Pay Traffic Tickets On-Line And Bankruptcy

11 Aug Pay Traffic Tickets On-Line And Bankruptcy

North Carolina has implemented a “pay your traffic ticket on-line.” While this is not exactly related to bankruptcy, there is a connection.

For debtors in a chapter 13 case, the case can lastup to five years. That is five years of making sure that you budget your money and carefully consider non-recurring expenses like . . . car insurance. If you can keep your car insurance expenses down, you will do much better and that can sometimes mean the difference between successfully completing your chapter 13 case or having your case dismissed.

We all know that life “happens” and it is going to happen while your chapter 13 case is pending. One of those aggravating nuisances is getting a traffic ticket.

No one wants to go to court and waste all day and no one wants to hire a lawyer to handle the matter for them. So, in an effort to be helpful, North Carolina has implemented a “pay your traffic ticket on-line.” This sounds wonderful but there are some drawbacks.

If you pay your ticket on-line, you are admitting your responsibility to the charged traffic offense. Most times, traffic citations are written for speeds in excess of ten miles per hour over the posted speed. If you plead responsible to this charged offense, you will receive an insurance surcharge–an increase in your car insurance. However, if you go to court and negotiate with the District Attorney or hire a lawyer to do this for you, most likely you can get the charge reduced so that you do not incur an insurance surcharge.

So how is this related to bankruptcy? As stated above, particularly for chapter 13 cases that last for several years, watching where your money goes is important. It may seem to be a prudent, cost-effective measure just to pay your ticket on-line instead of paying the extra money for a lawyer or taking a day off from work to deal with the matter. But, an insurance surcharge can last up to three years and amount to several hundred dollars more than if you had paid a lawyer to handle the matter for you.

With tight budgets, every dollar counts and paying your traffic ticket on-line may be penny wise but pound foolish.

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Adrian Lapas, Esq.

I've been practicing bankruptcy law in North Carolina since 1993, and am certified as a specialist in consumer bankruptcy law by the North Carolina State Bar.
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