Almost everyone who has gotten a citation for a traffic citation (“ticket”) instantly has two questions: (1) “how much is it going to cost to ‘pay the ticket’?” and (2) “how is this going to affect my license/insurance rates?” Although there is a lot of so-called “common knowledge” floating around regarding the answers to these questions, the actual answers – particularly to the questions about license and insurance implications – will likely surprise most folks.
For example, most people consider it common knowledge that keeping “points” off of one’s driving record should be their main objective when negotiating their traffic case and that their insurance rates will rise if points are assessed against them. Like most untrue things that are widely perpetuated as truth, this has hints of the truth. True, one’s insurance rates may be affected by their official driving history, but insurance companies generally do not consider points. Instead, insurance companies look at the actual offenses that are “reported” on one’s driving history. This is an important distinction for a couple of reasons. First, oftentimes one will plead “nolo” to a traffic offense, thinking that he or she has avoided license/insurance consequences by avoiding the assessment of the points that the offense carries. And, yes, pleading nolo may allow the driver to evade the license consequences, since he or she will not receive points. However, insurance companies viewing the driver’s history will still be able to see the offense and all the other information they would see with a “guilty” plea, and so the nolo plea, in that instance, would have the same effects on insurance as a guilty plea.
The second reason that the distinction between reported/non-reported offenses and points/no points offenses matters has to do with the difference in the amount of time for which each of these is relevant. In Georgia, if you are convicted of a driving offense (a “moving violation”), you will be assessed points. Unless you are under twenty-one (21) years of age or hold a commercial driver’s license, accumulation of 15 points in a two-year period is required in order for your license to be suspended. This is somewhat hard to do, but it does happen from time to time. So, time is a consideration when it comes to points.
Time, however, is not a consideration when it comes to the offenses reported on one’s history. People often ask, “how long will this stay on my driving history?”, but actually, reported offenses remain on one’s driver’s history permanently. Theoretically, an insurance company may access your driving history thirty years from now and see an offense that was reported today. Overall, then, the question of whether you are assessed points – and how many points you are assessed – only has implications for a two-year period, while the question of whether a driving offense is reported has implications for an entire lifetime.
So, with all that being said, how do you go about avoiding a sharp rise your auto insurance rates after being charged in a Georgia traffic court? Please allow the knowledgeable, experienced attorneys at Berelc Law Office, P.C., to intercede on your behalf and negotiate a solution that minimizes the impact of your life going forward. While many believe that hiring an attorney to “fight” a ticket is unnecessary when that they can “just pay it off” for several hundred dollars, this is “penny wise, pound foolish” thinking. True, you may be able to pay the fine amount itself for only a few hundred dollars. But, after you do and your driving offense is recorded on your history, the more major expenses will be following close behind, in the form of increased insurance rates that may follow you for the rest of your life.
Our attorneys will aggressively advocate on your behalf, and we will do everything that we can to have your charges modified, reduced or even dismissed, to preserve your driving record and save you money in the long term. We are here to navigate you through the complex – and often confusing – process of being charged with a traffic offense in the State of Georgia. We are intimately familiar with the court systems – including the law enforcement officials, prosecutors, clerks of court, and other court officials – in courts throughout all areas of Northeast Georgia. We would be happy to assist you through the very stressful process of addressing your situation. Please call us today at (706) 356-0518 to set up a free consultation.