Reckless Driving

Reckless Driving in North Carolina

One of the most commonly charged traffic offenses in North Carolina is Reckless driving. If you are facing reckless driving charges in North Carolina, you need to act fast.

In North Carolina, the North Carolina General Statutes, particularly § 20-140, define the offense of Reckless Driving. Under these traffic laws, reckless driving involves:

Largely, reckless driving may include any other type of dangerous behavior on the road. Forms of reckless driving may include:

  • Excessive speeding
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Driving illegally on the road-shoulder
  • Blowing through stop signs, yield signs or traffic lights
  • Aggressive tailgating

Is reckless driving a criminal offense?

Reckless driving in North Carolina is a criminal offense. Additionally, reckless driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor. This means a conviction for reckless driving will impact your criminal record. Driving recklessly is both a criminal offense and a traffic matter. It is important that you contact a North Carolina traffic attorney to know more about your reckless driving charge.

What speeds are considered reckless driving?

Driving at excessive speed in North Carolina may amount to the offense of reckless driving. This includes driving at speeds up to or over the following:

  • Driving speed more than 15 mph over the speed limit while driving at a speed greater than 55 mph; or
  • Driving speed greater than 80 mph.

It is totally within the officer's discretion as to whether they will charge you with reckless driving in addition to speeding. For example, it is unlikely that a person who is allegedly speeding 85 mph in a 65 mph speed zone will face reckless driving charges. In the alternative, it is highly likely that a person driving 95 mph in a 70 mph zone will be charged with reckless driving. Additionally, many people who are charged with driving while impaired in North Carolina will also be charged with reckless driving.

Consequences of a reckless driving conviction

Reckless driving in North Carolina will attract a wide range of criminal penalties. These include the prospect of jail time and fines. In addition, several administrative penalties are usually imposed upon conviction. These penalties include:

  • DMV Points: In addition a conviction will garner four license points. Generally, DMV points (or license points) assessed against a driver convicted of moving violations in North Carolina include:
    • Aggressive Driving - 5 NC DMV License Points
    • Reckless Driving in NC - 4 North Carolina DMV License Points
  • Insurance Points: A conviction for reckless driving carries 4 insurance points. Four insurance points is an 80% increase.
  • Fines: A judge can require you to pay a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Suspension of license: The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) may also suspend your license for a period up to 12 months, with reinstatement fees and surcharge costs. If you are under the age of 21 at the time of the offense, your license may also automatically be suspended.
  • Jail time: A reckless driving conviction may also lead to incarceration of up to 60 days. Factors that may lead to jail time include repeat offenses, location (for example, near schools, construction zones, or residential neighborhoods). Lastly, another factor is whether other drivers were put in danger.

Defending against a reckless driving charge in North Carolina

Clearly, driving recklessly in North Carolina involves significant consequences. However, a skilled attorney in both criminal law and reckless driving cases, can likely avoid some or all consequences with reckless driving. Sometimes it is necessary to negotiate a plea agreement. Typically, skilled negotiations result in decreased fines and license points.

Depending on the nature of your case, you may be able to have a limited driving privilege based on a case-specific basis during the suspension period. A reckless driving charge is in fact quite complex to navigate. Without a lawyer well acquainted with the county you recieved your citation, you may end up failing to explore all of your options.

Contact a skilled traffic lawyer in North Carolina

Stowe Law Firm, PLLC operates out of Salisbury, NC, and surrounding counties. We have experience representing people who have reckless driving charges. Ryan Stowe is an experienced and thoroughly understands the traffic laws and defenses that may be asserted in your case. If you are facing reckless driving charges, we need to act fast to prevent a license suspension and an insurance increase. Contact us here to set up a free initial consultation. You may also send us an email at or call 704-856-9502 to get in touch with us.

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Ryan Stowe is the principal attorney at Stowe Law Firm, PLLC. Mr. Stowe is proud to be practicing in his hometown of Salisbury, NC, and is a first generation Rowan County attorney. Mr. Stowe takes pride in being a criminal defense attorney. He focuse…

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