What the Heck is a "PJC?" Lets Talk about Traffic Law...

What the Heck is a PJC? ... I don’t know, but I want one.

A PJC, Prayer for Judgment Continued, is one of the most useful, but also one of the most misunderstood, tools when it comes to resolving a traffic infraction.  A lot of folks think a PJC makes your traffic ticket magically disappear.  Not really.  Receiving a PJC actually means that your are guilty of the offense, but the judge has basically agreed to withhold the punishment, or “continue judgment.”

DMV Points vs. Insurance Points

In order to understand a PJC you first need to know about the two different point systems that affect both your ability to keep your drivers license and how much you pay in insurance. Like golf, the lower the number of points you have the better.  First there are DMV points. These points go on your driving record.  If you get more than 12 points in 3 years, the NC DMV will suspend your license.  For example, passing a stopped school bus will cost you 5 points. The other point system is insurance points.  Your insurance carrier keeps track of these points and they affect how much you pay for insurance. For example, passing the same school bus will cost you 4 insurance points.

The Benefit of the PJC:

PJCs are great because if you receive one, neither your insurance or DMV points will increase. Additionally, you don’t have to pay the fine associated with the traffic violation.  You might think that the availability of PJCs makes a traffic attorney’s job very easy... not so much.

Ground Rules of the PJC:

Traffic attorneys cannot blindly request PJCs for every client in every situation. The DMV will allow you two PJC’s in a five-year period.  If you were to exceed two PJCs in a five-year period, the third would simply not be honored.  In order to make things more complicated, insurance carriers have decided that they will honor only one PJC every 3 years.  The thing to remember here is that the insurance carrier will allow one PJC every three-year per insurance policy, regardless of the number of drivers on the policy.  

EXAMPLE: If Bubba receives a PJC, and his spouse, whom is on the same insurance policy, also receives a PJC within three years of Bubba’s, then the insurance carrier will honor neither.  This is where the misconception comes from that if you get a PJC and get another ticket, the old ticket for which the PJC was granted will “come back” and driver will have to face the consequences of both.

Silver lining:

There are still situations in which seeking a second PJC within the three-year insurance window makes sense.  The most common is when it is done to keep a drivers license from being suspended.  For example, a driver might have accumulated a large number of DMV points.  If they were to get a subsequent moving violation, then their DMV points would exceed 12 and they would lose their license.  In that situation, the attorney might request a PJC, even if the driver had an earlier PJC within the three-year window in order to keep the drivers license from being suspended.  The driver’s insurance premiums would spike, but they would still be able to drive.

PJCs are an extremely powerful tool and deciding when it is necessary to use one can be tricky. For this reason, we always suggest consulting with a traffic attorney before making the trek to the courthouse to handle a ticket yourself.