What to Do When You Receive a Traffic Ticket - Part 5
Dec 28, 2017
Have you received a traffic citation? If so, you're in the right place.
North Carolina Attorney Bill Powers has been defending traffic matters for 25 years. In this episode, Attorney Powers answers the questions that matter to you when you receive a traffic ticket.
Second is, save the license if at all possible. And then third is, try to avoid the insurance premiums. And it's complicated. That's why I say, "Call and talk to a lawyer" because cousin ... What did we say? Cousin Steve or uncle Freddy, that may not know what they're talking about and the law may have changed since they got their citation 20 years ago.
Robert Ingalls: So let's say that somebody ... They work through it. They hire an attorney. They get their result that they want and they don't think their insurance is gonna go up. Well, turns out that when they get their next bill, their insurance has gone up and let's say that it shouldn't have. Is that something that they can call you and you might be able help them with?
Bill Powers: Sure. Sure. We do. And I'm nice about it. I see this more often in out-of-state carriers. As we've gotten larger and more global, maybe national in insurance a company in Connecticut will receive notice that you've received a citation and they just raise your rates and we remind them, "Just thought I'd give you a copy of North Carolina General Statute number and that this person has not had X, Y and Z and set forth protocols." Yeah we regularly tell insurance carriers you can't do that. Now this is where the game playing gets me ornery. Whether you realize it or not, you may be receiving, and I'm gonna do my air-quotes again. What do for air-quotes on audio? I don't what to use.
Robert Ingalls: I usually just say, "I'm gonna do my air-quotes there".
Bill Powers: Okay. We're giving you discounts and so we're not really raising your rates. We're just not giving you the discounts anymore. And the substantive effect is that you have less dollars in your wallet. If they are not giving you the discounts for ... and you see these things, you know, I'm a non-smoker, I have a four cylinder car versus an eight cylinder car with a blower on the front or whatever, if they're not giving you the discounts anymore there's not a whole lot I can do about that. It's just like well maybe you go to another-
Robert Ingalls: Sounds like they just kind of found a back door.
Bill Powers: Yeah.
Robert Ingalls: To charge you more.
Bill Powers: No, it is. And I've seen it more in the last three to five years then we used to. Again because we have become so global in our perspectives, there isn't this relational aspect. When I was coming up, I was insured through Innagon Insurance Company. I don't even think they're in business anymore. And my dad's like, "Son this who you go to and this is ..." I remember having a relationship with my Innagon person and I would call them up and that's kind of ended. There's not a relationship with insurance carriers now. It seems like find the cheapest insurance, which is a mistake as well. If we're talking about insurance, cheap ain't good and good ain't cheap.
Robert Ingalls: Yeah, it's nice when you're paying those premiums. It's terrible when you're on the side of the road and you need something.
Bill Powers: Yeah. Yeah. Or in the hospital and have had some-
Robert Ingalls: Or in court.
Bill Powers: Yes. So yeah we do, we call carriers up. I try not to be irascible with them or irritate them, but at the same time, there are times where I just send them a letter saying "You can't do this." And normally in the vast majority of them, there is some positive result. Very rarely do I actually have to write a, pen of a letter to the Commissioner of Insurance in North Carolina and advise them that we ... I've done it a couple times and in many instances, I can't say every, but because I don't remember everything, but in many instances we've been able to use the statute to our benefit. That's part again, part of lawyers, we know what the law says or doesn't say. That's why you need to be careful about how you handle these things.
Robert Ingalls: Perfect. So the takeaway there is even after your traffic tickets done, if your insurance goes up and you don't think it maybe should have, give an attorney a call.
Bill Powers: Right.
Robert Ingalls: Right. Is there anything else that we need to know when we receive a traffic ticket?
Bill Powers: I think timing is important, because what happens is people get the citation. The newer ones in the cars now, they call them e-citations. I think the state was trying to get all-
Robert Ingalls: They're hip.
Bill Powers: Yeah. Hello millennia we got e-citation. Like that's better. It's a piece of paper that's written on, you know sometimes it prints out well and it's a car printer that police officers use. It's real easy to be confused for a McDonald's burger wrapper and put underneath the seat. And you forget about going to court and some citations use just get a kind of a nasty letter from DMV saying "You missed court and on this date, we are going to suspend your license." I've also had other cases where you hear the knock, knock, knock on your door, "I'm Trooper so-and-so and I'm here to pick up your driver's license. Thank you very much." And people are like, "I didn't know troopers came to your house" and I'm like, "Yeah, we have that level of service in North Carolina."
It's called a pick-up order and they pick up your license and if you miss court and it was one that you're not allowed to miss court, sometimes they're picking up more than your license. Sometimes they take you with the license to court and jail, which I do see. And we're joking about it now but I happens man.
Robert Ingalls: It's real when you're in the orange.
Bill Powers: Yeah. You won't have trouble keeping it real. You know you're not going to Sing Sing or anything like that, but it's an embarrassing process. They take your picture when you get locked up.
Robert Ingalls: I'm sure it goes in those magazines that people pick up at the gas station.