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Defensive Driving Course

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Speeding Ticket

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L. Martin Taylor

Attorney and Counselor at Law

 

Phone:

704-675-9939

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 1171

Gastonia, NC 28053

Office Address:

431 S. York St.

Gastonia, NC 28052

 

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Welcome to TicketFixIt.com.  This website has been developed by L. Martin Taylor, Attorney and Counselor at Law; this site is an extension of my main website www.LMartinTaylor.com.  My office is located in Gastonia, North Carolina and defends people charged with all driving violations in Gaston County, North Carolina.  I offer a free initial consultation regarding most traffic matters.

It does not matter if you are charged with the least or most serious driving violation, in either event, you need competent and effective legal representation.  My office is here to help.  My goal is to work each case from every possible angle to make the law work for my clients.  I strive to help each client successfully navigate the criminal justice system by explaining their legal options, the consequences of each and my professional opinion based on the law and the facts surrounding your case.  I believe that it is important for the client to make all key decisions in their defense; I will make sure that you have accurate information in making each decision.

Traffic tickets cost more than you may think. For each moving violation, a driver will incur drivers license points and insurance points.  A North Carolina licensed driver who accumulates too many drivers license points will have their license and privilege to drive suspended.  Incurring any insurance points will cause your insurance premium to increase for three years.  Any time that you receive a traffic citation, you need to speak with an attorney; the consequences of the decisions you make may have a significant impact on your life.

Below you will find some general information regarding the most often charged traffic offenses.  If you do not find the offense you are charged with, give my office a call to discuss your particular circumstance and the available options.

Beware of police officers giving you legal advice; whose interest do you think they have in mind when giving the advice?  Moreover, it is illegal for anyone other than an attorney licensed by the North Carolina State Bar to give legal advice.  If you have been given legal advice by a police officer, it is recommended that you report it to the North Carolina State Bar.

In all cases where a motorist is issued a ticket, having a trial on the merits of the case is always an option.  However, it may be less of a gamble and more advantageous to negotiate with the district attorney's office to have your charge reduced or dismissed.  You will find below some possible outcomes for cases that are negotiated to lesser offenses, or otherwise dismissed, thereby reducing or eliminating any impact on your driver's license or insurance.

Please read my Disclaimer regarding the name of my website (TicketFixIt.com) and how it relates to my relationship with the district attorney's office.

 

 

Speeding Ticket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being convicted for a speeding violation can cost you dearly, but may not necessarily have to.  As a general rule, it is not recommended that anyone simply just pay their ticket without consulting an attorney.  Doing so may jeopardize your privilege to drive as well as cause your automobile insurance rates to significantly increase for three years.  My office offers a free initial telephone consultation regarding this type of matter.  Give me a call to find out what your options are and the benefits and consequences of each. 

The driverís license points and insurance rate increase you are facing can usually be reduced or eliminated. You may not have to appear in court; in most cases I can appear on your behalf though use of the Waiver of Personal Appearance form.  Typically, after accepting a case I will appear in first appearance court on behalf of the client and have their case continued to allow for time to 1) negotiate a plea to a lesser charge, 2) complete a defensive driving course, or 3) to save up the money necessary to resolve their case.  Your particular situation, with regard to the class of license, your prior driving record and the facts surrounding the charged offense, will determine what options are available to you.  In the majority of speeding cases it is possible to negotiate a plea reduction to Improper Equipment resulting in no driver license points and no insurance points

Speeding in North Carolina can be a criminal offense.  Speeding in excess of 80 mph and exceeding the speed limit by 15 mph are both Class 2 misdemeanors (punishment guided by structured sentencing for misdemeanors in North Carolina).  These offenses are considered non-waivable meaning that court attendance is mandatory.  However, it most cases it is possible to negotiate the original criminal charge down to an infraction thereby making your charge waivable which would then allowing me to appear, negotiate on your behalf, and resolve your case without you being present. 

If you are charged with driving at 90 mph or greater in Gaston County, you are required to attend court.  However, in some circumstances it may be possible for me to appear on your behalf without you being present so long as I can get the District Attorney and Judge to consent to it.  In all cases where I represent a defendant charged with speeding in excess of 90 mph, I always recommend that the defendant complete a driver improvement course; when in court, I need to be able to say some good things about you and your having completed such a course is a good thing.  In Gaston County, if you are charged with Speeding 90 mph or greater the remedy is usually limited to either a trial on the merits of your case or a negotiated plea to Reckless Driving.  Several factors determine whether it will be possible to negotiate a Speeding 90 or greater charge down to Reckless Driving to include: 1) the driver's past record, 2) the facts and circumstances surrounding the ticket at hand, 3) any comments made by the officer issuing the ticket, and 4) any mitigating factors made known to the Judge and the Assistant District Attorney by the defense attorney.  A negotiated plea to reckless removes the mandatory requirement that your driving privilege in North Carolina be suspended based on the speed.  However, your North Carolina driver's license may still be revoked under N.C. Gen. Stat. 20-16, 20-16.5, 20-17, et. al.  The length of your suspension will be governed by N.C. Gen. Stat. 20-19.

North Carolina is a member of both the Driver License Compact and Non-resident Violator Compact and reports all motor vehicle convictions and revocations per the compacts.  The Driver License Compact deals primarily with a driving conviction in one member state being credited against the driving record of the licensed driver's home state.  All drivers with an out of state driver's license who receive a conviction for a motor vehicle offense in North Carolina will have the conviction reported back to their home state, the state that issued their driver's license.  Once the conviction is reported to the driver's home state, the laws of the driver's home state will then be applied to determine the impact, if any, on the driver's license and insurance.  When two states are members of the Non-resident Violator Compact, if one state revokes a persons privilege to drive, the other member state is obligated to revoke the persons privilege to drive until the driver's privilege is reinstated in the first state.  While I will advise each client on their best course of action regarding their ticket in North Carolina, drivers who are issued a driver's license by a state other than North Carolina should consult an attorney from their home state to inquire about how a negotiated plea or possible conviction in North Carolina will affect them in their home state.

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Inspection Violation

Under the Clean Air Act (1990), states are required to implement vehicle emission inspection programs in metropolitan areas whose air quality does not meet federal standards.

An emissions inspection of a motor vehicle in the Counties of Cabarrus, Durham, Forsyth, Gaston, Guilford, Mecklenburg, Orange, Union, and Wake consists of a visual inspection of the vehicle's emissions control devices to determine if the devices are present, are properly connected, and are the correct type for the vehicle and, if the vehicle is fewer than 25 model years old and not a 1996 or later model, an analysis of the exhaust emissions of the vehicle to determine if the exhaust emissions meet the standards for the model year of the vehicle set by the Environmental Management Commission. 

If the vehicle is a 1996 or later model, an analysis of data provided by the on‑board diagnostic (OBD) equipment installed by the vehicle manufacturer to identify any deterioration or malfunction in the operation of the vehicle that would cause an increase in the emission of pollutants by the vehicle that violates standards for the model year of the vehicle set by the Environmental Management Commission. To pass an emissions inspection a vehicle must pass both the visual inspection and, if the vehicle is fewer than 25 model years old and not a 1996 or later model, the exhaust emissions analysis or, if the vehicle is a 1996 or later model, the OBD analysis. When an emissions inspection is performed on a vehicle, a safety inspection must be performed on the vehicle as well.

Generally, an inspection violation will not result in driver license points in North Carolina but is an infraction which carries a possible fine of up to $50 (plus court costs).  If you have been cited for an inspection violation it may be possible for me to appear on your behalf and negotiate with the local District Attorney's Office to have the charge against you dismissed.

Note that if you have been charged with Forging an Inspection Certificate, you are charged with a Class I felony and your court appearance is mandatory.

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Driving Without Insurance

The owner of each motor vehicle registered North Carolina must maintain financial responsibility continuously throughout the period of registration.  Financial responsibility must be in the form of either a liability insurance policy, a financial security bond, a financial security deposit or by qualification as a self-insurer.  Violation of this offense is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor (punishment guided by structured sentencing for misdemeanors in North Carolina). 

This offense carries three driver license points.

I may be able to negotiate with the District Attorney's Office to have this charge against you dismissed.

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Registration Violation

All residents of North Carolina owning a vehicle, unless otherwise exempt, that is intended to be operated upon any highway of this State must register the vehicle with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles. A conviction for failure to register your vehicle when required to do so is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor (punishment guided by structured sentencing for misdemeanors in North Carolina). 

I may be able to negotiate with the District Attorney's Office to have this charge against you dismissed.

Note that vehicle registration offenses involving fraud constitute a Class I felony for which the defendant must appear in court.

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Failure to Give Notice of Name or Address Change

A person whose address changes from the address stated on a drivers license must notify the Division of the change within 60 days. If the person's address changed because the person moved, the person must obtain a duplicate license within that time limit stating the new address. A person who does not move but whose address changes due to governmental action may not be charged with this violation.

A person whose name changes from the name stated on a drivers license must notify the Division of the change and obtain a duplicate drivers license stating the new name within 60 days.

I may be able to negotiate with the District Attorney's Office to have this charge against you dismissed.

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Unsafe Movement

The offense of Unsafe Movement is considered an infraction carrying two driver license points.  If you have been cited for an unsafe movement, you:

1) may have been found at fault in an accident.  Whether you will incur insurance points resulting in an insurance rate increase will depend on the particular circumstances of the resulting accident and the outcome of your charged traffic offense.  It may be possible to have this offense dismissed by the District Attorney's Office.

OR

2) made an unsafe movement in starting, stopping or turning your vehicle.  It may be possible to have this offense dismissed by the District Attorney's Office.

Alternatively, in cases where a driver is charged for this offense when there was not an accident, it may be possible to have this charge negotiated down to an Improper Equipment resulting in no driver license or insurance points.

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Following Too Closely

Following Too Closely is considered an infraction carrying four driver license points and two insurance points.  The state has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

1) followed a vehicle more closely than was reasonable and prudent, with regard for speed of other vehicles, traffic, and road conditions;

OR

2) followed a vehicle that was being passed by another, and you failed to allow the passing vehicle enough space to re-enter the original land of travel (subject to exception).

It may be possible to have this charge negotiated down to an Improper Equipment thereby resulting in no driver license or insurance points.

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Improper Equipment

Failure to maintain your vehicles tires, brakes, speedometer, etc. may result in being issued a citation for Improper Equipment.  Also, as of December 1, 2007 Improper Equipment was made a lesser included offense of speeding. 

The North Carolina Legislature has, in Section 20-141 of the General Statutes, declared that no drivers license points or insurance surcharge shall be assessed on account of being found responsible for this offense.

It is possible for me to negotiate a plea reduction, on each client's behalf, for the majority of traffic offenses.  However, each licensed driver is allowed only one plea reduction to Improper Equipment every three years in Gaston County;  note that plea reductions to Improper Equipment that occur outside of Gaston County do not affect whether or not you will qualify for a plea reduction to Improper Equipment in Gaston County.

Current law provides that anyone cited for speeding more than 25 mph over the posted speed limit is not eligible for a plea reduction to improper equipment.

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Reckless Driving

The state, in prosecuting a driver for Reckless Driving, must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver drove a vehicle on a highway or public vehicular area:

1) carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights and safety of others;

OR

2) without due caution and circumspection at a speed or in a manner that could or does endanger other persons or property.

This offense is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor (punishment guided by structured sentencing for misdemeanors in North Carolina).  It carries four driver license points and four insurance points.

In some cases involving Reckless Driving it is possible to negotiate a plea to Improper Equipment resulting in no driver's license or insurance points.

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Prayer For Judgment Continued

A Prayer for Judgment Continued, or PJC, is a finding of guilt by the court without entry judgment.  When a PJC is granted, the defendant will be required to pay the costs of court; the defendant does not have to pay the fine associated with the charged offense. 

For driver's license (DMV) purposes, a driver is allowed two PJCs every five years resulting in no impact on your North Carolina driverís license points. The third PJC within five years is a conviction for all DMV purposes resulting in points on your driving record, but will have no effect on the previous two PJCs.  As of December 1, 2007 drivers charged with speeding more than 25 mph over the limit are not eligible for a PJC.

For insurance purposes, only one PJC is allowed per household every three years.  This first PJC will not cause your insurance rates to increase provided that no one in the household receives a second conviction for a moving violation for three years.  If anyone within the household receives a conviction for a moving violation within the three year period, your insurance company may then use the first ticket, for which your received the PJC, along with the second conviction when adjusting your insurance rates upwards.  A second PJC within the three year period will also allow the insurance company to take into consideration both convictions, the first and second, when raising your insurance rates.

Under North Carolina law, a person is considered to have been convicted of a crime if they have entered a plea of guilty or have been adjudicated guilty (a judgment of guilty entered into the record).  Therefore, if you plead guilty, or have a trial and are adjudicated guilty, and are thereafter granted a PJC, you are still considered to have been convicted of a crime.  In this case the PJC may be counted as a conviction for the purpose of determining a defendant's sentencing level when charged and convicted of a subsequent crime.  Also, convictions for Class 2 misdemeanor's or higher can be used to impeach a witnesses' testimony in court if the conviction occurred within the prior 10 years of the date that testimony given (subject to exception).

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Driving While Impaired

Driving While Impaired (DWI) is a very serious traffic offense.  Not only must you worry about losing your privilege to drive, but you must also worry about possible jail time, an insurance rate increase, a court imposed fine, potential problems with your current or future employment, forfeiture of the vehicle you were driving when charged, ignition interlock requirements, community service, etc.

If you have been charged with DWI you need help in navigating the frequently changing laws related to this offense.  Give my office a call and we will help you get through what will likely be one of the most challenging periods of your life.

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Commercial Driver License

My office knows that your livelihood rests on your keeping your Commercial Drivers License (CDL).  If you have a CDL and are convicted of a traffic offense, not only will you be assessed driver license points on a higher scale than those drivers without a CDL, but the court may also double the fine associated with the particular offense that you have been charged with. 

It may be possible to have your charged traffic offense negotiated down to an Improper Equipment thereby resulting in no driver license or insurance points.

If you have a CDL you must notify your employer within 30 days of conviction for any traffic violations (except parking). This is true no matter what type of vehicle you were driving.  Note that all states are connected to one computerized system to share information about CDL drivers.
 

You must notify your employer and the motor vehicle licensing agency in the state issuing your CDL within 30 days if you are convicted in any other jurisdiction of any moving traffic violation. This rule applies only to violations directly relative to driving and does not pertain to citations such as parking infractions. This is true no matter what type of vehicle you were driving. You must report all convictions of violations received while driving commercial vehicles and private vehicles (such as a private car).
 

Losing your Commercial Drivers License:

 

You will lose your CDL for at least one year for a first offense:

a) If you drive a CMV under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance (for example, illegal drugs).

b) If you leave the scene of an accident involving a CMV you were driving.

c) If you use a CMV to commit a felony.

If the offense occurs while you are operating a CMV that is placarded for hazardous materials, you will lose your CDL for at least three years. You will lose your CDL for life for a second offense. You will also lose your CDL for life if you use a CMV to commit a felony involving controlled substances.
 

You will lose your CDL:

a) For at least 60 days if you have committed two serious traffic violations within a three-year period involving a CMV.

b) For at least 120 days for three serious traffic violations within a three-year period. "Serious traffic violations" are excessive speeding (15 mph or more above the posted limit), reckless driving, improper or erratic lane changes, following a vehicle too closely, and traffic offenses committed in a CMV in connection with fatal traffic accidents.  We will help you in trying to keep "Serious Traffic Offenses" off your driving record. 
 

It is illegal to operate a CMV if your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is .04% or more. You will lose your CDL for one year for your first offense. You will lose it for life for your second offense. If your blood alcohol concentration is less than 0.04% but you have any detectable amount, you will be put out-of-service for 24 hours.
 

If you operate a CMV, you shall be deemed to have given your consent to alcohol testing for the above mentioned violations.
 

Some additional details on suspensions and revocations that apply to Commercial Vehicles requiring a CDL can be found in Chapter 1 in the online version of the Commercial Driver's Handbook.

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Other Offenses

My office handles all traffic matters.  If you do not see the offense that you have been charged with above, give us a call and we would be glad to help.

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What To Do When You Encounter the Police

 

 

A must see film produced by Flex Your Rights (If you are in a time crunch, you may skip to 5 minutes and 30 seconds into the below video to immediately view the film "10 Rules for Dealing with Police")

 

If you don't have time to view the above video, remember these important tips when you are pulled over or otherwise stopped by a police officer or government agent.

Always remain calm, collected and respectful. ďA police encounter is the worst time and place to vent your frustration with the police,Ē

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/SharpSticks/Asserting-your-rights-when-youre-stopped-by-the-cops-89039567.html#ixzz0lkngBPKu
 
  1. Remain calm, respectful and maintain your composure; and

  2. Exercise your right to remain silent; keeping quiet is the best way to exercise your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination; and

  3. Pay attention to what is going on around you in case you need to file a complaint against the police.  But do not openly state or hint that you are going to file a complaint, it can only make matters worse for you.

  4. Never consent to a search of your person or property.  Always state "I do not consent to searches".  You may be searched anyway, but by not waiving your Fourth Amendment right it may be possible to suppress anything discovered due to an illegal search. 

  5. Keep your hands to yourself and in plain view.  Never touch a police officer.

  6. Don't be fooled by police lies.  Police are allowed to lie to you to further their investigation.  See Item 2 above.

  7. Police need reasonable suspicion or probable cause to detain you and are not required to advise you that you can leave.  You must be assertive and ask "Am I being detained or am I free to leave?".  You may need to ask more than once during your encounter.

  8. Do not help the police in building a case against you; don't help them develop probable cause to arrest or cite you.  See Item 2 above.

  9. Never run from the police as it always gives them probable cause.

  10. Absent exigent circumstances (an emergency situation) the police are required to have a court order signed by a Judge to enter your home; never allow the police into your home without one.  If an exigent circumstance exists and police enter without a search warrant, do not resist but do state assertively that you do not consent to them entering your home and/or searching it.

  11. If arrested, exercise your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney.  When the police state that "anything that you say can and will be used against you," they really mean it.  Tell them you want to speak with your attorney L. Martin Taylor.

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Limited Driving Privilege

 

A Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) in North Carolina may be available to defendants who have lost their driving privilege (driver's license) for convictions of the following offenses:

  1. Speeding and/or reckless driving

  2. Certain felony convictions

  3. Stealing gas

  4. DWI

  5. Open container

It is important to know that a LDP does not fully restore your drivers license.  When granted a LDP you will only be allowed to drive for certain purposes and during certain times of the day/night.

When granted a LDP, the driver must always carry their LDP while driving.  Additionally, financial responsibility (automobile insurance) must be had before a LDP is granted and must be maintained throughout the LDP period.

If you have had your drivers license suspended for any of the above offenses, give my office a call to discuss whether or not you meet the particular requirements for a LDP.  Your prior driving record and the basis for your suspension will determine whether you are eligible.

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