Saturday, February 11, 2012

Beware: New Online Ticket Payment Option in North Carolina Could Cause Big Problems

We all know that feeling. You’re driving along the highway and all of a sudden you see blue lights in your rear view mirror. Bad feeling, right? Well, be careful, that feeling could get a lot worse. North Carolina has a new system for “easy” disposition of minor traffic tickets. When a driver is issued a citation, they also receive instructions about how easy it is to simply go online to the Pay NC Ticket website, break out the plastic, and voila, painless traffic ticket. No wasted time going to court, no long line to wait in, totally painless and easy. That is of course until you receive notice from your auto insurance carrier that your premium will be increasing or even worse, you may receive a letter from the N.C. DMV telling you that because of your recent conviction, your driver’s license is scheduled for revocation.
But wait! That helpful patrolman told me once I paid the ticket off online everything would be taken care of and that this is really better than going to court. Well, the problem is once you pay off your ticket online, it is treated as a final conviction and it is reported to DMV (the people that keep track of the bad things you do while driving). From there, your insurance company finds out about the ticket. The charge isn’t reduced for you online, you can’t receive a PJC (prayer for judgment continued), nor can you plead to a simple non-moving violation like Improper Equipment. You are stuck with the exact charge you originally received.
In North Carolina, certain traffic convictions can cause huge problems. For instance, if your ticket was for speeding more than 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit your auto liability policy premium can increase substantially. Usually, this increase lasts for three years. Also, if you are one of the unfortunate ones without a spotless driving record, that one ticket could have caused an accumulation of license points that could be grounds for license revocation.
The moral of the story, if you have the bad fortune of receiving a traffic ticket don’t try to handle it yourself. Call a reputable attorney in the county where you received the ticket that routinely handles traffic matters in that court. They will review your North Carolina driving record and will know what needs to happen to avoid an insurance increase or a license revocation. The attorney’s fee you pay will be well worth it to avoid the enormous headache of what could happen if you simply pay off something that could cause so many problems.

Mark Herring,
Attorney at Law
Mark Herring is a partner with White & Allen, P.A. in Kinston, NC. Mark is a former state prosecutor and handles all types of criminal matters in state and federal courts as well as general civil litigation matters. Mark has extensive experience in handling all types of traffic cases including speeding, careless and reckless driving, driving while license revoked and driving while impaired.
The above article is not intended as legal advice nor does it create any attorney-client relationship