Most everyone drives. It’s common for everyone to have a vehicle that they utilize daily. If you drive 360 days out of the year, there’s a chance you could receive a traffic citation at some point in your life. Even the most common traffic infractions can result in costly tickets, spiked insurance rates, or potentially driver’s license suspension. So… in what scenarios should I be a little extra careful?
Common Traffic Infractions: Ticket Types
The most common, speeding is an easy way to find yourself pulled over. The officer can pull you over for going one mile over the speed limit. A staple in the line up of common traffic infractions, speeding is usually easy to detect. To avoid this, be aware of the posted speed limit at all times.
If you are racing or failing to pull over, you could end up with a reckless driving ticket. Because it is prohibited in most states, reckless driving is the more severe citation of the common traffic infractions. You can avoid reckless driving by driving courteously and respecting posted traffic devices.
Distracted driving is amongst the most dangerous common traffic infractions. Talking or texting on a cell phone is prohibited in most states. Distracted driving can include other devices, not paying attention to the road, and other minor actions that can cause accidents. These citations are for the safety of you and the other drivers.
Running a Red Light
If you fail to stop at a red light or a stop sign, you are putting yourself and others in danger. Common traffic infractions are meant to ensure the safety of all on the road. Also, an officer can consider “rolling through” a stop sign or red light as running a red light. Slowing down is not a stop. You could still receive a citation for this.
Leaving the Scene
The thought of common traffic infractions usually does not include accidents. But leaving the scene after an accident could leave you in large trouble. If there was an injury in the accident, there is a responsibility of the driver to stay. Leaving the scene will be an additional citation and any reductions of charges may not happen in these cases.
No one gets in the car in the morning and says “I hope I get a ticket today”. Unfortunately, just because you don’t want a ticket, doesn’t mean you won’t get one. Mistakes happen and sometimes you’re in the perfect place for an officer to see your mistake. This is okay, as it happens to most of us at some point in our lives. If you’ve found yourself with a traffic court day that you’ve been subpoenaed to, here’s what you can expect…
Traffic Court Day: What to Expect
Just getting in to most court houses is a big deal. Some will confiscate your phones if you attempt to bring them in. Others allow them. Since phones can be a distraction and a nuisance, it might be best to leave yours in the car or at home. Make sure you arrive on time on your scheduled traffic court day.
Also, remember that you will not be the only one in court. Since the procedures for traffic court are routine, they will happen very quickly and other cases are waiting as well. Usually, you will be sworn in as a group on traffic court day.
The State Vs. You
When it’s your turn on traffic court day, the clerk will call your name. Once you hear your name, go to the witness box or the table. Since some courts are a little smaller, sometimes there’s just a table for traffic court instead of a “box”. It’s less intimidating this way. Once you’re there, follow the requests of the judge and the officers. Answer politely and respectfully. Remember not to interrupt anyone and wait for your turn to speak.
Things to Remember
It’s always important to dress the part on traffic court day. This goes for any court, really. This shows respect for the court and the judge. It’s best to take time and prepare for the day. Bring all necessary documents or evidence, and have it ready. Also keep in mind that if the issuing officer fails to show up to court, it does not necessarily mean that there judge will dismiss your case. Additionally, officers are usually trusted by the courts, so it’s best to not bad mouth them within the courtroom.
Sometimes, obtaining a lawyer for a traffic ticket means you don’t have to appear in court. Sometimes, even with a lawyer, you do have to appear. Courtroom impressions can go a long way to help or hinder your case. However, there are steps you can take to improve your chances in front of a judge.
Courtroom Impressions: What You Should (& Shouldn’t) Do
What You Should Do:
Being respectful is a simple way to give good first courtroom impressions. Before it is your turn, you should pay attention to other cases. It’s not a good sign if the judge is bothered by your behavior before it’s your turn. Remain quiet and patient while waiting for your case to be heard.
Turn Off Your Phone
Some courthouses do not even allow phones past security. For those that do, make sure your phone is off before entering the courtroom. You can ensure good courtroom impressions by not distracting the judge or others with a ringing cellphone during court proceedings.
Dress to Impress
For some it may be obvious to wear proper clothes to court. However, some might not think about it. In addition to the “look good, feel good” mantra that many abide by, dressing in a business casual manner shows you care about the courtroom impressions you make.
What You Shouldn’t Do:
Argue with an Officer
If you have an issue with the behavior of the officer who gave the ticket, do not go in looking for an argument. Arguing can be disrespectful to the officer, the judge, and the court in general. In addition to being respectful, leave the arguing to another day. Courtroom impressions make all the difference when hoping for a reduction.
Ask to Leave
When going to court, you should be prepared to be there for a while. Asking how long it will take or when you can leave will give the judge and other bad courtroom impressions of you. This will make it harder for a dismissal or lessened ticket.
Sounds simple, but chewing gum can be a giant distraction in the courtroom. For some it might be a nervous habit. Leave the gum out of it and earn the positive courtroom impressions you deserve.
Sharing the road can be increasingly frustrating when the drivers around you aren’t driving like they should. Maybe they’re swerving, tailgating, or driving fifteen under the speed limit. For whatever reason, you’re experiencing road rage. There are plenty of road rage causes that are common amongst drivers. While you want to be able to stay calm, cool, and collected behind the wheel— that’s not always a small task.
Road Rage Causes: What’s Making Me Angry?
The Last Parking Space
One of the most common road rage causes comes from fighting over parking spaces. Whether you’re shopping at the mall, or making your way through the parking deck, spots can be hard to come by in busy areas. Therefore, when there’s only a few spots, some people will be willing to fight for it— literally. So, try to avoid these parking lot confrontations before they turn into a brawl, or a passive aggressive honking match.
Furthermore, if someone was at the spot before you, let them have it. Parking can be stressful. Try and make it easier by finding lesser known parking areas, leaving earlier, or generally just finding your calm when you know that it’s going to be difficult. There are plenty of road rage causes, so let’s look for solutions along the way.
The Infamous Cut Off
Being cut off is one of the more common, and frustrating, road rage causes. Nothing can be quite as irritating as someone jumping in front of you without a real purpose. Not only is it upsetting, but it’s dangerous as well. In most cases, you may need to slam on the brakes or swerve to avoid hitting them. In this instant, you might begin to throw your hands up, yell obscenities, or try and retaliate in some form or fashion. We’re here to say: don’t. It’s not uncommon for you to lose focus, or driving abilities, when you’re trying to make a point. While what the driver did is infuriating, what’s even worse is getting into an accident afterwards.
The Box Out
Not allowing someone to pass will most likely cause anger. In some cases, the driver may need to move over to make a turn or get to an exit. Or, in other situations, maybe the driver’s around them just aren’t fully observing the speed limit, or road rules. Therefore, the boxed in driver might be looking for a way out. We all know that this is frustrating, and absolutely one of those road rage causes we’ve been talking about. So, make sure you’re not doing this to others. Pay attention to drivers around you, make sense of what they’re trying to do, and allow them to pass when safety allows.
The Excessive Honk
Honking too often, or for too long, is also one of those common road rage causes. We’ve all been there– the driver up ahead isn’t paying attention to the light or they cut you off. You blow your horn once but then lay on it again to really send the message. While this might make you feel better, it can cause them to become angry and retaliate in some way. So, try to use your horn for defensive driving only. Use it when you need to make a driver aware of you. But do so sparingly to avoid unnecessary confrontation.
If you live in North or South Carolina, chances are you’ve heard of reckless driving before. Maybe you have a friends who has a charge of reckless driving, maybe you have, or you’ve just heard it on the news. No matter your relationship to the term, it’s important that drivers understand what this charge is, and how to avoid it.
Reckless Driving in NC: Understanding the Law
In North Carolina, there is a statute for reckless driving. Under the statute, reckless driving charges can be made when… (in words that are easier to understand):
- Someone driving on a highway, or ‘public vehicular area’ (PVA) with disregard and a lack of care towards the rights and safety of others.
- Driving in a PVA without caution, and at a speed that endangers others, or the proper of others.
If you are driving a commercial vehicle that needs permitting to be on the highway, the driver is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor in these cases:
- Driving carelessly, or in disregard of the rights and safety of others.
- Without caution, or in a manner that could endanger others or their property.
Someone may face conviction for reckless driving if they’re driving with neglect towards others, or their property. Reckless driving is typical when you’re traveling at high speed, and can often be cited like a speeding ticket. Of course, this applies to your every day passenger car drivers. But, when it comes to a commercial vehicle? The issue becomes a bit more serious. After all, your vehicle has the potential to cause a lot more damage.
A piece of terminology used in these statutes is: ‘willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others’. The court understands that not every single instance of speeding has this. In most cases, it comes down to an inquiry into the facts of the case, and whether you meet certain standards.
Finally, to avoid this type of ticket, it mostly comes down to making sure that you observe the speed limits, drive with caution, and do your part to keep the roadway safe. Most people will speed at some point in their adult life, that’s just common sense. However, reckless driving can be particularly damaging to your driving record, and the wellbeing of yourself and others.