What is Considered Reckless Driving in North Carolina?
January 20th, 2022
Unlike many other states, reckless driving in North Carolina is a criminal charge. Specifically, it is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, suspension of your driver’s license, and points on your driving record.
North Carolina’s reckless driving statute states that:
- Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public area carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others shall be guilty of reckless driving.
- Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property shall be guilty of reckless driving.
Common violations that can lead to a reckless driving charge include:
- Running a red light or a stop sign
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Aggressive or careless lane changes
- Following too closely (tailgating)
- Illegal passing
- Street racing
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Excessive speed
Because the consequences of this type of conviction are surprisingly severe, it is critical that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible to defend yourself.
North Carolina criminal defense attorney Ryan Stowe has extensive experience defending people accused of traffic offenses, including reckless driving. He understands North Carolina traffic laws and knows the defenses that can be raised to minimize the severity of a reckless driving charge and reduce the likelihood of a license suspension, increase in insurance rates, and conviction.
Law Enforcement Has Wide Discretion to Charge You with Reckless Driving
“Carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others” orLaw enforcement agents in North Carolina have wide discretion when it comes to deciding whether to issue a simple speeding ticket or to charge you with reckless driving. You do not need to be driving erratically to be charged with reckless driving in North Carolina, you can be charged if you are driving:
- “Without due caution and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property”
For example, people are commonly charged with reckless driving if they are traveling more than 15 mph over the posted speed limit when the speed limit is less than 55 mph or driving at speeds greater than 80 mph. In addition, the threshold decreases as the speed limit increases. Thus, while it is unlikely that you will be charged with reckless driving for driving at 85 mph in a 65 mph zone, you are more likely to be charged for driving 95 mph in a 70 mph zone.
You Need to Appear in Court, Even If You Live Out-of-State
Unlike a simple traffic ticket, which is a waivable offense, you will be required to appear in court if you have been charged. Many traffic tickets, like a simple speeding ticket or a ticket for running a stop sign, are waivable offenses. This means you can pay the fine before your court date and avoid the need to appear in court.
This is not the case with reckless driving charges. If you have been charged, you must attend the scheduled court hearing, even if you intend to plead guilty. Failure to appear can result in additional fines and penalties, and the judge could even issue a warrant for your arrest.
This makes reckless driving charges particularly difficult for out-of-state drivers. In addition, North Carolina is a member of the Driver’s License Compact. It will share information about driver’s license suspension and traffic violations for non-residents. This means that the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles will report your driver’s license suspension to your home state, and your home state could treat the charge and conviction as if it had occurred in your home state.
Fortunately, you may be able to avoid the need to appear in person by working with an experienced reckless driving defense attorney like Ryan Stowe. Mr. Stowe may be able to attend the hearing on your behalf and eliminate the need for you to be present.
Defending Against Charges of Reckless Driving in North Carolina
If you have been charged with reckless driving in North Carolina and want to increase the likelihood of beating the charge, it is critical that you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Based in Salisbury, North Carolina, criminal defense attorney Ryan Stowe has extensive experience defending people who have been accused of traffic offenses. In many cases, the best strategy to defend against a charge of reckless driving is to try to have the charges dropped or reduced to a civil penalty. Agreeing to a civil penalty will eliminate the problem of having a criminal record and reduce the costs of fines, fees, and increases to your insurance rates.
We invite you to learn more about North Carolina criminal defense attorney Ryan Stowe and his criminal defense team, to read reviews from other people we’ve helped, and to contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help.
Categories: Traffic Violations