I dare to say that at some point in time, we have all been pulled over for a traffic violation. No matter how hard you try, if you drive on a regular basis, it’s going to happen to you. Sooner or later we are all going to see the blue lights in our rearview mirror.

While cooperating with the officer and having a good attitude may get you a warning, more likely than not you are going to end up with a ticket for a moving violation. Speeding, running a red light or traffic sign, following too closely and failing to yield are just a few of the possibilities you could face.

And the punishment you receive from the traffic court can be just as varied, usually depending on your driving record. You may end up with anything from a small fine to community service to driver’s retraining classes. Or, quite possibly the harshest punishment of all, a suspension of your driver’s license.

While no one wants any of these penalties, the worst may still be yet to come: a permanent rise in your insurance rates. Is there any way to avoid this? Yes, the answer is to find a way to avoid a conviction on the charges. While some courts and prosecutors allow creative sentences that involve charitable contributions and community service to avoid conviction on your record, if your charge is in Rhode Island, the best option is to take advantage of “The Good Driving Statute.”

Rhode Island General Law has a provision that basically allows you to have many moving violations dismissed if you have had a clean driving record for the prior three years. If you can demonstrate to the court that you have had no other moving violations (other than parking tickets) for the last three years, you will be eligible to have your current charge thrown out, with only the court cost of $60 to pay. By not having a conviction against you, your insurance company will never know about your charge and you will not face raised rates. The catch is you cannot use the Good Driving Statute for another three years.

While using this statute can be a big help, there are, of course, a number of exceptions. You cannot use the Good Driving Statute in the following situations:

Your speeding ticket is higher than 14 miles per hour above the speed limit;

You are charged with DUI or refusal to submit to a breathalizer test;

Your charge involves a school bus;

There was an accident involving personal injury or property damage;

Your charge involves children not wearing their seat belts.

In practically every other circumstance, your moving violation may be dismissed upon your pleading the Good Driving Statute. At court, the judge will have your Rhode Island driving record but you will still be asked to sign an affidavit swearing you have been clean for the prior three years. And, if you live outside Rhode Island but you were charged here, you need to bring a copy of your driving abstract from your home state’s DMV to prove your good record.

If all of these conditions are met, you can consider your moving violation charge dismissed and you will be on your way without a conviction on your record and without your car insurance rates going up.

Marc Page is an attorney with a general law practice in Downtown Westerly. Licensed to practice in Rhode Island and Connecticut, he can be reached at 401-596-1726.

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