have a faulty speedometer for the prosecutor to agree to this plea. The most important factors in getting this reduction are the speed that you were driving at and your driving history.
This could be a good outcome if you were ticketed for speeding. Here is how this can benefit you:
- Lower fines. You will pay a lower fine for an improper equipment offense than if you plead guilty and pay a speeding ticket. You will also owe an additional fee to the court system, but it still will be less than the fine for a speeding ticket.
- No points. Unlike a speeding ticket, an improper equipment offense will not result in any points on your driver license. When a sufficient number of points are applied to your driver’s license, your driver’s license could be suspended or revoked.
- No increased insurance. Because an improper equipment offense is a non-moving violation with no points on your driver’s license, your insurance rates should not increase. You could owe significantly more in insurance premiums for a number of years after receiving a speeding ticket.
When Are You Ineligible for an Improper Equipment Offense
Not all speeding tickets can be reduced to an improper equipment offense. Here are some of the circumstances that could make you ineligible for this option:
- If your speeding ticket was for driving over 85 miles per hour or more than 20 miles over the posted speed limit
- If your ticket was for speeding in a school or work zone
- If you already received an improper equipment offense within the last three years
- If you received another moving violation within the last three years
- If you received more than three moving violations within the last 10 years
Have you received a speeding ticket or other traffic citation in Charlotte? Our experienced traffic ticket lawyers are here to help you reach the best possible outcome in your case so that your ticket is dismissed or you owe fewer fines and have fewer long-term consequences. To discuss your options, start an online chat to schedule a free consultation.
What penalties could I face if I am charged with a CDL-related offense in North Carolina?
If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), being convicted of a traffic violation can have repercussions on your ability to drive a truck or other commercial vehicle and work. If the violation is serious enough, such as DUI or leaving the scene of an accident, your CDL could be suspended on a temporary basis or revoked. In addition, you could be charged with a CDL-related offense in North Carolina that can result in harsh penalties if you are convicted.
CDL-Related Offenses and Penalties in North Carolina
Drivers of commercial vehicles in North Carolina must comply with rules that do not apply to drivers of passenger vehicles. Many of these are federal requirements governing the trucking industry and other commercial drivers. Here are some CDL-related offenses and penalties in North Carolina:
- Overweight. Vehicles that are overweight for a specific area or road are required to have a permit in order to be driven in the area or road, and the driver must carry the permit in his vehicle. In addition, the load must be loaded in a specific manner, and the vehicle must be licensed for maximum allowable weight. If a driver violates these rules, his permit could be suspended or revoked.
- Logbook. Under federal regulations, a truck driver must complete a daily logbook that shows how long he drove, when he took a rest break, and provides other required information. This is to ensure that he complied with hours of service regulations that limit the number of hours a commercial driver can drive without taking a break. Violation of this rule by not completing or falsifying the logbook is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to six months in jail.
- Speeding while towing a trailer. If a driver is speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit while pulling a trailer, this is considered a severe violation that could result in his CDL being suspended.
- Lane violations. When a commercial vehicle driver violates lane restrictions on what lanes he can travel on, he could face fines and a revocation of his license for 30 to 60 days. Multiple lane violations could result in a longer or permanent revocation of his CDL license.
Have you been issued a ticket for one of these violations or another traffic citation while driving a commercial vehicle? You must take your offense seriously because it could affect your CDL license—and ability to work. Our experienced Charlotte traffic ticket attorneys are here to help you achieve the best outcome possible. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation.
I received a ticket in North Carolina for unsafe movements involving a motorcycle. What is this offense and what penalties could I face?
While receiving a ticket for unsafe driving that involved a motorcycle may not seem like a big deal that requires a lawyer’s assistance, it can result in a hefty fine and long-term consequences in your life. Retaining an experienced Charlotte traffic ticket attorney can help avoid these harsh penalties.
Unsafe Movement That Involves a Motorcycle Traffic Offense and Penalties in Charlotte
Making unsafe movements when driving can apply to many unsafe driving practices, such as unsafe lane changes or improper turns. This ticket is often issued when there is a near-accident or collision. Under an amendment to this statute, the legislature made the penalties even harsher when a motorcycle is involved in the violation. You can be ticketed for this offense if you make an unsafe movement and cause a vehicle to change travel lanes or to leave a public road or highway. Here are the potential penalties you could face if convicted:
- The minimum fine assessed is $200.
- If the unsafe movement results in property damage or injuries to the motorcycle rider or his passengers, the fine could be increased to a minimum of $500 and may be even more.
- If the property damage is more than $5,000 or the rider or a passenger suffers serious bodily injury, the minimum fine increases to $750. In addition, your driver’s license could be suspended for up to 30 days. However, you may be able to obtain limited driving privileges during this time period.
In addition to the large fines that you may have to pay, you could also incur other long-term expenses. Four points will be added to your driver’s license. This can increase your insurance premiums by as much as 25 percent.
Even if you want to just pay the ticket, you will need to attend at least one court hearing to resolve your citation. However, a lawyer may be able to appear on your behalf so that you do not have to take time off work to do so.
You may have defenses to an unsafe movement ticket that can result in it being dismissed or reduced to a less serious traffic violation—even if you violated this law. To learn more about your options, call our office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Charlotte traffic ticket lawyers.
Can I be charged with reckless driving in North Carolina if I live out-of-state?
If you live in another state, you can be charged with reckless driving and face the same punishment as a person who resides in North Carolina. Unfortunately, reckless driving is not the same as a traffic violation in our state. It is a Class 2 misdemeanor, and the penalties if convicted include a jail sentence of up to 60 days, fine of up to $1,000, driver’s license suspension, and points on your driving record. You would also have a permanent criminal record.
Will You Have to Attend a Court Hearing If Charged With Reckless Driving in North Carolina?
Reckless driving is not a “waivable offense” where you can pay the fine before the court hearing date and not appear in court. You must attend the scheduled court hearing even if you just want to plead guilty. If you fail to appear, you could owe additional court costs, and the judge may issue a warrant for your arrest. However, our experienced reckless driving attorneys may be able to attend your court hearing on your behalf without the need for you to be present.
How Will a North Carolina Reckless Driving Conviction Affect Your Driving Record in Your Home State?
North Carolina is a member of the Driver License Compact. It is an interstate compact of states used to exchange information about driver’s license suspensions and traffic violations of non-residents. Currently, 45 states are members of the compact.
The Department of Motor Vehicles in North Carolina would report your driver’s license suspension and reckless driving conviction to your home state if it is a member of the Driver License Compact. Your state would treat the conviction as it if occurred in the state where you live.
If you live in another state and are charged with reckless driving in North Carolina, you must retain an attorney licensed in our state to represent you in court. Our experienced Charlotte reckless driving attorneys have the added advantage of being former prosecutors, so we understand their strategies in these cases. To learn about our extensive experience and commitment to providing our clients with the best possible defense, start an online chat or call our office to schedule your free consultation today.
What racing crimes could I be charged with in North Carolina?
Illegally racing a vehicle is a serious crime in North Carolina, and if convicted, you could face many long-term consequences. These are misdemeanor offenses which can result in you having a permanent criminal record. Besides the punishments for a misdemeanor, you may lose your driver’s license for a lengthy period of time and have your vehicle seized.
Common Racing Offenses in North Carolina
There are two offenses that you can be charged with for illegal racing. They are:
- Prearranged racing. It is unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle on a street or highway willfully in a prearranged race with another motor vehicle. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor with possible penalties of a fine, probation, and jail time depending on your prior criminal record. If convicted, your driver’s license would be revoked for three years, but you may request that it be reinstated after 18 months. In addition, your vehicle would be seized at your arrest. It would be sold, and you would incur 12 insurance points if you are convicted.
- Willful racing. It is also a crime to operate a motor vehicle on a street or highway willfully in a speed competition with another vehicle. This is a Class 2 misdemeanor, and the punishment includes possible driver’s license revocation for one year. However, this is discretionary. Ten insurance points would be incurred. The police are not authorized to seize and sell your vehicle if you are convicted.
There are other crimes associated with illegal racing that are also Class 1 misdemeanors:
- Loaning a vehicle for racing. It is illegal to loan a motor vehicle for use in prearranged racing. If convicted, the owner would face a three-year suspension of his driver’s license but could request that it be reinstated after 18 months. He would also incur 10 insurance points.
- Betting on a prearranged race. You could be charged with this offense for placing or receiving a bet on the outcome of a prearranged race on a street or highway. If convicted, your driver’s license would be suspended for three years—the same as if you were found guilty of prearranged racing.
Have you been charged with illegal racing in North Carolina? Our experienced traffic ticket attorneys are here to mount a strong defense so that you achieve the best possible outcome. To schedule your free consultation, call our office or start an online chat today.
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.