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“Exceeding a Safe Speed”

The non-specific  charge of “exceeding a safe speed” (often referred to as either “ESS” or just “exceeding”) can be a useful reduction when other reductions, such as improper equipment or nine-over, may not be available or as helpful.  For example, a person is charged with driving 83 mph in a 70 mph zone — a four-insurance-point violation — and the DA will not reduce the case to improper equipment.  If the driver already has a moving violation on her record within the past three years, then reducing the ticket to 79 in a 70 (nine-over) would still result in two insurance points. If the DA would instead agree to reduce the case to “exceeding a safe speed,” there would only be one insurance point.    

Put my expertise to work in coming up with a good result in your case. 919-683-2175.            

The Do-Not-License List and Clearance Letters

Updated January 13, 2016

In another post I wrote about folks who had found that, when trying to renew their licenses, their renewals were being blocked by  old pending tickets here in North Carolina. I wrote that the solution to that problem was to have the old cases placed back on the court calendar, and then to take care of them.

However, once a driver has taken care of an old case, including paying any court costs and fines, there is one last step to get their name off  the “do not license” list:  Pay  one or more fees to the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles.

The National Driver’s Registry

 

This is what NC-DMV has told me about “blocked” licenses and restoration fees.

” Most states will not issue a driver license to a person whose driving privilege is not valid in another state.”  Hence, the “National Driver Registry (NDR), . . . a nationwide database” that allows the DMV of one state to know whether an applicant may get a license in another state.

“If the driver’s North Carolina driving privilege has gone into suspension,” they wrote,  “whether licensed in NC or out-of-state, they must pay the applicable restoration fees prior to reinstatement.”  (KJD comment: Even of you are licensed in another state, you can have your “privilege” to drive in this state suspended. Then, when you try to renew your license in your home state, you are blocked by the pending ticket in NC.)  

They also said that, “There are two kinds of restoration fees. The $130* DWI restoration fee is due when the driving privilege is being reinstated after a suspension for driving while impaired. All other suspensions require a $65* restoration fee.”

“The other reinstatement fee is the $50 service fee. The service fee is owed if the driver held a NC driver license at the time the suspension went into effect and they did not surrender the license to the Division prior to the suspension.”  (KJD comment: NC-DMV sends letters to people they are planning to suspend.  The letter says something like “Mail your license to us by such-and-such a date or we will send someone to pick it up.”  They charge a $50 service fee to send that person out.)

“Obviously, if (a driver) is licensed in another state (the pick-up-license) fee will most likely not be required for them to reinstate their NC driving privilege.” (KJD comment:  NC-DMV does not usually physically take the driver’s license of someone who is licensed in another state.  Hence, there is no $50 service fee for not turning in the license).

Clearance Letters

 

Once NC-DMV takes your name off the NDR, the Divisions of Motor Vehicles of other states can see that online.  That can serve as your “clearance letter.”

If you think you owe a restoration fee or service fee to NC-DMV, here’s an email link to conact them.  You can also call NC-DMV at 919-715-7000.

_____________

*Those fee amounts became effective in 2016.  Kjd

 Need help getting your license back because of old tickets?  Give me a call at 919-683-2175.   Ken Duke

Safe Driving Schools

Often, people with tickets wonder if it will help them to go to “traffic school.”   Without meaning to sound flippant, my answer is, “It depends.”  My information is based only on my experience in the North Carolina counties of Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham.

First, as a general matter, it’s certainly not going to hurt you to take a safe driving class.   You might learn something that could save your life.  And, it’s nice when I can say to the assistant D.A., “And look, here’s her safe-driving-class certificate.”

As to whether or not you must take a class, or whether it really may help you legally, that depends on the D.A.’s office in each county.

In Wake County, if you are under twenty years old and you want a reduction in the charge, you may have to take a class.  If you are older than twenty, they are not going to be too impressed with a class, and will likely offer you the same reduction, if any,  with or without a class.

Durham County’s safe-driving-class policy is that they do not have one.  Doesn’t hurt, may help.

Orange and Chatham County have the same D.A., and they do have a policy:  They like people to take classes.  If you are 19 or younger, they may require you to take a two-day, in-person class in order to get the best reduction.   If you are older than that, and the charge is not too serious, you can probably get by with an online class.

Which Class to Attend?

If you don’t have a lawyer I suggest you go to your first court date and ask the assistant D.A. whether he or she wants you to take a class, and ask them which class to take.  Your case will be continued (put off) for a month or so to give you time to complete the class and then you can come back with your certificate.

If you are represented by a lawyer (for example, me), I will find out which class you need to take and let you know.

The Original Certificate

Please note that the D.A.s’ offices will only accept the original certificate issued by the school.  They do not accept copies.  If I am representing you, you can ask the school to send the original directly to me.

Have a question about a traffic ticket?  Give me a call at 919-683-2175.

 

 

 

 

 

Lawyers and Orange and Chatham County Cases

I handle traffic cases in Durham, Granville, Wake, Orange and Chatham Counties.  In Durham, Granville, and Wake, I can go to court for you on your court date and most likely take care of it that day. They do things a little different in Orange and Chatham Counties.  In Orange and Chatham Counties, which are part of the same judicial district (District 15B), they do all the minor traffic cases in which the defendants have lawyers on an administrative day, also called “lawyer’s day.”  That’s the third Wednesday of every month in Orange, and the second Thursday of every month in Chatham.

This is the process in Orange County:  After being retained, your lawyer goes to the Clerk of Court and asks them to  place the case on an upcoming lawyer’s day.

This is the way they do it in Chatham County:  Traffic court is the 1st Thursday of every month.  Folks who don’t have lawyers can show up then and resolve their cases on their own.  The left-over cases, which would include cases in which the defendants have hired lawyers, are automatically continued over to the next Thursday — lawyer’s day — when lawyers show up and take care of the cases for which they have been retained.

So, if you retain me (or any other lawyer) for a minor traffic case in Orange or Chatham County, we will not resolve your case on the court date printed on the ticket.  Rather, we will resolve it on lawyer’s day.

Accidents, Tickets and Insurance Rates

If you have a wreck and the officer thinks it’s your fault, they may give you a ticket for failure to reduce speed, or failure to yield the right of way, or some other “safe movement” violation.   Hopefully, the accident is not too serious, and your main concern is whether it will cause your insurance to go up!  If you’ve gotten an accident-related ticket, I can probably help you get it dismissed. Usually, I contact your insurance company and ask them to send me a letter stating that they have paid for the damages to the the other person’s car, or have settled any personal injury claim that has been made against you. I then take that letter to an assistant D.A. and usually they will dismiss the ticket.  Depending upon how much your insurance company paid the other driver or injured person to resolve the case, that dismissal may keep your insurance rates from going up. If you have gotten an accident-related ticket, please give me a call at 919-683-2175 so we can figure out the best way to handle your specific case.      

New Court Costs — RE-amended Post!

Here’s my latest experience on court costs.  If you plead guilty to a traffic infraction, the basic court costs will be $188. If you plead guilty to a non-infraction ticket, the basic costs will be $190.  (How to tell if your case is an infraction or a “regular” ticket?   You’ll need to know the file number, which is separate from the citation number.  If the letters between the numbers are “IF,” it’s an infraction.  If the letters are “CR,” it’s not an infraction. )

If we get your case reduced to improper equipment, which is just about the best break there is, short of dismissal, then there will be an extra court cost of $50.  If the judge wants to (but they usually don’t), he or she can also add a fine.

Finally, let me warn you about the “late fees” that came into effect in August of 2011. If you miss your court date by more than twenty days, you will be charged a $200 late fee!  Occasionally, we can get those forgiven, but just be aware of that if you’ve got a pending ticket.

Have a traffic question? Give me a call at 919-683-2175.

Areas (Places) I Cover

(Revised February 19, 2014)

I handle most types of traffic cases in Durham, Orange, Chatham and Wake Counties.  Some the cities and towns in this area include Raleigh, Apex, Morrisville, Cary, Durham, Rougemont, Timberlake, RTP (Research Triangle Park), Siler City, Pittsboro, Goldston, Bynum, Hillsborough, Chapel Hill, Carrboro,  and Efland.  Major Roads include I-85, I-40 and Highways  15-501 (the Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd), 54, 55, 64, 70, 86, and 147 (the Durham Freeway).

There are several large universities in the area, and their police departments can give tickets. These include  NC State University, Duke University, NC Central University, and UNC-Chapel Hill.

You can even get a ticket from the police officers at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport!

If you have had a traffic “run-in” with any of these towns or organizations, give me a call at 919-683-2175!

 

How much are the attorney’s fees in a traffic case?

My goal is to charge a fee that anyone with a car and a license can pay.  Having said that, the fee varies with the case. For example, the fee would be less for a  “basic” ticket (such as 48 mph in a 35 mph zone)  than it would for a more serious case.  An example of a more serious case would be one in which you might get more than one insurance point or which might suspend  your license.  The fee also is higher if there is more than one charge arising from the same incident.

My fee does not include the court costs or fines.  Often, the court costs and fine will be written on the ticket.  However, those amounts, especially the fine, may change depending upon how we resolve your case  (the amounts written on the ticket assume that you plead guilty as charged). If  we get the charges reduced the fine may change. If we use a prayer for judgment continued (PJC), there will be no fine, only the court costs.

 

 

Background on Traffic Cases

Have a traffic ticket? Please call me now at 919-683-2175  for a free consultation. 

Some background information about traffic cases:

Most tickets will cause your insurance to go up. The amount of the increase depends on the ticket. For example, driving 68 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone would result in two insurance points, which would mean a 45% increase.   Driving 78 mph in a 65 mph zone is more serious, and would result in four points, and in an increase of 80%. Usually, I can get these types of charges reduced so that your insurance does not go up as much or not at all.

Some tickets will cause your license to be suspended unless they are reduced. The most common type of suspension occurs when both of these things are true: You are driving over 55 miles per hour and, at the same time your speed is more than 15 miles per hour over the limit. For example, a charge of 74 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone would result in a thirty-day suspension. Again, I usually can get these cases reduced to prevent the suspension.

 Please call  now at 919-683-2175  for a free consultation.