When you receive a traffic ticket, you might not think of contesting it. However, it is not only possible to fight a traffic ticket in court but it could be important that you do so. Even if you receive a conviction for a so-called minor ticket, you will incur points on your driving record and possibly cause your auto insurance rates to go up.
If you are new to fighting a traffic ticket, you probably have questions about what you should do. Traffic tickets vary according to offense, so your case will likely differ from others. However, if you understand some basics, you may have a better grasp on how to proceed.
Can I have an attorney present?
According to the North Carolina Judicial Branch website, the court will not require you to have an attorney, but you may hire one if you wish. Your lawyer can advise you of your rights, negotiate with the prosecutor, and act as your representative during a hearing. Depending on the case, your attorney may also go to court and handle the case without you needing to be there.
Can I postpone my court date?
If summoned to court, you must appear at a certain date. A failure to do so can result in the court imposing a failure to appear fee, a suspension of your driver’s license, and possibly seeking your arrest. However, if you know making a court appearance will burden you, you may ask the judge to postpone your court date through a continuance. Be aware that a judge may not postpone your appearance, so you may have to appear on your original date regardless.
Can I appeal a conviction?
In the event District Court convicts you of a misdemeanor traffic ticket, you have options to appeal the ruling. You can ask Superior Court for a new trial. You may ask a judge to hear your case or you can request a jury trial. If Superior Court rules against you in your new trial, you may appeal to the Court of Appeals.
Are there ways to dismiss my charge?
You may be able to have your traffic charge reduced or dismissed in exchange for attending a traffic safety course or by participating in a deferral program. You might also secure a prayer for judgment continued that will let a judge drop your fine. In some cases a PJC still means a conviction, so you should learn whether a PJC will be of benefit to you in your case.