All posts by Douglas Portnoy

About Douglas Portnoy

I have been a lawyer for over 20 years and in that time I have helped thousands of people with a variety of legal matters. I enjoy the long term relationships that come with my job.

DWLR Law Changes

raleigh traffic ticket lawyer

Beginning this year,  the offense of DWLR does not carry a mandatory 1 year suspension as long as the revocation did not occur as a result of a DWI.   What the law does is basically make a common DWLR offense a non-moving violation for license purposes.  This law does not apply for offenses committed prior to December 31, 2015.   Therefore, one would still need to either get those charges dismissed or use a prayer for judgment to avoid a suspension.   This is good news for clients moving forward.

How to Handle a Traffic Ticket to Avoid an Insurance Increase

saving money on car insurance

saving money on car insurance

One of the most important things I do as an attorney is to assist clients in mitigating the affect of a speeding ticket on insurance.

When I interview my clients I always try to find out four things;

1) What the new ticket is for;
2) What other tickets the client has been convicted of;
3) The convictions of all drivers on the insurance policy; and
4) the insurance renewal date.

All of this information is essential in order to determine the best way to handle a ticket. Take a stop sign violation for instance. If the ticket does not involve an accident then the best outcome is normally to use a prayer for judgment. However, a prayer for judgment is only available to one member of a household every three years. Therefore, if anyone else on the policy has used a prayer for judgment in the past three years then that option would not be available.

The insurance renewal date is also very important and is often overlooked by less experienced attorneys. The reason for this is that insurance rates do not adjust midterm.

When the insurance renewal date arrives the insurance company checks the records of the drivers on the policy to determine whether a rate adjustment is appropriate. As such, if the case can be continued until after a renewal date then this may solve a problem such as prayer for judgment availability or tickets within the three year experience period.

If you need help with a traffic ticket please give a call for assistance.

Speeding in a School Zone

Speeding in a School Zone Raleigh Wake County

Speeding in a School Zone Raleigh Wake County

One of the more difficult cases that I handle is the speeding in a school zone ticket.   This charge is governed by NCCGS 20-141.1 which imposes a mandatory $250.00 fine plus court costs in the event of a conviction.   A speeding in a school zone will also cause an insurance increase no matter what the speed or zone.  For instance, a first time offender convicted of speeding 30 in a 25 mph school zone will cause an insurance point whereas a first time offender found responsible for speeding 30 in a 25 non-school zone will not.      In most of these cases I attempt to use a prayer for judgment which will be allowed by some judges as long as community service is performed.   I also will look at the way the ticket is written and whether or not the school zone was clearly marked or indicated and was visible to the driver.   These can lead to defenses that may be an option in the event a prayer for judgment is not available.

How to Read a Driving Record

got pulled over for speeding in raleigh ncOne of the more interesting things that I do on a daily basis is reviewing and interpreting driving records. The main reasons I do this is to resolve insurance issues, determine suspensions and failures to appear. When a suspension is caused by a failure to appear then the record becomes more difficult to read. For instance, a failure to appear that is disposed of after 60 days from the date of notice shows four different dates.

Those are

  1. the offense date,
  2. the missed court date,
  3. the failure to appear starting revocation date and
  4. the date of compliance (or conviction).

When dealing with a suspension these dates are crucial since a conviction of a moving violation that occurs (offense date) between the failure to appear start date and the disposal date (dates 3 and 4) causes a one year suspension.

These dates are also important for insurance purposes because the insurance companies look at all convictions that occur within a 3 year period to determine insurance rates upon renewal. As such, a five year old case that is disposed of within three years of renewal could cause an insurance increase.

If you have a failure to appear or have a case that occurred during a failure to appear period it is essential to have an attorney review your record to determine the best course of action.

Driving Clinic Affect on Insurance Rates

car driving clinic affects car insurance ratesMany of my clients ask me about driving clinics. Driving clinics or driving improvements courses are offered by NC DMV to enable a driver to lower their driver’s license points. As such, in a situation where a driver is in danger of accumulating 12 points for the first time then a driver improvement course will enable the driver to avoid a suspension. However, with regards to insurance points, a driving clinic does absolutely nothing since the license point system and insurance points system are different. Insurance companies can still look at a conviction to determine a bump in a person’s rate even if NC DMV has removed points by taking a clinic.

Speeding Ticket Suspensions

Many of my clients do not understand the potential affects that a seemingly simple traffic ticket could have on their license privilege. There are many speeding violations that could result in a suspension in the discretion of the NC DMV. Believe me, no one wants the discretion to suspend a license to be left in the hands of the DMV. For instance, if one is convicted of speeding over 55 mph twice in a 12 month period their license may be revoked. The important dates to look at are the first conviction date and the OFFENSE DATE of the second conviction. As a result, one cannot simply continue the second violation until after 12 months from the earlier conviction in order to avoid a suspension. Another common possible suspension violation is speeding over 75 when the speed limit is 65 of less. In these cases it is very important to hire an attorney. Although a limited privilege may be available in these circumstances those can be very expensive to maintain and are “limited” in scope.

Suspension Caused by Car Accident

Accident Causing Revocation

Frequently I come across clients whose license has been suspended due to a car accident.  These usually fall under two types

1) failure to have insurance at the time of the accident or
2) a judgment is obtained against them in civil court as a result of a car accident.

Often the client is not even the driver of the vehicle but was sued based on their ownership of the vehicle. The reason for this suspension is set out in N.C.G.S. 20-279.5 and N.C.G.S. § 20-279.13. The revocation regarding judgments reads:

(a) The Commissioner, upon the receipt of a certified copy of a judgment, which has remained unsatisfied for a period of 60 days, shall forthwith suspend the license and any nonresident’s operating privilege of any person against whom such judgment was rendered.

The only ways to get back one’s license upon a revocation based on such a judgment are:

1) if the judgment is stayed;
2) if the judgment is satisfied (paid in full);
3) the judgment creditor waives the suspension;
4) the judgment is over ten years old (or 20 if renewed) or
5) the judgment is discharged in bankruptcy.

If you need help with these types of situations please give our firm a call.

Move Over Law Extended To Maintenance Workers

Drivers are now required to pull over or slow down for utility and road maintenance workers displaying flashing amber lights.

If you are in an area with at least two or more lanes available in each direction, you’re required to move over at least one lane. If there’s only one traffic lane, then you have to slow down, and be prepared to stop.

This new group is being added to help prevent accidents and keep our roadways safer for these workers. If a driver gets cited for non-compliance with the “Move Over” law the penalty is a $250 fine, plus court costs.

Have a problem and need advice on a “Move Over” law violation?  Call us at 919-875-8773

New Expungement Law

Expungements in Raleigh

Expungement is a process to completely erase a criminal charge from a person’s record.

Previously this was available only for dismissals or convictions that happened when a person was a juvenile.

The new House Bill 1023 now allows expunctions of nonviolent felonies or nonviolent misdemeanors after 15 years of conviction as long as the person has had no other convictions for felonies or misdemeanors other than traffic violations.

To learn how we can help you with a criminal charge, call us at 919.875.8773

Explaining How Insurance Rates Are Determined

When your insurance renews the insurance company will check the record of all drivers on your policy for the three year period prior to the renewal. This period is called the “experience period”.

In NC an insurance company can raise your insurance premium if a person has more than one speeding ticket over 10 mph, if more than one prayer for judgment has been used for all of the drivers or for any other moving violation.

An insurance company can also raise your premium if a driver was involved in an at-fault accident causing personal injury or property damage over $1800.00. These rules do not apply if you change insurance or change coverage in which case the insurance company can raise your rates.

For more details, call Doug Portnoy at 919.875.8773