Duncan A. McMillan

DWI/Traffic Cases

Speeding Violations

Individuals who are charged with speeding tickets generally fall into one of two categories. The first category are those drivers who have clean records and are concerned about preventing insurance rate increases.

The second category is composed of those drivers who have had a number of tickets, or who are charged with serious violations, and who are concerned about saving their driving privileges.

North Carolina General Statute 58-36-75 describes certain insurance waiver provisions under the Safe Driver Incentive Plan. That statute provides that a first conviction within a three year period for speeding 10 mph or less above the posted speed limit will not create any grounds for an increase in insurance premium points. (This waiver does not apply for speeding offenses that occur within a school zone.) This section of the law also provides that under certain circumstances where the driver has had an accident within the previous three year period, the 10 mile or less above the limit waiver does not qualify for the insurance premium enhancement point waiver.

Section (f) of NCGS 58-36-75 also provides that under the Safe Driver Incentive Plan, a Prayer for Judgment Continued shall not constitute a prior conviction for consideration of the waiver for a first conviction for speeding 10 mph or less above the speed limit. It is important to note, however, that the waiver for the Prayer for Judgment Continued only applies if the vehicle owner, the principle operator, or any licensed operator in the owner’s household, does not have a Prayer for Judgment Continued for any moving traffic violation during the three years immediately preceding the date of application or the preparation of the insurance policy renewal.

NCGS 20-16 sets out the violations that will authorize the Division of Motor Vehicles to suspend an operator’s license, as well as the schedule of motor vehicle points for various violations.

NCGS 20-17 sets out those offenses that carry mandatory revocations of an operator’s license. Obviously, when individuals are faced with such offenses as those listed in these two statutory references, insurance concerns pale in comparison to the necessity to drive.

Other statutes deal with issues related to “serious offenses” as they relate to individuals licensed as CDL licensees. Special consideration must be paid to traffic violations committed by individuals who have commercial driver’s licenses since what may appear to be fairly minor violations can have significant repercussions for those licensees.

Local Policy — Speeding Tickets (information updated 3/06)

Wake County comprises the Tenth District of the Judicial Districts in North Carolina. Mr. Colon Willoughby is the elected District Attorney for the Tenth District. His Chief Assistant District Attorney is Howard Cummings.

Mr. Willoughby sets the policy for what discretion his assistants have in amending or reducing traffic violations.

As it stands now, (12-28-05) speeding tickets of 20 mph or less above the posted limit can be reduced to “9 over”.

Tickets between 21 and 25 mph over the limit can be reduced to 14 mph over the posted limit.

Tickets between 26 and 30 mph over the limit can be reduced to 16 over the limit, or careless and reckless driving.

There is, however, a proviso. In Wake County, North Carolina, no ticket alleging a violation of speeding in excess of 90 mph will be reduced. Again, No Reductions are authorized under Mr. Willoughby’s policy, for speeding in excess of 90 mph.

I recommend that anyone charged with speeding more than ninety miles per hour enroll in a driver improvement class, perform one hour of community service for each mile by which his speed exceeded the posted limit, and obtain character references from Mother Theresa and Abraham Lincoln. I make this recommendation because some (but not many) of our local judges have more discretion and compassion than our local District Attorney.

Completing the driver improvement class and performing community service might satisfy a judge that you are deserving of a PJC (Prayer for Judgment Continued).

Young Drivers

The local DA also has a policy that encourages young drivers to complete a driver improvement class. Information on that policy can be accessed here. Spanish location can be accessed here.

The assistant DAs will sometimes refuse to amend or reduce traffic violations unless teenage drivers first complete the driving classes.

School Zone Tickets

If you have a speeding ticket in a school zone, you do not qualify for the Safe Driver Incentive insurance waiver for a first conviction for speeding 10 mph or less above the posted speed limit. (NCGS 58-36-75(f)). A conviction for speeding in a school zone carries three DMV points and two insurance points.

In order to avoid the assessment of these points, it is often necessary to request relief from the judge by asking for a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC). Some judges in our district will simply not grant PJCs in school zone cases. Some of our judges will grant such relief without reservation. There are also some judges who will grant PJCs, but only if the defendant performs community service to “earn” the PJC. Therefore, if you are charged with speeding in a school zone, you need to be prepared for the possibility that you will have to perform community service (usually about 24 hours) in order to prevent the assessment of insurance points.