You might remember that speeding ticket you got last summer on your way to Disney World. You apologized profusely to the officer and explained how you were just so excited about the idea of waiting in lines in the balmy Florida sunshine that you couldn't contain yourself. The officer was kind enough to understand your excitement and told you that you may want to keep the speed down for everyone's safety. With those words of concern the officer then promptly handed you a ticket for 80 in a 55 mile per hour zone and suggested that since you are from North Carolina you can just pay the fine shown there on the ticket and you can avoid having to make a return trip back to the Sunshine State to appear in court. Sounds easy enough, right? In the event you get a ticket such as this, you may want to resist the urge to pay it off and invest a little money in hiring an attorney. Sure, you are thinking, why do I want to pay an attorney when the officer said I won't have to appear in court and everything will be taken care of? As far as Florida or any other state you may be traveling through is concerned it may be that simple, but you might be surprised to learn that old tickets don't always die easily.

Pursuant to Chapter 20 Section 16 of the North Carolina General Statutes the Division of Motor Vehicles has the authority to suspend your license with or without a preliminary hearing for a number of reasons including convictions for various degrees of speeding, fraudulent use of your driver's license, alcohol related charges and several other violations of this statute. This seems pretty logical and even predictable to most of us but what may come as a surprise is found in one of those "other" violations I referred to. Probably the most unfamiliar reason to the average citizen the Division of Motor Vehicles can exercise its authority to suspend your license is found in N.C.G.S. 20-16(a)(7), which states that the DMV has the authority to suspend your license if you "committed an offense in another state, which if committed in this State would be grounds for suspension or revocation."

When you voluntarily pay a speeding ticket off in lieu of appearing in court to contest the matter, you are pleading guilty to the charges set forth in the ticket. What this means is the ticket you paid off where you were charged with driving 80 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone can come back to haunt you once the North Carolina DMV gets wind of it. You may receive a letter from the DMV informing you that your driving privilege has been scheduled for suspension in accordance with a particular provision of the General Statutes. Fortunately, you will also be informed that you have the right to request a hearing and retain your license pending the outcome of that hearing. At that point, you may want to consult an attorney about your case or risk being sidelined from the highway for six to twelve months.

Ashley Lamm is an attorney in the Charlotte office of Knox Law Center. The firm's website is www.knoxlawcenter.com. He can be reached at 704-315-2363 or 866-704-9059 (Toll free) or alamm@knoxlawcenter.com.

(Written By C. Ashley Lamm)