How Does North Carolina Define Reckless Driving

For drivers in North Carolina, a simple mistake, such as speeding through a red light or failing to yield, can lead to criminal misdemeanor charges rather than an ordinary traffic ticket. According to state laws, reckless driving encompasses a surprising variety of moving violations. Because the law is so broad, many law-abiding drivers are hit with an unpleasant and unfair surprise after a momentary lapse in judgment.

Reckless Driving Laws in North Carolina

Reckless driving isn’t a fixed list of common traffic infractions. It describes the way that someone operates a vehicle. North Carolina General Statutes § 20-140 states that a person who drives “carelessly and heedlessly” with “disregard of the rights or safety of others” is guilty of reckless driving. The person must also be driving “without due caution” and “at a speed or in a manner” that endangers a person or property.

Examples of Reckless Driving

You might not think twice about sneaking through the last sliver of a yellow light or rolling through that stop sign at the end of your street, but these blunders can get you into trouble. Here are a few examples of reckless driving.

• Failing to stop at a red light or stop sign
• Failing to yield the right-of-way
• Ignoring school bus signals
• Endangering pedestrians
• Passing illegally
• Failing to signal
• Tailgating
• Street racing
• Weaving through traffic
• Crossing double solid lines
• Traveling with too many occupants
• Speeding 25 mph over the limit or more
• Operating a car with mechanical problems
• Driving without a view of oncoming traffic

Although many common driver behaviors could be reckless, the biggest problem occurs when multiple violations happen simultaneously, such as passing illegally while speeding. This could lead to harsher penalties and escalated aggressive driving charges.

Penalties for Reckless Driving in North Carolina

Reckless driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor that’s punishable by fines and imprisonment. The following penalties apply for first-time violations.

• A maximum fine of $1,000
• A maximum jail sentence of 60 days
• Suspension of driving privileges if you were speeding
• A minimum of 4 DMV and insurance points
• A misdemeanor criminal record
• Increased insurance rates

If you’ve been charged with reckless driving, contact an experienced traffic law attorney in North Carolina. A lawyer can answer your questions, assess your case and develop a defense that can help to minimize any penalties.