That is the question!
The PJC is unique to North Carolina and has risen to a mythical “cure-all” status among lay people who have received a speeding ticket in Duplin County or Sampson County.
The PJC is a valuable tool in our bag of tricks. However, there are other, sometimes better options.
What is a PJC?
PJC is short for Prayer for Judgment Continued. It works like this — a person enters a plea of guilty to a speeding charge. Upon requesting a PJC, the court “continues judgment” in the matter. A judgment is a final order in a legal case. By continuing judgment, the court is saying that a final decision will not be entered on that matter.
The immediate effect is that you won’t receive insurance or license points on your speeding case if no judgment is entered. The problem is, when it comes to traffic offenses, the court is the least of your worries. NCDMV is generally the end-all, be-all when it comes to these situations.
So, how does DMV handle your PJC? Well, it depends. If you have a spotless record, DMV will not assess insurance or license points if the court continues judgment in your case (i.e., enters a PJC). In this situation, it’s helpful to think of the PJC as a three-year probation period. So long as you are not convicted of a moving violation during this three-year period, DMV will not assess points. However, the conviction of a moving offense (with a few exceptions) during this period will “undo” the PJC, and you will be assessed insurance points for the original charge and the new moving violation.
How often can I use a PJC?
When considering a PJC, it is essential to recognize there are two different “points” systems that affect drivers. The first points group is assessed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). North Carolina law assigns specific point values to various traffic offenses. If a person exceeds a point total over a period of time, the DMV will revoke that person’s license.
The second point system is the insurance points. Again, North Carolina law provides a list of offenses and assigns specific insurance points for the commission of those offenses. In some situations, DMV points and insurance points are the same, but not always. Motor vehicle insurance rates are based in part on the number of insurance points on a policy. For each moving violation, a person is assessed points from two separate sources.
So, the answer to the question, “How often can I use a PJC?” has two answers. As far as the DMV is concerned, each licensee is entitled to two PJCs in a five-year period. For insurance purposes, each policy is entitled to one PJC in a three-year period. It is important to recognize here that for insurance purposes, an entire policy is reviewed. This is especially noteworthy for families with young drivers.
How will the PJC affect my out of state license?
As I stated earlier, the PJC is unique to North Carolina. Most likely, North Carolina will report to your home state the fact that you received a PJC on a traffic offense. To know for sure what affect the PJC will have, a person would need to contact the DMV of his home state as well as his insurance provider.
Is a PJC the best option for my situation?
It’s crucial to recognize the PJC for what it is, just one of a few tools at the lawyer’s disposal. If I had to rank the best possible outcome for a speeding charge, it would look like this.
- Dismissal: I can’t remember the last speeding charge I got dismissed. With the media of today in constant search of a story to overdramatize, District Attorneys simply don’t dismiss speeding tickets.
- Improper Equipment (IE): IE is a tool that can be utilized in some jurisdictions. With court dockets growing to unmanageable sizes, District Attorneys have looked for a “win-win” manner of quickly disposing of cases. The IE is that solution. It works like this. The DA, upon receipt of the proper paperwork from your attorney, will reduce the speeding charge to an equipment violation. Equipment violations are non-moving violations, so they don’t carry insurance or DMV points. In exchange, you agree to pay a fine and the cost of court. Thus, the state gets its money and moves the case quickly through the system, and you get your case resolved without incurring points. Each District Attorney sets his/her own parameters for what circumstances qualify for a reduction to IE. Some DA’s don’t allow the IE. There is no statutory limitation on the number of IEs a person can use, but most DAs place their restrictions on how often it can be utilized.
- PJC (see explanation above).
- Speed Reduction: In some cases, for people not prone to receive speeding tickets, simply reducing the speed and paying the fine will prevent points. I rarely resolve cases in this manner because it can result in trouble down the road.
A PJC has its place.
I borrowed this narrative from a colleague of mine, Mario White, and it makes a valid point. On one side of the street, there is a barbershop with a sign advertising $5 haircuts. On the other side of the road is a barbershop with a sign advertising $20 haircuts. And below that sign is the phrase “I specialize in fixing $5 haircuts”.
Resolving speeding cases is more of an art than a science, that comes with skill and experience. Each case is different, and each driving record is unique. An attorney needs to have a good understanding of the impact of certain convictions and should be able to read a driving record and assess what is best for each particular case. These skills are not taught in law school as its only possible to “master” them through years of practice. This is not stated to promote us and what we do, but rather to highlight the complexity of dealing with these issues so that you, the client, can understand the importance of hiring an experienced attorney so as not to dig yourself into a hole.
Cutting hair is not complicated but go to an inexperienced barber, and you’ll likely spend a great deal more undoing his mess. The same point is valid with your traffic attorney. Don’t just hire the person who can get “the cheapest PJC.” As this article shows, there are many other options.
Please contact Ludlum Law Firm today to discuss your Clinton, Kenansville, Warsaw, or other Duplin County or Sampson County speeding ticket.