You’d be hard-pressed to find a seasoned driver who has never gotten a traffic ticket, which is why many people don’t consider the offenses to be serious.
Most people simply pay a ticket and then move on. That said, not all traffic tickets are a walk in the park. In fact, some violations are so serious that they’re considered felonies – and paying the ticket for them is essentially admitting guilt to that offense.
Those offenses go on your record, possibly increasing your insurance and even resulting in the suspension of your driver’s license. This post includes what you need to know about traffic violations in North Carolina, including where they cross the line into felony convictions.
NC Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses
A speeding ticket can simply be an infraction of the law. When you drive without proof of insurance or get a ticket for minor speeding violations, then that is generally an infraction that results in a fine or paying court costs.
Some traffic violations are considered misdemeanors, though. Reckless driving or operating a vehicle without a license are common traffic misdemeanors that can result in jail time, for instance.
Failing to deal with your misdemeanor traffic charge can result in a warrant being put out for your arrest. If you receive a misdemeanor traffic ticket, you must check with the court to find out your court date and show up. The court may offer you options, but those will differ from county to county.
Felony Traffic Violations in NC
There are several felony traffic violations you can get in North Carolina. The most common charges include:
- Serious injury by vehicle
- Aggravated serious injury by vehicle
- Death by vehicle
- Aggravated death by vehicle
- Repeat death by vehicle
- Failure to stop after an accident
- Habitual impaired driving
Learn more about these individual offenses and what penalties you can expect for each below.
Serious Injury by Vehicle
If you are guilty of impaired driving and you seriously injure another person while doing so, then you can be charged with a Class F felony. Class F felonies are punishable in North Carolina by up to 41 months in prison.
Aggravated Serious Injury by Vehicle
Causing serious injury to someone else while you’re driving impaired and you have a prior conviction for driving impaired in the last seven years is charged as aggravated serious injury by vehicle. This is a Class E felony charge, punishable by up to 63 months in prison.
Death by Vehicle
If you unintentionally cause the death of someone else while driving impaired, then you can be charged with this Class D felony, punishable by up to 160 months in prison.
Aggravated Death by Vehicle
This is the same as death by vehicle except the perpetrator has been convicted of driving while impaired in the last seven years. It is a Class D felony, punishable by up to 160 months in prison.
Repeat Death by Vehicle
If you’ve previously been convicted of death by vehicle or aggravated death by vehicle, then you can be charged with this Class B2 felony. Class B2 felonies are punishable by up to 392 months in prison.
Failure to Stop After an Accident
You are legally required to stop after an accident has occurred in your vehicle as long as you were reasonably aware the accident occurred or the accident resulted in the injury or death of another person. If you fail to stay with your vehicle until the police arrive, then you are committing failure to stop after an accident. This is a Class F felony, punishable by up to 41 months in prison.
Habitual Impaired Driving
If you’ve been convicted three or more times in the last 10 years of impaired driving, then you can be charged with this Class F felony, punishable by up to 41 months in prison. The court can require the defendant to pay a fine if they are convicted as well. The amount required is left to the discretion of the court.
Should You Simply Pay That NC Ticket?
If you get charged with a misdemeanor traffic violation and want to avoid court by simply paying the ticket and associated costs, then you can do that. It is important, however, to recognize that in North Carolina, paying a ticket is considered an admission of guilt.
That means that by paying the ticket you are waiving your right to challenge the ticket in front of a judge and that you accept points against your driving record that can ultimately end up in the suspension of your driver’s license.
Even though most people assume traffic violations aren’t serious, they certainly can be. That’s why if you ever have questions, you should talk to an experienced attorney for answers.
Remember, not challenging a traffic violation can result in issues such as suspension of your license or an increase in car insurance rates, so you shouldn’t simply accept it if you believe you have grounds to fight the charge.