Modern glass office building
*For more information on membership standards and criterion for his inclusion please click here.

Reckless Driving North Carolina: What is Reckless Driving NC?

By: Bill Powers, North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney, Charlotte NC

All states have enacted motor vehicle laws to regulate how drivers can lawfully drive upon their highways. In North Carolina, these are called "rules of the road." When the rules are not followed, this can lead to traffic violations being issued by a police officer. The reason for this being a crime is that the rights or safety of others are put at jeopardy by a driver engaging in acts of reckless driving in NC.

badges

Like most other jurisdictions, our state's reckless driving law is a misdemeanor, and (under NC laws) is categorized as a Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense. A reckless driving charge can also be a predicate offense that will support a felony indictment, under N.C.G.S.A. § 14-32 assault with deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflicting serious injury, when serious bodily injury or death is caused by reckless driving in NC.

Reckless Driving Definition

Felony vs MisdemeanorUnder the NC rules of the road, reckless driving NC is defined as follows:

N.C.G.S.A. § 20-140

(a) Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others shall be guilty of reckless driving.

(b) Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area 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 shall be guilty of reckless driving.

(f) A person is guilty of the Class 2 misdemeanor of reckless driving if the person drives a commercial motor vehicle carrying a load that is subject to the permit requirements of G.S. 20-119 upon a highway or any public vehicular area either:

(1) Carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others; or

(2) 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.

What Types of Driving Conduct Supports a Reckless Driving Charge in NC?

A. Under subsection (a), by operating any vehicle carelessly and heedlessly, and in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others, can be found guilty of reckless driving.

B. Under subsection (b), covers the type of reckless driving in NC most likely to be charged, using a police officer's discretion after he or she sees dangerous driving. This is called driving 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.

C. Under North Carolina laws, if you are speeding at greater than 15 m.p.h. over the posted speed limit, and traveling at more than 55 m.p.h., then you may be charged by law enforcement with reckless driving NC.

D. Plus, merely driving at a speed over 80 m.p.h. can be charged as reckless driving in NC.

E. The final type of reckless driving North Carolina pertains to commercial motor vehicles carrying oversize or overweight loads. A driver who operates such a vehicle carelessly and heedlessly, in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others, or 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 commits the offense of a North Carolina reckless driving class 2 misdemeanor.

Significantly, because these descriptions of driving conduct can overlap, if a driver violates the laws as set forth under both Part A and B, above, only one NC reckless driving offense is thereby committed, not two separate offenses.

Reckless Driving Penalties in North Carolina

Under North Carolina law, high speed alone on a highway or vehicular area can support a reckless driving conviction. State v. Coffey, 189 N.C. 382 (2008). Plus, depending on the driver's driving record for prior serious driving offenses (traffic violations), he or she can be subjected to a fine of up to $1000, plus can be subjected to community punishment, intermediate punishment or active jail time punishment for reckless driving North Carolina, under N.C.G.S.A. § 15A-1340.23. In addition, reckless driving NC causes suspension of a persons driving privileges in North Carolina.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
My daughter had a second DUI and when it all seemed hopeless, Bill was able to get the charges dropped. This is a man who is extremely knowledgeable, yet still keeps his integrity which was impressive to me. He handles himself with dignity. If you hire him, you will have the best of the best, along with his expansive intellect and wisdom about the law. Please don’t feel hopeless, when you can hire such a great attorney to be on your side.
★★★★★
Bill Powers’ staff has handled several traffic citations for me over the years, and they exceeded my expectations each and every time. Would highly recommend anyone faced with a traffic citation or court case contact his office and they will handle it from there. M.C.
★★★★★
I utilized Bill Powers and his firm after my DUI infraction in December 2011. During my initial consultation he immediately made me feel at ease with his knowledge of the law and his confidence in moving forward. Not to mention a great personality. He filled me in on all the ramifications and the process as a whole. I am a realist, and did not expect miracles. But Bill is stickler for procedure and that is what you need in a crises such as this. It took a good year, and the results were more than I could ever anticipate or hope for. I would have paid more had I known the results ahead of time. If you find yourself in a similar situation, trust me, he is your go to lawyer. J SJ