We’ve all been there… running late for a morning meeting and driving along the highway a little too quickly trying to make up the time. You look up in the rear view mirror to see blue lights flashing behind you and you get that sinking feeling in your stomach. You’re pulled over by the police and issued a traffic citation for speeding.
A speeding ticket might not seem like a big deal because, hey, we all make mistakes, right? But the consequences of a speeding violation can go far beyond having to pay a simple fine. They can dig deeply into your wallet—as well as affect your driver’s license, road privileges, driving record and insurance rates.
So now that you’ve been ticketed for speeding, what’s the next step?
First, let’s explore the statistics. An average speeding ticket fine in North Carolina is about $30, plus around $190 in court costs. In addition to fines, drivers who have been cited for speeding can potentially receive points against their licence. These points are issued based on several factors, such as the speed limit in the zone where the driver was caught speeding, the speed they were driving at, and where the infraction took place. Car insurance companies use these points to decide what premium to charge drivers. The more points a driver has on their record, the higher the insurance premium.
According to nerdwallet.com, drivers pay an average of $1,619.63 for a $30 speeding ticket in insurance premium increases because of the points against their license. That’s a whole lot of unnecessary cash to shell out for a speeding ticket!
Now let’s talk about the consequences…
Every state has different driving laws as well as varying punishments for violating these laws. The laws in North Carolina are similar to those of many states. According to the state’s official Driver’s Handbook, your driver’s license can be suspended for 30 days if you are caught going more than 15 MPH over the speed limit at a speed of more than 55 MPH. So getting nabbed going 71 in a 55 zone means goodbye license for a month. A second such violation within 12 months results in a 60-day suspension.
The Insurance and License Point System
A speeding violation adds 3 points to your driving record, and 12 points (4 speeding violations) within 3 years most likely results in a suspended license. If this happens, 8 points in the 3 years following means a longer suspension. And out-of-state violations count toward the point total.
Getting a license reinstated isn’t necessarily easy. It requires:
- a payment of $65
- proof of identification and valid insurance
- and tests, if applicable.
In some cases, drivers must complete a driving clinic before regaining their license and pay clinic attendance fees.
Teen Drivers Face Greater Penalties
For teenage drivers, the consequences of a speeding violation are much greater. In most cases, any violation means a suspended license, for 30, 60 or 90 days, effective immediately. Drivers with a learner’s permit face additional months spent in the permit period if they’re caught speeding—or they might have to start the permit period all over.
The High Cost of Speeding
The financial impact of a speeding ticket can be high, too, sometimes much higher than expected. Although a fine for speeding is usually $30 (which might seem like small change), the addition of court costs brings the total to over $200. And a violator’s insurance rates will almost certainly go up. Insurance companies use a point system to adjust rates as they see fit (this system is not the same as the DMV’s). Rate hikes can be steep. In Winston-Salem, for example, annual insurance rates on average jump about $450 after a speeding violation.
What can you do to prevent it?
What’s the best effective way to avoid these consequences? Stay alert behind the wheel, keep from getting distracted—and don’t press hard on the gas pedal. Staying under the limit is cheaper, and safer, for everyone.
What if you already got a speeding ticket?
Fortunately, there is some good news; drivers do have some options. Hiring an attorney will give drivers an advocate and advisor. An attorney can assist you in working with the courts to reduce the charge or possibly get the case dismissed. Reduced charges typically assess less points, if any, against a driver’s license. Less points means less insurance premium hikes, which, in turn, will save the driver money in the long run.
For example, an attorney may be able to help you plead guilty to a an improper equipment citation. An improper equipment citation is usually around $263 in Forsyth County and can be even higher in surrounding counties. However, an improper equipment citation is a non-moving violation. Therefore, it does not assess any points against a driver’s license.
If a charge cannot be reduced, an attorney may be able to assist drivers in entering a Prayer for Judgment Continued. A driver entering into a Prayer for Judgment Continued recognizes their guilt and receives a conviction, however, there are no insurance consequences. Prayers for Judgment Continued have many rules and restrictions, but an attorney can help a driver navigate these rules and decide if this is the best course of action for the driver.
Bottom line, a driver who has been issued a citation for speeding should consider hiring an attorney. An experienced traffic attorney may save a driver money in the long run and help avoid unnecessary insurance premium hikes.
Maxwell Baker is a Juris Doctor Candidate at Elon University School of Law, Class of December 2017. He graduated from Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington, DE with a degree in Business Administration. In his free time, Maxwell enjoys playing golf and enjoying the outdoors.