All posts by Doug Portnoy




Most people are not aware that it is against the law to operate a blue or red light either inside or outside of your vehicle.   The rule applies to any forward facing light or any light that is connected to the vehicle’s electrical or battery system.   The offense is a class 1 misdemeanor – the highest offense short of driving while revoked for dwi.   If you are stopped for this violation make sure you remove the light from your vehicle immediately and then call us for assistance.

Failure to Pay Toll Can Be Costly


Most people do not realize that failing to pay a toll for using a highway in North Carolina can have severe consequences.    First, if you receive two or more bills for unpaid open road tolls and do not pay them within 30 days you are assessed a penalty of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) and a processing fee.   Not only that but  if you fail to pay the toll fee, the processing fee and the penalty then the Turnpike Authority can block the renewal of your registration!   This can cause you to be stopped and given a ticket that cost you another $250.00!  In the end a simple $1.00 highway fee can end up costing you over $300.00.

New Moped Registration Laws



N.C. House of Representatives this week approved a bill to authorize annual registration and tags for mopeds, and initiate a study into the feasibility of insurance requirement for the unlicensed drivers.

House Bill 83-29 becomes effect July, 2015 and reads,

“Mopeds shall be registered with the Division. The owner of the moped shall pay the same base fee and be issued the same type of registration card and plate issued for a motorcycle. In order to be registered with the Division and operated upon a highway or public vehicular area, a moped must meet the following requirements:

(1) The moped has a manufacturer’s certificate of origin.

(2) The moped was designed and manufactured for use on highways or public vehicular areas.”

Be aware of these requirements or you could face getting a ticket and a hefty fine.


Failure to Appear Overview

courtroomIf you are charged with a motor vehicle offense (be it a felony, misdemeanor or infraction) and you fail on your court date or you do not pay a citation within 20 days after handling the ticket in the court then the clerk of court must report this to DMV. (The failure to appear also triggers imposition of a $200 additional court cost).

When it receives notice from the clerk DMV must mail or personally deliver to the person an order revoking his or her driver’s license, effective on the 60th day after the order is mailed or delivered. If you handle the ticket before the 60th day then the revocation never becomes effective and any entries on your driving record related to the revocation are deleted. To resolve the matter, you must do one of four things, depending upon the circumstances giving rise to the court’s report to DMV: (1) dispose of the charge in the trial division in which he or she failed to appear when the case was last called for trial or hearing; (2) demonstrate to the court that you are not the person charged with the offense; (3) pay the penalty, fine, or costs ordered by the court; or (4) demonstrate that your failure to pay the penalty, fine, or costs was not willful and that he or she is making a good faith effort to pay or that the penalty, fine or costs should be remitted (striking failure to appear).

Once you resolve the matter in court, the court so notifies DMV. (Sometimes the clerk does not notify DMV unless the client or attorney take affirmative steps to do so i.e. faxing copy of disposition to dmv or bring a disposition screen to a dmv hearing officer). If the revocation order becomes effective before the charge is resolved, your license remains revoked until you resolve the matter by completing the necessary act of the four listed above and pays a $50 license restoration fee.

If a clerk sends an order to DMV “through clerical mistake or other inadvertence,” (failure to appear sent in error) the clerk’s office that sent the report of noncompliance must withdraw the report and send notice to DMV, which corrects its records. When this occurs, your driver’s license is reinstated without paying the restoration fee. In contrast, if the failure to appear is stricken but no notice is sent to DMV withdrawing then you must pay the $50 restoration fee to regain your driver’s license. A related provision in G.S. 7A-304(a)(6) requires the court to waive the $200 fee for failing to appear if the person demonstrates that he or she failed to appear because of an error or omission of a judicial official, a prosecutor or a law enforcement officer. (Courts also have discretionary authority to waive such costs upon upon a written finding of just cause).

Although most of this information passing between the clerk and dmv is done electronically it is always better practice for a hard copy of the disposition to be hand delivered or faxed to dmv. This may involve additional work on behalf of the attorney and additional fees but without this failsafe procedure many updates fall through the cracks.

If you have a failure to appear caused by not coming to court or not paying a fine then call Douglas Portnoy at 919-875-8773 for competent legal assistance.

Offenses that cause a License Revocation

imagesCA3D7462There are many convictions that will cause your license to be suspended in North Carolina. If this occurs then in most cases you will have to wait a period of non-operation before you can even be eligible for a limited privilege – to cover the remaining period of revocation. Moreover, different limited privileges have different procedures and costs involved. This is a complicated area of the law that requires competent and knowledgeable counsel.

Here is a partial list of revocable offenses

Speeding, over 55 and more than 15 over the limit

Speeding, in excess of 80 mph

Two or more speeding tickets over 55 in a 12 month period

Speeding in excess of 55 and reckless driving in a 12 month period

Speeding over 75 where the limit is less than 70

Speeding in excess of 80 where the limit is 70

Accumulation of 12 or more points in a 3 year period

Accumulation of 8 or more points in a three year period, after having lost license for points

Driving while impaired

Driving while revoked

Any moving violation which occurs at a time when the license was revoked

Non-payment of child support

2 open container charges in a 12 month period

Driving with a reported blood alcohol content of .08 or more

Failure to appear on a traffic citation for more than 60 days

Failure to comply with fines and costs on a traffic
Driving After Consuming alcohol OR DRUGS < 21 y.o. Speeding and reckless on same date Speeding over 55 mph and reckless within 12 months Willful spontaneous racing with another MV Willful prearranged racing of MV Watching/Betting/ Loaning a car for prearranged racing Driving after Judge ordered non-operation of MV as part of suspended sentence. Manslaughter by MV Misd. Death by MV Manslaughter while under influence of impairing substance Assault by MV Speeding > 15 mph and attempt to avoid arrest

2 reckless driving within 1 year

Failure to Pay Child Support

Revocation/Refusal of Probation for Felony
Dropping out of high school < 18 y.o. License revocation for any reason in any other state. Refusal to submit to blood/breath test Conviction of Impaired Instruction Aid and Abet DWI Aid and Abet DWLR Involvement in MV accident with No. Ins. Two traffic citations w/in one year for provisional licensee If you are charges with any of these offenses or if you are convicted and need help determining your eligibility for a limited privilege give us a call at 919-875-8773

How to Act When Pulled Over by Officer

traffic stopIn some instances how you respond to a traffic stop can affect the ultimate disposition of your case. If you are antagonistic then the officer will note this on the report and this can affect what plea you are offered. You do not have to agree with the reason you are pulled over but you should try not to give the officer a reason to make you a special case.

When you find that an officer is attempting to pull you over then I would advise the following:

1) Pull over to a safe area.

2) Stay in the car.

3) Turn off your engine, roll down your window and turn on your dome lights.

4) Place your hands on top of your steering wheel.

5) Stay calm.

6) Be courteous and polite.

7) If you plan on fighting the ticket, keep answers short and don’t admit any wrongdoing.

8) Wait for the officer to ask for your documents.

9) Move slowly and do not give the officer any reason to be alarmed.

10) Don’t argue.

11) Be safe when merging back into traffic.

12) Call Doug Portnoy at 919-875-8773

Child Support Suspension

Child Support License SuspensionChild Support License Suspension Most people are unaware that your license can be suspended for failing to pay child support. NCGS 110-142.2 provides an enforcement remedy to suspend and/or restrict a noncustodial parent’s (NCP’s) ability to drive or register a motor vehicle if the NCP is at least ninety (90) days delinquent in child support payments or fails to comply with a subpoena pursuant to paternity and/or child support establishment. Judges have several options when a noncustodial parent (NCP) with a valid North Carolina driver license is cited to court on a Motion And Order To Show Cause. A judge can order a time-limited or an indefinite driver license suspension. Either of these suspensions can have limited driving privileges attached to them. A limited driving privilege allows the NCP to drive on days and times specified by the judge. A judge could decide to suspend a driver license and stay the suspension conditional on the NCP entering into a payment plan.

When I Received the Speeding Ticket the Officer Told Me …..

got pulled over for speeding in raleigh ncOfficers will often give advice as to have to handle a speeding ticket when they issue a ticket in order to make the ticket seem more palatable.

Keep in mind that officers are:

  • not lawyers and cannot give legal advice
  • trying to avoid any potential conflict with a driver at the scene
  • usually issue many tickets and do not remember giving advice to any particular driver.

The tickets are handled in court by the district attorney not the officer.

The only advice you should accept is the one given by a lawyer.

Be Careful of Changes to DWLR and No Insurance Laws

Beginning with offenses committed after December 1, 2013 Driving While License Revoked and No Insurance charges have been reclassified as lower misdemeanors. A driving while license revoked is now a class 3 misdemeanor as long as the reason for the revocation was not impaired driving. Driving without insurance is also treated as a class 3 misdemeanor which also makes it a waivable offense. Another apparent benefit of this statute is that pursuant to 20-28(a1) a conviction of driving while license revoked will also be treated as a conviction of a no operators license for license and insurance purposes. The problem is that even though the class of misdemeanor has been reduced the dwlr conviction will still cause a suspension and, therefore, has to be handled properly (dismissal or prayer for judgment).

Charging language. The language of the citation used has been revised to reflect whether the dwlr is for an impaired or non-imparied offense. This is why you will see on the calendar the language “dwlr – non-impaired” meaning the revocation was not related to impaired driving or a refusal.