A client came to me the other day and asked me to deal with a speeding ticket she had received in Raleigh NC. She said she’d been to another attorney but wasn’t really thrilled with his price (I hear this a lot). She showed me the ticket; 54 mph in a 45 mph zone. I asked her how much he was going to charge her and she replied, $250 plus costs and fines. A couple more questions and I was even more incensed. Clean record. Good license. She said she just didn’t have the money and asked if I could do it for $150. Well, I said, I COULD do it, but then so could she…on her own. Here’s the deal:
The NC Safe Driver Incentive Plan of 1957
North Carolina in 1957 promulgated the SDIP (Safe Driver Incentive Plan). Bottom line is that since car insurance companies can (and do) jack our rates way up if we commit any moving violation, it would really work a hardship on the good people of the State if they had to deal with increased insurance premiums for each and every little violation. To combat this, with a little bit of legislative intervention, the SDIP, in 1957 was born.
What Does the SDIP Do?
The gist of the SDIP act is as follows: Assume a speeding ticket. Provided the driver has a clean driving record (clean meaning no convictions) looking back three years from the date the speeding ticket is to be adjudicated in court (NOT three years back from the date the ticket is issued) if the ticket is a simple speeding ticket (not in a school zone, not racing another car, not passing a school bus, just a simple speeding ticket), and the speed is not more than 10 mph over the posted limit AND is not greater than 75 mph, NO insurance surcharge points will be assigned for that violation. You get one of these “forgivenesses” every three years, if needed.
I tell my clients to think of it as a “one bite at the apple” kind of deal. Basically, everyone is allowed a small transgression every three years without having to suffer huge insurance consequences. Bravo North Carolina! Like the insurance companies need to make more money anyway!
Back to our client: I told her a little about the SDIP and how her ticket, for 54/45 was squarely within the parameters of the SDIP insurance points-forgiveness deal.
At 54/45 the officer put down a mandatory $50 fine and mandatory court costs of $188. Total: $238. Given that the speed was already in the range of the SDIP’s “forgiveness”, other than the arduous job of walking to the courthouse and standing up to talk to the judge for about two seconds, there was really no work for the attorney to do here and DAMN sure not anything to charge $250 for.
So I told her to pay it (online so that she wouldn’t have to even step foot in the courthouse), and to be careful driving from now on.
The Bottom Line
In North Carolina, this is what it means: one simple speeding ticket every three years, not over 10 mph over the posted speeding limit, less than 75 mph speed, equals no insurance surcharge points.
Want to read more about the NC SDIP ? Click the button below and we’ll provide you with the NC Department of Insurance’s “Consumer Guide to Insurance Points”, an easy-to-read brochure that explains insurance points in North Carolina, including the SDIP.
If I can get a 68 in a 45 reduced to “9 mph over” and my record is clear do I get free bite?
Dave: Thanks for your question. In NC, the SDIP says one ticket every 3 years for not more than 10 over the limit on a clean record and there will be no insurance increase. By custom we lawyers like a comfort margin so we always seek a reduction from the DA to 9 over or less (I advise anyone to do likewise). 68/45 reduced to 54/45 will do the trick certainly (assuming, as I say, that you’re clean going back 3 years from the date you dispose the new ticket in court). You’ll see some license points but no associated insurance points for this one ticket. Note that this doesn’t count if you are found guilty of or plead to speeding in a school zone; that’ll screw you up big time. This is NC only, BTW. Not sure other states. Hope that helps, Terence McEnally Attorney & Founder BernieSez.com
I’m a resident of NC, but got a 54/30 in TN. If I could get it to 9 over, would this still work under the “free pass”
My daughter was involved in an accident and the car she was driving was on my insurance. The trooper told her that she would not have any charges once my insurance paid for the other parties claim, all her charges would be dropped. My insurance added 3 points to my policy. I have a clean record and so does she. The property damages were around $18,000 and physical damage hasn’t been settled but they already added the max 3pts to my policy. Is there any way I can get out of this? Thank you!
Thanks for your question.
In NC, generally the DA will toss any lesser car accident charges if you can present him with an “insurance letter” in which your carrier says at least property damages have beens settled.
Simply present that letter to the DA on your court date.
As for insurance surcharges, that is a matter between you and your insurance company.
While having the traffic case dropped will prevent your insurance from going even higher still, the insurance points are independent of traffic convictions and are purely between you and the insurance company.
You might try the NC DOI’s consumer services.
Seems to me you used to be able to get a hearing there and perhaps get the surcharge reduced or eliminated altogether.