Charlotte-Mecklenburg drivers now can argue down a speeding ticket without hiring a lawyer or heading to court.
A new pilot program offered by the N.C. Courts System gives ticketed drivers the option of visiting a new online service to get a ticket reduced or to pay their fines.
Marion Warren, director of the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, says the online service offers drivers and the court system a more efficient and convenient way to handle the most common traffic offenses. Speeding accounts for almost half of North Carolina’s traffic citations – or about 400,000 tickets annually.
Here’s how it would work:
▪ If you receive a ticket, go to onlineservices.NCcourts.org at least seven days before your scheduled court date to request a speeding ticket reduction. You will receive an emailed confirmation that your request has been received and a later notification of whether the district attorney’s office has approved or denied it.
▪ To qualify, the charged speed in your ticket must be 10-19 mph over the posted limit and below 80 mph.
▪ If the district attorney’s office agrees to reduce the ticket, it will either drop the speed to 9 mph over the limit or replace the speeding ticket with one for improper equipment. Other reductions require a court appearance. You will receive an email that includes the reduced charge and the associated costs.
▪ The fines and costs of the new ticket must be paid online by midnight of the assigned court date or the offer expires.
▪ If the DA doesn’t agree to a reduction or you don’t accept the offer, you must show up in court on your assigned date.
Asheville/Bumcombe County started using the system in July. District Attorney Todd Williams said in a court system press release that the service has proven to be “a fast and easy way” not only to request a reduction in speeding tickets, but also to pay costs and fines.
Charlotte attorney George Laughrun, however, questions whether the system will work in the driver’s best interests. The district attorney’s office does not represent drivers and can’t offer legal advice. Nor does it have the time or staffing to do the records checks necessary to determine the best strategy for minimizing a ticket’s impact on driving privileges or insurance, Laughrun says.
Court officials say they hope drivers will follow the speed limit. But for those who don’t, the new system gives everybody a break: less paperwork for courthouse clerks and prosecutors; shorter lines in courtrooms and traffic court.
Whether it proves more successful than hiring an attorney remains to be seen.