You might not think much of forgetting to wear your seat belt or forgetting to renew your license plate, but these are both example of traffic violations in North Carolina. When you violate state traffic laws, you commit a criminal offense.
That said, many traffic violations are considered to be minor offenses, and are penalized by fines and added points to your license and insurance record. However, even minor traffic offenses can lead to serious penalties if you are charged with multiple infractions over a certain period of time. In addition, some types of traffic violations are considered to be serious crimes, and can be punished by license suspension or revocation, jail time, huge fines, and a lifelong criminal record.
We’ve outline some of the most serious types of North Carolina traffic violations below.
Driving while intoxicated. In North Carolina, it is a crime to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than .08 if you are 21 or older. For commercial drivers, the legal blood alcohol content level is .04, while minors cannot have any amount of alcohol in their system when driving. If you are found driving over the legal limit, you can be charged with a DWI and may face penalties such as jail time, hefty fines, and license suspension. After your second and third offenses, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. This highly obtrusive device requires you to breathe into it before starting your vehicle, and will keep the engine from starting if your BAC is over the legal limit.
Speeding. North Carolina law prohibits drivers from driving a vehicle at a speed that exceeds what is reasonable and prudent given the current conditions. That means you can be charged with speeding if you are driving 45 miles per hour in a 40 mile zone if you cannot prove certain conditions forced you to exceed the speed limit to avoid serious damage or harm to yourself and other drivers. If you are found in violation of exceeding the speed limit, you can be penalized with license suspension for a year, up to $1,000 in fines, and jail time of up to 60 days. A speeding violation can also add four points to your license and cause your insurance rates to go up.
Reckless driving. Under North Carolina law, the crime of reckless driving involves driving “carelessly or heedlessly in a willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others,” or driving without appropriate caution and at a speed or in a way that could endanger other people and property. You can be charged with reckless driving for going 15 miles per hour over the speed limit if the speed limit is less than 55 miles per hour. In North Carolina, reckless driving is considered to be a class 2 misdemeanor and punishable by up to 60 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. A conviction for reckless driving may also add four points to your driver’s license and cause your auto insurance rates to skyrocket.
Hit and run. As a driver in North Carolina, you have duty to stop after being involved in an auto accident. When stopped, you are responsible for providing other parties involved with reasonable assistance if they are injured and provide your name, number, and insurance information. However, if you fail to stop, you can be charged with a hit and run. The penalties for a hit and run may depend on the circumstances and severity of the accident. For a hit and run accident involving minimal damage or injury, you could be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor, and penalized with fines and up to one year in jail. Alternatively, if your hit and run accident causes death or severe injury, you can be charged with a class H felony. This type of offense is punishable by eight months of prison time and heavy fines.
If you have been charged with any type of traffic violation in North Carolina, it’s in your best interest to speak with a traffic violations attorney before paying your ticket. Even seemingly minor violations can lead to serious consequences, so it’s important to talk to an experienced attorney to determine your best plan of action.
A skilled lawyer can help you understand the charges facing you and develop a strategy to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. If it becomes necessary to take your traffic violation case to court, your attorney can defend your rights and fight to protect your freedom, finances, and driving rights.
About the Author
Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.