Can My Insurance Company Raise My Rates? What Happens to Insurance with Tickets? If I get a Traffic Violation for going over the Speed Limit do I Need to Appear in Court?
Traffic Tickets, Motor Vehicle, and Insurance Points can be quite complicated. It doesn’t hurt to consult with a lawyer – Bill Powers
What are Insurance Points?
North Carolina has two distinct point systems when dealing with traffic violations. The first “Points” system relates to your driving record and is sometimes referred to as “Driving Record” or “DMV Points.”
Points imposed by the Department of Transportation – Division of Motor Vehicles DMV are set by statute in N.C.G.S. §20-16.
The other point system, which may be referred to as “Insurance Points,” is used by insurance companies when determining the rates they will impose. Insurance Points are also regulated in North Carolina and are in part addressed in the Safe Driver Incentive Plan.
It is important to note the Laws in North Carolina regarding moving violations, insurance, and motor vehicle points are subject to change.
As an example, the law in North Carolina changed (Effective March 1, 2016) regarding the dollar value of losses associated with “minor” and “major” accidents in N.C.G.S. §58-36-75.
The North Carolina General Assembly, reflecting the Safe Driver Incentive Program the SDIP, places limits on insurance carriers regarding the issuance of “points,” rates and policy terms.
Put simply, there can be benefits of a safe driving history and record – Bill Powers
Subject to the SDIP and North Carolina General Statutes, a limited number minor traffic offenses and even “at fault” or “responsible” wrecks, (if meeting certain conditions), may be “forgiven” to some extent. (It can be complicated!)
- Insurance points may be assessed and used by insurance companies to determine and otherwise set premiums
- Points against a Driver’s License, while related to the offense itself, are technically different from insurance points
- There are some instances where the specific number of Insurance Points are different from assessed Motor Vehicle DMV points
- The purpose of a “points system” in NC is to promote safe driving by giving a financial incentive for safe driving
- Motor Vehicle points, while also purposed in encouraging better driving habits, can also serve another purpose:
- Removing exceptionally dangerous drivers from the roadway by revocation or suspension of a license or privilege to drive
- There are limitations placed on insurance companies as to how much they can raise rates based on driving history
Traffic Law issues in North Carolina can be deceptively complex and carry long-term consequences – Bill Powers
See More: NC Safe Driver Incentive Plan 2016
What Happens to Insurance Following a Traffic Violation or Speeding Ticket?
- Insurance premiums, depending upon prior driving history, convictions, moving violations, and “at fault” wrecks:
- May increase by a pre-determined amount (%), for a specified period of time
- Convictions for certain offenses may also result in being referred to the “re-insurance facility” or the “facility”
- Even with a spotty driving record or history, North Carolina provides for the opportunity to secure automobile liability coverage in some form:
- Normally relates to “high risk” drivers
- May be for liability coverage only
- May be more expensive
- NCRF North Carolina Reinsurance Facility
How Can Traffic Offenses Affect My Driver’s License?
If convicted of or found responsible to certain offenses and “moving violations,” a driving record may reflect both a conviction. . .and points, when appropriate.
With regard to TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS, entry of a Prayer for Judgment Continued PJC may still be “reported” or appear a driving record / history.
Prayers for Judgment Continued or an PJC are not automatic and they are not without limitations or consequences – Bill Powers
- The points you receive on your driving record can affect your insurance points (see SDIP) and lead to increased rates. Not only will Insurance Agents ask about prior tickets and wrecks, they will often “pull” a copy of a driving record. One should understand the worse the official record or history, the worse (more expensive) the insurance premiums tend to be. One would also be wise to pull an OFFICIAL DRIVING RECORD, as private companies and their associated “record checks” are not always correct or updated.
- The North Carolina Department of Transportation – Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) also keeps track of how many points you have, but for a different reason: Suspensions and Revocations. If too many points are accumulated during a specificied period of time (OR for certain serious offenses), there can be consequences including, but not limited to:
- Suspension / Revocation of Driver’s License
- Driver Improvement Courses
- Restrictions Placed on Driver’s License
- Restoration Fees
- Court Costs
What are the Points?
The NC General Assembly has determined the set of points to be added on to a driver’s license “history” or “record” for convictions of and/or responsibility to several different violations (SEE BELOW).
The more serious the offense (as Determined by the NCGA), the higher the schedule of point values to be added.
- N.C.G.S. 20-16 sets forth a Schedule of Point Values
- DMV traditionally tracks and reports offenses by offense and conviction / responsibility dates
- DMV continues to track points and convictions, even if a motorist is otherwise suspended or revoked
- DMV will share and receive information from other states through the NCIC
Based upon the NC General Statute(s), the amount of Driver’s License Points each violation adds is as follows:
Is There a Way To Reduce How Many Points I Have On My Record?
Possibly. Driver improvement clinics are occasionally appropriate and therefore recommended.
Once completed, approved clinics may reduce the total number of points accumulated on an individual’s license.
In addition to an DMV Hearing Officer, a Judge may direct motorists to attend an improvement clinic.
Credit for a “point(s) credit” must qualify**
**BEWARE: WHILE THERE ARE A NUMBER OF ADVERTISED DRIVER IMPROVEMENT COURSES, NOT EVERY “CLINIC” OR “COURSE” IS APPROVED AND THEREFORE RECOGNIZED BY THE NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION – DIVISION OF MOTOR VEHICLES DMV AND/OR NORTH CAROLINA COURTS. SEEK COUNSEL FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS COMPLICATED AREA OF LAW.
Do I Need To Appear In Court for all Traffic Offenses?
- Some violations are deemed “waivable” and may not require attendance in Court
- Other tickets or offenses are, by statute, “non-waivable” and therefore require attendance in Court
- A Failure to Appear FTA may result in not coming to court
- Certain traffic violations are also criminal offenses, and therefore may result in an Order for Arrest OFA for non-appearance
- That is why consulting with a lawyer is recommended
If you are unsure as to whether or not your court appearance can be waived, you may benefit from legal advice after speaking with an traffic ticket attorneys. The forms and links provided herein are provided for educational purposes. The North Carolina General Assembly regularly amends the laws in North Carolina regarding traffic matters. Seek legal counsel for specific inquiries. The Traffic Law Attorneys at Powers Landreth, PLLC offer a free, confidential consultation.
Modified Transcription of “What Happens to Insurance with Tickets” for the Hearing Impaired
We have another online message board type of inquiry here. It’s involving speeding tickets. It says can I get a speeding ticket to not show up on my insurance? Good question, deceptively complex. The first rule of thumb is, as an attorney who handles these, is that we stop and say don’t just stand there, do something. Here that saying is don’t just do something, stand there. Get some information. There are some limitations that the North Carolina General Assembly has placed on insurance carriers, insurance companies, regarding rates and the ability to raise your rates in North Carolina.
Oftentimes you’ll see a ticket amended, even on the scene, by the police officer and they know this, that if you were going eleven or more miles an hour over they will reduce it to nine over, assuming that it would not affect your insurance. If you’ve had nothing else on your insurance or motor vehicle points, and there is a distinction, this is important … Again, this gets complicated. If there’s not anything else on your motor vehicle record and you have a nine over moving violation, then without going so much into detail, because there are always exceptions, generally speaking they’re not allowed to raise your rates.
I encourage people don’t just do something. Talk to a lawyer, someone who is well versed and experienced with these traffic type of offenses, and then let the lawyer ask you a series of questions. What have you had in the last three year period? What have you plead guilty to or been responsible to? Have you gone to driving school? Have you received a prayer for judgment? Have you had an wrecks? Is there anyone else in your household that’s had any wrecks? Did the insurance company pay for it?
By the way, we offer a free consultation on these type of deals and it’s also confidential. If we don’t think you need a lawyer, we’re going to tell you that. If we think, given the facts and circumstances that you’ve given us in the facts scenario, we can oftentimes tell you just pay the thing off. The answer to your question is it depends. Because there’s a free consultation and because it’s confidential, many lawyers in North Carolina give it, both of those, it’s not a big deal to call up and ask some questions. Great inquiry. It happens every day in North Carolina. Than you for your question.