One of the most frequent questions I get in my practice here in North Carolina is what will happen if I just pay my speeding ticket? Folks are concerned that their insurance will go up or that they might get tagged with license points and all that stuff. Really what they want to know is what are the consequences of just paying the damn thing so they don’t have to worry about getting a lawyer (paying a lawyer) to maybe get them a better deal.
And this is what I say:
In NC, nothing will happen to you, as long as you meet certain conditions
In North Carolina, everyone can have one speeding ticket for not more than 9 mph over the limit every three years without there being any insurance consequences from it. Just need a clean record with no other moving violations for that last three year period. If this is you, no sweat. Go on and pay. You will see a couple or three license points, but relax, those aren’t the points that cause your insurance to go up. I wrote a blog piece on the law behind this called the Safe Driver Incentive Plan. You can read that later.
Now there are a couple of exceptions to the 9 over rule: if you were speeding in a school zone all bets are off; the rule about one every three years not over 9 mph doesn’t apply to you. The same is true if you were speeding more than 74 mph (so if you plead to 79 in a 70 zone that would mean the one every three years rule does not apply and you’d get an insurance increase).
Clean record for past three years and a “simple” speeding ticket of 9 over the limit and less than 75 mph? Pay it. No real reason to get a lawyer. That’s just wasting money. However that is not to say that a lawyer can’t do you any good. A lawyer can still help you in a few ways:
Some benefits of having a lawyer:
- You won’t have to go to court; the lawyer can go for you (saves time).
- The lawyer can usually have the speed reduced so even if the cop wrote you up for more than 9 over, you can still take advantage of that “one every three year” thing.
- If there is some other charge also on the ticket, like passing in a no-pass zone, having a lawyer means he might be able to have that charge tossed so you are left with just a speeding ticket (hopefully one that won’t jack your insurance).
- If the charge is one of those school zone cases, the lawyer might be able to work a deal with the DA so that you can do some community service and the DA will change the charge so it’s no longer a school zone case (so the one every three year rule applies again).
- In some cases the lawyer can have the speeding ticket turned into an improper equipment ticket which carries no points at all and is not even considered a moving violation.
- If your record is not clean for the past 3 years, the lawyer might be able to ask the judge for a PJC or “prayer for judgment continued”. That’s sort of like a pardon from the judge and wipes out all the points both insurance and license for that one violation. You would want to use the PJC to dodge insurance points if you are not otherwise eligible for the “one every three years 9 over” deal for any of the reasons above. Only a judge can grant it and you have to go to court to see the judge (or your lawyer does).
- If your ticket is for speeding in a work zone, the lawyer might be able to have the DA change it so it’s not a “work zone” ticket. Work zones carry mandatory fines of $250 plus costs. Other than that they are just ordinary speeding tickets. Having a lawyer can at least save you the extra fine though.
- If you happen to be a CDL commercial license holder, it always is a good idea to consult a lawyer since there are special consequences that can apply to you, even if you seem to fit in the 9 over rule as I have described it.
So like I said. If you have a clean record for the past three years, one simple ticket for 9 over and less than 75 and not in a school zone won’t jack your insurance. Go on and pay. You may as well save the attorney fee!
If on the other hand you don’t fit the above criteria, consult a lawyer for better results that won’t have long-lasting impacts. Click the button below to upload your case and have a lawyer contact you.