North Carolina reinforces through its heavy enforcement of traffic laws that highway safety is a priority. Not many states penalize drivers with jail time or imprisonment for simple driving offenses, like speeding, for example. However, through the application of North Carolina's broad reckless driving law, motorists who are caught speeding or committing other seemingly minuscule traffic offenses, could potentially be subject to criminal penalties involving jail time, costly fines, and the loss of driving privileges if convicted.
For the purposes of this article, we will explore North Carolina's reckless driving law and the penalties you may be facing if you are convicted of this crime.
North Carolina's Reckless Driving Law
Under North Carolina statutes, you can be convicted of reckless driving if a prosecutor can prove that you did any of the following:
- Drove carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others
- Drove 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
Essentially, motorists are expected to drive in a reasonably safe manner at all times.
Common Behaviors that Lead to Reckless Driving Charges
This is a relatively broad law, as there are no details that mention specific speed limits or examples of what driving behaviors could constitute as reckless or careless. However, based on previous convictions for this crime, there are specific behaviors that are generally classified as “heedless” or careless” in North Carolina. These behaviors include:
- Speeding at 25 mph or more over the posted speed limit
- Swerving in and out of lanes
- Failing to stop at a stop sign
- Running a red light
- Illegal passing
Most of these behaviors are enough to land you a simple traffic ticket by themselves. However, if an officer notices that you have exhibited more than one of these behaviors in one setting, or at least one of these behaviors accompanies speeding, you will likely be charged with reckless driving.
It's also important to note that a judge will determine if a person's driving constitutes as “reckless” by assessing certain factors in your case. Road conditions, the state of traffic and whether or not you were distracted while operating your vehicle are some of the components that will be reviewed to dictate your innocence or guilt in these cases.
Reckless Driving Penalties
Reckless driving is classified as a class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina. This offense carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
A license suspension for reckless driving will be imposed in circumstances when a driver was going 15 mph over the speed limit, was driving at least 80 mph, or has a prior conviction that occurred within the last year.
North Carolina Defense Attorneys
Reckless driving cases are highly individualized, and unlike regular traffic offenses, you can't send in a payment to make it go away. This is why it's important that you retain a skilled defense attorney that can help you weigh the options of your case and maximize the likelihood of either reducing or completely dismissing criminal charges. The attorneys at Caulder & Valentine have extensive experiencing successfully representing clients who have been in your shoes. Contact them today for a consultation.