North Carolina Traffic Stops and Citations
Highway patrols are intended to maintain safety on North Carolina roads, but they can also be a good way for the county and local police forces to make money. Last year alone, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol issued over 345,000 speeding tickets. Whenever you are pulled over in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, follow these tips in interacting with the officer. If you receive a ticket, it is important to understand the North Carolina driving point system, as well as your rights, before paying the ticket.
What to Do When Pulled Over
The first step to avoiding a traffic stop is to drive safely and within the speed limit. If you see or hear police sirens behind you, however, follow these steps to reduce the likelihood of a ticket:
- Turn on your turn signal to indicate lane changes;
- Move quickly but safely to the right side of the road;
- Be courteous: roll down your window and turn off your vehicle and any music that might be playing;
- Keep your hands on the steering wheel, quick movements may make the officer nervous or create a reason to search the vehicle;
- Do not rummage around your car for your license or registration until asked to by the police officer;
- Let the officer speak first. This is an important one—hostility or defensiveness will only increase the probability you will receive a ticket; and
- Let the officer tell you why he pulled you over, and do not give excuses—admissions can only be used against you in court.
Hopefully, these tips help you avoid a ticket. In the event you are issued a citation, however, it is important to understand that you have two options. A citation is not the equivalent of a conviction. Think of it more as an accusation. Therefore, you can either admit to the offense by pleading guilty and paying the fine, or you can challenge the accusation in court. Before deciding between these two options, it is important to understand the consequences of each decision.
North Carolina Points System
Like golf and the card game “Hearts,” the object of the North Carolina points system is to keep your score low. Each individual starts off with zero points. Any moving violation conviction results in points on your record, and different violations carry different points. For instance, if a driver is convicted of littering involving a motor vehicle, one point is added to their driving record. Three points are added for a driver convicted of running a stop sign, while a conviction for passing a stopped school bus loading or unloading children warrants a five-point addition.
More points typically results in higher insurance premiums. More importantly, if you accumulate 12 or more points within a three-year period, the game is over, and the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles has the authority to suspend your license without a hearing. In the three years following reinstatement of your license after suspension, if you receive 8 or more points, your license can be suspended again.
Clearly, admitting guilt and acquiring points on your record is something to avoid. Therefore, it is important to carefully weigh whether or not you should admit guilt or attempt to beat the citation in court. The attorneys at Remington & Dixon are experienced in traffic citation matters, and can help you make the right decision. Moreover, our guidance and representation can help you challenge the citation in order to avoid point additions. Call us today to take advantage of our experience at (704) 817-9050.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.