Getting caught with a traffic violation is usually just a pain in the butt. If you get pulled over, you probably just expect a ticket and a more stressful commute to work. And who knows? There’s always the chance you might be able to talk your way out of it.
But not all offenses can be solved so easily. You may be surprised to know some traffic offenses can land you in criminal court – and certain ones may even get you jail time.
What are they? How do they work?
Failing to Appear in Court. After you are issued a ticket, you have the right to appear in court and argue your case. However, most minor traffic offenses are considered “waivable offenses,” which means you have the option to waive your right to appear in court. When you receive a ticket, the ticket should have all of the information relevant to your court date and the fees you can pay for waivable offenses.
There are some traffic offenses, however, that require an appearance in court. This court date is mandatory, and failing to appear can be charged as a criminal offense. If the issue is not handled within 60 days, your license may be revoked and you can face additional fees.
If you cannot make your court date, it is important to call the county in which you were issued the ticket so that you may reschedule your court date.
A full list of waivable traffic offenses can be found here. A full list of traffic offenses that require a mandatory appearance in court can be found here.
Reckless Driving. If your driving is considered especially dangerous or harmful, you could be charged with reckless driving and end up in criminal court.
North Carolina defines reckless driving in two ways: “carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others” and “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.”
These are pretty vague terms, but while many instances of reckless driving are hard to argue (DUI, vehicular manslaughter, and so on), this is a common charge in traffic court. It is important to consult with an attorney who has a history of winning reckless driving cases to understand how you were charged and what you can do to get your case dropped.
Reckless driving is classified as a Class 2 misdemeanor. This means if you are found guilty of reckless driving, you could face up to 60 days in jail, fines of up to $1,000. The charge may also result in your driver’s license being suspended for a year, with 4 points on your license after it is renewed.
Speeding. This one is tricky, because most of the time it is not a criminal offense. However, there are some situations in which speeding can be deemed reckless driving. Here are the guidelines for speeding and reckless driving in our state:
- If you are driving in a 55 mph zone: if you are caught driving over 70 mph, it is considered reckless driving.
- If you are driving in a 65 mph zone: if you are caught driving over 75 mph, it is considered reckless driving.
- If you are driving in a 70 mph zone: if you are caught driving over 75 mph, it is considered reckless driving.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, it is important to contact experienced North Carolina criminal traffic attorneys immediately to review your case and begin crafting a strong defense.
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.