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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

Seat Belt Tickets

Now and then potential clients tell me they got a ticket for not wearing their seat belt and they wonder if there is anything I can do for them.    Unfortunately,  I almost always say no.  Why?  First, by statute, conviction of a seat belt violation does not cause one’s insurance to go up nor does it result in any driver’s license points. N.C.G.S. Section 135-2A(f).  That’s what most folks are interested in, so there is nothing that we’d have to “reduce it to” to keep their insurance from going up.   Second, I have observed over the course of almost 29 years of practicing law that when people plead not guilty to seat belt charges, they are almost always found guilty.  In fact, as I sit here writing this, I cannot remember the last time I saw a judge find someone not guilty in a seat belt case.  I have seen many people found not guilty of more serious cases, such as DWI, but not seat belt violations.

About the only way I can get a seat belt charge dismissed is if the person is charged with something in addition to the seat belt charge. In such a case, the D.A.’s office will sometimes dismiss the seat belt charge if the client will plead guilty to the other charge.

 

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.