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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
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Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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I have been corresponding with one attorney I found on Avvo

Customer Question

I have been corresponding with one attorney I found on Avvo from my home state of N.C. But I'm requesting a few more legal opinions.
Last year, I was involved in a traffic accident. I was attempting to make a left turn. I saw the motorcycle ( who had the right of way ) coming. I honestly thought he was traveling slower than he actually was. Right as I made the left turn, the motorcycle crashed into my passenger side. The couple on the motorcycle sustained injuries. Not life threatening. But fairly serious.
I was charged with an unsafe movement. My court case has been postponed several times. Every time I go to court, the DA asks me how much cash I've brought with me. The DA tells me that the maximum she can ask for is a $740 penalty. And that's what she's going to ask for, the maximum. Previously, I haven't been able to gather that much money at one time. I am disabled and only draw disability. The DA actually said to me, " pawn something ". Plus, I was informed by the DA that because the couple on the motorcycle sustained serious injuries ,that I would not be " allowed " the option of court appointed representation. Twice, when I have appeared in court, I have shown the DA a letter from my auto insurance company stating the claim had been settled. But the DA keeps telling me that my insurance company paid out the maximum I was covered for. But that my maximum comes nowhere near the amount of medical bills the injured couple has incurred and are continuing to incur.
So, next week, I will appear in court hopefully my final time. I have gathered the $740 that the DA told me to prepare for. And she also says I could be facing a temporary license suspension. I feel absolutely horrible that people were hurt. And I realize the accident was my fault. But the $740 is killing me financially. And as far as the possible license suspension, I live in a very rural area with three children who depend on me for transportation. Not to mention, myself being disabled, I have ongoing medical appointments. I do not know what I would do without my license.
Could I use a Prayer For Judgement with this case?
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 4 months ago.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for using our forum. My name is ***** ***** I hope to assist you today.

I am sorry to learn about this traffic matter.

It is important to keep in mind that when there is a traffic collision, there are two separate possible proceedings:

  1. The civil court proceeding - in which the injured parties sue the at fault party for money damages to compensate them for their injuries (this is the part that your insurance carrier is dealing with)
  2. The criminal court/traffic court proceeding - in which you can be fined, and your driving privileges can be limited, suspended, or revoked. (In even more severe cases this can even include jail time - but that isn't what we are talking about in your case).

In the criminal court case you describe, the DA is negotiating with you (apparently you have not been before a judge), the DA is demanding a fine payable in the amount of $740.00 as a penalty for the traffic violation (this is not compensation for the injured party, although the amount may be set to reflect the extent of their injuries).

The reason you are not being offered an attorney is likely because you are not being threatened with jail time. (The state is required to pay for an attorney if you are facing incarceration, not if you are forced to pay a fine, or if your driver's license is at risk). If you want to double check, contact your County Public Defender's Office and ask them to review your file to see if you qualify for representation.

The judge is the one that sets the final penalty (fine/suspension/etc.). You do not have to plead guilty, and you can force the state to put on a trial if you like.

Do expect points to be awarded against your license and a corresponding increase in your insurance (this chart is helpful - I believe it is current, but a more recent one may be out: http://www.ncdoi.com/_Publications/It%20Pays%20to%20Be%20a%20Safe%20Driver%20Insurance%20Points_CAU1.pdf)

Drivers who accumulate 12 or more points in any 3 year period will have their license suspended.

Do ask if you are eligible for Driver's Safety School (Driver's Clinic) as this can significantly reduce the points on your license and your insurance costs (it does cost more money (I understand this is an issue, but it can also save you money in the future)).

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