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Understand How North Carolina Traffic Tickets Affect Your License and Insurance Points

How did things get so complicated?

You were driving along the Outer Banks of North Carolina, enjoying life. You saw a police car with flashing lights behind you, so you pulled over.

The police car did, too. And now you have a traffic ticket.

Your first thoughts might be, “How many points is this? What’s going to happen to my insurance? What do I do now?”

The first thing to do is relax. It may not be as bad as it seems.

Sometimes, “how to get out of a ticket” might mean “how to reduce the effect of a ticket.” Other times it might mean “how to keep my driver’s license.”

Let me explain.

Points in North Carolina

North Carolina has two kinds of points for traffic tickets: driver’s license points and insurance points. They stay on your records for three years, and if you get additional tickets during that time, those points will be added to the total. (Hint: Try not to do that!)

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But the number of points you get depends on the violation you are convicted of (or plead guilty to). That may be less serious than the violation listed on the ticket.

Driver’s License Points

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) places points against your driver’s license for certain types of violations. The North Carolina Driver’s Handbook has a complete list, but here is a sample of the violations and the points assigned:

  • Passing a stopped school bus – 5 points
  • Following too closely – 4 points
  • Driving on the wrong side of road – 4 points
  • Failure to yield right of way to pedestrian, bicycle, motor scooter, or motorcycle – 4 points
  • Failure to yield right of way to other vehicles – 3 points
  • Running through stop sign or red light – 3 points
  • Speeding in excess of 55 mph – 3 points
  • Speeding in a school zone in excess of the posted school zone speed limit – 3 points
  • Failure to properly restrain a child in a restraint or seat belt – 2 points
  • Littering involving a motor vehicle – 1 point

If you accumulate seven points, the state may assign you to a driver improvement clinic. If you accumulate 12 or more points within a three-year period, they may suspend your license.

Insurance Points

The North Carolina Safe Driver Incentive Plan (SDIP) was created to give drivers a financial incentive to practice safe driving habits.

Points are assessed for convictions and at-fault accidents. Like driver’s license points, insurance points stay on your record for three years and increase if you have additional convictions.

These points are assigned differently than driver’s license points. They start affecting your insurance rates the next time you renew or purchase insurance.

Here are some of the violations and insurance points that can be assessed:

  • Prearranged highway racing – 12 points
  • Driving while impaired (DWI) – 12 points
  • Speeding to elude arrest – 10 points
  • Reckless driving – 4 points
  • Passing a stopped school bus – 4 points
  • Speeding more than 75 mph when the speed limit is less than 70 mph – 4 points
  • Speeding more than 80 mph when the speed limit is 70 mph or higher – 4 points
  • Illegal passing – 2 points
  • Following too closely – 2 points
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road – 2 points
  • Speeding more than 10 mph over the speed limit at a speed between 56 and 75 mph – 2 points
  • Speeding 10 mph or less if the speed limit is 55 mph or higher – 2 points
  • Speeding 10 mph or less if the speed limit is under 55 mph – 1 point

This is how points affect your insurance rate:

  • 12 points – 340% increase

10 points – 260% increase

  • 8 points – 195% increase
  • 4 points – 80% increase
  • 3 points – 60% increase
  • 2 points – 45% increase
  • 1 points – 30% increase

How to Get out of a Ticket

Remember, sometimes this means “how to reduce the effect of a ticket.” I regularly work with law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges to get tickets dismissed or reduced.


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Sometimes, you can get a speeding ticket reduced. For example, if you were charged with going 15-20 mph over the posted speed limit, you might be able to get that reduced to 9 mph over or better.

If the charge is reduced, you will probably receive fewer, if any, driver’s license and insurance points.

You might also be able to get a speeding ticket reduced to a non-moving violation. This means no points would be assessed and your insurance will not increase.

In some North Carolina counties, it is permissible to reduce a speeding ticket to “Improper equipment – Speedometer.”

Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC)

A Prayer for Judgment Continued is like pleading guilty but not getting a conviction. Depending on the specific charges and circumstances, this might be how to get out of a ticket.

With a PJC, the violation stays on your record but no driver’s license or insurance points are assessed unless or until the court takes further action, which is very rare.

The granting of a PJC is not automatic or guaranteed. There are restrictions and conditions that must be met.

If you are convicted of certain serious traffic offenses or have a Commercial Driver’s License, you are ineligible for a PJC.

Going to Trial

Most traffic tickets are resolved by pleading guilty and paying a fine, or by getting them reduced or dismissed.

But depending on your situation, going to trial may be the best answer to the question of how to get out of a ticket.

Minor traffic violations are tried before a judge with no jury. If you are charged with a felony offense, you have the right to request a jury trial.

If you request trial, a pre-trial conference may be scheduled. This gives you and the prosecutor an opportunity to work out a plea agreement. For instance, you might offer to plead guilty to a reduced charge with less severe consequences.

If you are considering this option, I strongly recommend that you consult with and be represented by an attorney.

Let Me Help!

Dealing with a traffic ticket in North Carolina can be confusing. But it doesn’t have to be!

You want to know how to get out of a ticket. I can help you find the best way to do that.

The process is simple:

  1. Send me some information about you and your ticket.
  2. I will set up a meeting to talk about your charges and your case. This meeting is absolutely free, with no strings attached. You can decide to hire me or you can walk away.
  3. I can normally represent you by a written Power of Attorney. This means you do not have to miss work or school to go to court. We can meet at your convenience to review the progress of the case and sign any documents.

I look forward to hearing from you!

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