In the course of our legal practice, the attorneys at iTicket.law receive a lot of questions about the risks and benefits of reducing a speeding ticket to 9 mph over the limit. Such an outcome is often considered one of the best reductions available in North Carolina, but is a reduction to 9 mph over the limit really a magical cure-all for North Carolina auto insurance woes or is it actually a risky proposition for your North Carolina speeding ticket? The answer, like most things in the law, is that "it depends."
North Carolina Speeding Ticket Reductions
Speeding ticket reductions to 9mph over the limit are one of the most widely misunderstood legal reductions in North Carolina. In fact, many attorneys don’t even really understand the intricacies of this often used reduction. Generally speaking, an attorney would choose to pursue a reduction of a speeding charge to 9 mph over the limit because of the benefits this reduction has to a driver's license and insurance premium. Specifically, under certain circumstances, by having a higher level speeding charge reduced to 9 mph over the limit (say, 54 mph in a 45 mph zone) it increases the chance that there will be no impact to your North Carolina auto insurance premium. Additionally, such a reduction would also reduce a speeding citation down to an infraction level offense, which means no criminal record or license suspension. Talk about a great outcome! That said there are a handful of exceptions that are very important to keep in mind which we will discuss at the end of each section below.
Protect Your License
As anyone who drives regularly would tell you, it is incredibly easy to accidentally hit 81 mph when driving in a 65 mph zone. Surprisingly to most people however, any conviction in North Carolina of speeding over 80 mph or over 15 mph over the limit in a speed zone of 55 mph or higher would result in a misdemeanor appearing on your criminal record and a suspension of your North Carolina drivers license. In this scenario, a negotiated reduction to just 9 mph over the limit would reduce the speeding conviction to an infraction-level offense, resulting in no misdemeanor conviction. Additionally, there would be no suspension of your driving privilege. A conviction of 9 mph over the limit in North Carolina would result in 2 license points if the convicted speed is less than 55 mph and 3 license points if it's more than 55 mph. These license points will be removed from your record after 3 years. While the infraction-level conviction does add license points, it should not impact your insurance if certain criteria are met (see below). Please note: you cannot have two convictions of "9over" in speed limits of 55mph or higher in a 6 month period, or you'll be suspended.
Protect Your Insurance
According to the NC Department of Insurance, insurance companies must forgive a North Carolina speeding ticket of less than 10mph over the limit if you have no active license points. This could lead to significant savings. In the scenario above, being convicted of speeding just 81 mph in a 75 mph zone would increase your family's auto insurance premium by 80% by adding 4 insurance points. The important key in determining whether you should seek a reduction of your speeding ticket to 9 mph over the limit is the question of whether you qualify for insurance forgiveness. This is why having a North Carolina attorney who is very experienced in North Carolina traffic law is vital. To take advantage of this forgiveness, no one on your insurance policy can have had a forgiven at-fault accident in the past three years. In short, your insurance company will grant you one mulligan or freebie every 3 years. So, if you've already used a 9over reduction, or if your policy has a forgiven at-fault accident, then you can't use a second mulligan. Lastly, it preserves your Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC) for future use.
With regards to court costs and fines, many times they end up being similar to the amount listed on your traffic citation (between $210-$250), but can sometimes end up being more depending on the presiding judge or negotiations with the District Attorney.