Traffic violation and felony usually aren’t even two words we expect to see in the same sentence. Getting a traffic violation means having a cop write you a ticket for speeding or receiving a citation in the mail for running a red light.
Felony? That just seems crazy.
However, North Carolina has several traffic laws on the books that can result in felony criminal charges if you violate them. In this post, we’re going to break down the laws and penalties for you, and let you know what you can do to fight back against those types of charges.
Felony Serious Injury by Vehicle
In other words, if you’re driving drunk or high and your actions cause someone to get seriously hurt, it’s a crime – not just a crime, a Class F felony.
Aggravated Felony Serious Injury by Vehicle
A person can violate this law if he or she causes serious injury to another person during impaired driving, the offense proximately caused the serious injury, and the person has a conviction for impaired driving within seven years of the offense date.
So, basically, the above situation except that you have a previous record of impair driving in the not-too-distant past. This is a Class E felony.
Felony Death by Vehicle
A person can violate this law if he or she unintentionally causes the death of another person during impaired driving, and the offense proximately caused death.
In this scenario you drove drunk or high and your actions led to someone dying. This is a Class D felony.
Aggravated Felony Death by Vehicle
A person can violate this law if he or she unintentionally causes the death of another person during impaired driving, the offense proximately caused death, and the person has a conviction for impaired driving within seven years of the offense date.
Not only did you drive impaired and cause someone to die, you have a previous record of driving impaired within the last seven years. This, too, is a Class D felony.
Repeat Felony Death by Vehicle
A person can violate this law if he or she was previously convicted of felony death by vehicle or aggravated felony death by vehicle.
Pretty understandable why someone who has already been convicted of killing someone while driving drunk and then does it again would be hit with a felony. Specifically, this crime is charged as a Class B2 felony.
Failure to Stop in Event of a Crash
If the driver of a vehicle knows or reasonably should know that the vehicle he or she is driving is involved in a crash, and the crash has resulted in bodily injury or death to any person, he or she is required to stop the vehicle at the crash scene. The driver is required to stay with the vehicle at the crash scene until a law enforcement officer grants permission to leave or completes his or her investigation. The only reasonable reason to leave the crash scene is if the act of staying puts the driver or others at a significant injury risk.
The driver is not allowed to agree to, allow, or facilitate the removal of his or her vehicle from the scene, unless he or she is calling for help from law enforcement officers or emergency responders. If the vehicle is lawfully removed from the scene, it must be returned to the scene in a reasonable time period.
Any willful violation of this law is a Class F felony for serious bodily injury or death. It is a Class H felony if bodily injury occurred.
Habitual Impaired Driving
A person can violate this law if he or she drives while impaired and has been previously convicted of three or more impaired driving offenses within 10 years of the offense date.
Finally, we’re past the felony traffic crimes that involve injury or death. This one reaches the felony level because it speaks to the actions of a person who the state believes is continually putting themselves and others at great risk by driving while intoxicated.
This is a Class F felony with a minimum active prison sentencing term of no less than 12 months. This sentence cannot be suspended, and will run consecutively to any other sentence being served.
Upon conviction, the person’s driver’s license will be permanently revoked. Additionally, the person’s vehicle may be subject to forfeiture under certain conditions set forth by the court.
How You Can Fight Back against Felony Traffic Violations in North Carolina
If you have been accused of any of the violations listed above, your best chance at a positive outcome is to work with an experienced North Carolina criminal attorney who understands how these types of cases work and what you’re up against.
Felony traffic charges come with serious penalties, such as long prison sentences and the loss of myriad other rights. A felony conviction can affect every aspect of your life in negative ways, including relationships, jobs, housing, credit, your right to bear arms, and your right to vote. You need the help of a knowledgeable lawyer to protect your rights.