Legal Question in Traffic Law in North Carolina

I recieved what I thought was a warning for driving with incorrect address on my license over a month ago. It was actually a ticket and I didn't go to court because I didn't know I had to. Yesterday I received a letter from the dmv stating I have 20 days to resolve this "failure to appear". What do I need to do to fix this? I cannot afford to pay the charges in full all at one time because I heard there is a $200 dollar fine for not showing up in addition to the original ticket. Is there a way to get around having to go to court? And a way to be able to make weekly payments on the fines?

Asked on 6/05/13, 8:47 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Amanda Houser The Houser Law Firm, P.C.
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Sigh! You have no idea how often an experienced Traffic attorney hears that lame story and almost every time, one of two things is the case. You are either telling a little white lie or your attention span is such that you probably shouldn't be driving anyway. There is simply no way a normal person could have confused a traffic ticket with a warning ticket. Here's why: Right off the bat, the issuing officer would have explained to you that you were in fact receiving a ticket (they are trained to do this, specifically to prevent people from claiming they were confused) and what you are charged with and they most likely instructed you on where to go and how to pay the ticket. But hey, lets say the officer was busy and skipped all of that. Most everywhere in NC, if you receive a ticket, a few days later you will receive a ton of solicitation letters from attorneys which should have clued you in that your 'warning' was a bit more serious. But hey, lets say you got your ticket in a rural area and no attorneys sent you letters or they all went to the wrong address because you didn't update your license. Presuming you can read, both the pink and white versions of the ticket are designed to be as idiot proof as possible saying in big letters things like, NORTH CAROLIN UNIFORM CITATION - DEFENDANT'S COPY - YOUR COURT DATE - WHAT YOU ARE CHARGED WITH - CHARGING OFFICER INFORMATION etc.. What really happened is you got the ticket, intended to take care of it, put it somewhere and forgot about it. Happens frequently (which is why DMV gives you a little extra time to clear it up). Here's what you need to do: Sometime prior to the expiration date on your DMV letter, go get your address updated on your license, go to the clerks office and politely ask to have your case added to the court calendar, show the Assistant District Attorney your updated license, explain that you forgot about your court date - the ADA will most likely dismiss your case - problem solved. If the ADA does not offer you a dismissal, you are correct that there is a $200 FTA penalty. Or you can just hire an attorney to clear all of this up for you. One last bit of advice, if you do opt to handle this yourself, even if you really did mistake your ticket for a warning ticket - do not tell that to the ADA - they will most likely just assume you are lying.

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6/05/13, 10:09 am

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