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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.            

Do I Have to Come to Court?

Updated July 23, 2014

A useful thing a lawyer may do for you is go to court for you,  so you won’t have to miss work or travel back to North Carolina. Whether a lawyer can do that depends upon whether the charge is  “waivable.”   We all have the right to be present when our case is heard (and we also have the duty to be there).  However, in minor traffic cases, the defendant may waive their right to be in court, and allow a lawyer to handle the case.   The Waiver of Appearance is a paper that you sign and return to your lawyer.

Click below to see  a sample of the waiver I send clients to sign and return to me  (You’ll have to click twice. The first click gets you to another screen with the phrase “Sample Waiver. ”  Then click on that phrase again to see the form).

Sample Waiver

Common waivable charges are  improper passing,  minor speeding tickets, stop sign and traffic light tickets,  possession of an open alcohol container, failure to yield, and  driving the wrong way.

Some offenses that require you to be in court are driving with a revoked license,  possession of  stolen or fictitious plates, DWI, reckless driving, high-speed tickets, failure to stop at the scene of an accident,  and failure to have insurance.  [Source:  Uniform Policies Related to Traffic Offenses, NC Administrative Office of the Courts (2011)]

Even if you are charged with a non-waivable offense, I may still appear for you.  How?  By pleading down your non-waivable offense down to a lesser charge that is waivable. For example, you are charged with driving 82 mph in a 65 mph zone.  If I can get that reduced to 74 in a 65,  I can usually enter that reduced plea using a waiver form.

Let me go to court for you — call me now for a free consult!  919-683-2175.                     

“Nine Over”

(Updated 6 February 2014) 

There are several ways to avoid getting insurance points from a traffic ticket.  Besides getting the case reduced to improper equipment, or using a prayer for judgment continued (“PJC”) , there is something called  “nine over.”  What does this mean?  North Carolina’s Safe Driver Incentive Plan, otherwise known as the insurance point system, states how many insurance points a driver gets with each type of conviction.  For example, according to the insurance point chart,  a driver who pleads guilty to driving 58 mph in a 45 mph zone  would receive two (2) insurance points, which would result in a 45% increase in her insurance rates for three years.  However, the same insurance point system has an exception, one that traffic lawyers call “nine over.”  The insurance chart says that a driver will not get any points for:

Speeding 10 mph or less over the posted speed limit; provided all of the following are
true:
• The violation did not occur in a school zone; and
• There is not another moving traffic violation for the experience period (an isolated
Prayer for Judgement Continued (PJC) will not count as a prior conviction for the
purpose of this exception).

So, if  the driver is charged with 58 in a 45, and the ticket is not in a school zone, and she has a clean record for the past three years, then one way to keep her insurance from going up would be to ask the D.A.’s office to reduce the charge to 54 in a 45 (nine mph over the speed limit, or “nine over”), and the driver’s insurance would not increase. (Note: Depending on the circumstances, I might be able to help this person even if she got the ticket in a school zone).

Have a ticket?  Give me a call — Don’t risk losing all those savings you got from changing insurance companies!   919-683-2175.  

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.

What about “occupational diseases?”

Workers’ compensation claims also may be the result of “occupational diseases.” North Carolina’s Act contains a whole list of diseases that are covered at N.C.G.S. Section 97-53. The list includes the “traditional” industrial diseases, such as asbestosis and silicosis and hearing loss, plus a “catch-all” section that includes any disease caused by conditions peculiar to a particular trade or job.

The “catch-all” section specifically excludes the “ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is equally exposed.” So, that nasty case of the flu you got at work is not likely to be covered — but that case of carpal tunnel syndrome may be!

What is your fee in a workers’ comp case?

My fee in a workers’ compensation claim is 25% of whatever you get, plus whatever expenses I have incurred.  That’s the standard rate. 

You may wonder, “What kind of expenses might there be?”  In a workers comp case, my out-of-pocket expenses are usually pretty low.  Often, the only expenses are the fees that your doctors charge me for copies of your medical records.

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.

 

 

Personal Injury Basics, Part 1.

Hurt in an accident? Please call me now at 919-683-2175  for a free consultation. 

 There are many types of personal injury cases. They often arise from car wrecks, but they can result from other causes as well, such as slipping and falling on a floor and from defective products.

When we say personal injury case, we are talking about an injury that results from the fault or negligence of someone else.  The other person’s negligence gives the injured person the right to seek payment from the person who caused the injury.

What is negligence? The “law-school” definition usually contains four parts or elements.  

            1.  The first element is duty. A person must have a duty or responsibility to the injured person. For example, all drivers have a duty to everyone else to drive carefully and to obey the traffic laws.

            2.  The second element of negligence is breach of duty. For example, if a person drives through a red light, he has breached his duty to drive lawfully and safely.

            3.  The third part of negligence is damage.  As a result of the breach of  duty,  another person must be harmed or damaged. Running through a red light without causing a wreck or injury can get you a traffic ticket, but if no one is harmed, there is no negligence case.

            4.  Finally, the injured person’s damage must be directly caused by the failure of the other person to uphold his duty (this last element goes by the rather technical- sounding name “proximate cause”). 

            So, if you enter an intersection with a green light, and another driver fails to stop for the red light and hits you, and as a direct result you are injured, then you may have a personal injury claim against the other driver.             

If you’ve been hurt in an accident please call me now at 919-683-2175  for a free consultation.