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What is Considered Reckless Driving in North Carolina?

By Randall & Stump excels in criminal defense, serving clients in Charlotte, NC & other surrounding cities.
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Category Car Accidents
Wednesday, April 3, 2024

reckless driving

Even cautious drivers can make a life-changing mistake behind the wheel. However, reckless driving charges are among the most serious traffic offenses you could face in North Carolina.

Reckless driving charges don’t have to derail your life. Call our Charlotte criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation.

When Can You Be Charged with Reckless Driving?

North Carolina Statute § 20‑140 states reckless driving involves:

  • 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
  • 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

With such a broad definition, the police have wide discretion to stop drivers and charge them with reckless driving.

Common Examples of Reckless Driving

There are many forms of reckless driving, such as:

  • Running a red light
  • Running a stop sign
  • Speeding
  • Aggressive and careless lane changes
  • Tailgating (following the car in front too closely)
  • Illegal passing
  • Street or highway racing
  • Failing to yield right of way when lawfully required

Reckless driving in NC is not just a moving violation. It is a crime, and if you are not careful about how you react to a reckless driving violation, you could pay a steep price.

You’ll Have to Appear in Court if Charged

Some traffic violations, such as speeding, are “waivable offenses” which don’t require a court appearance if the fine is paid before the hearing. However, reckless driving is not a waivable offense, so you’ll have to appear at your scheduled hearing. This applies even if you don’t live in North Carolina.

For this reason, drivers from out-of-state are in a difficult situation if charged with reckless driving. Failing to appear in court can lead to additional fines and a warrant for arrest.

Potential Consequences of a Reckless Driving Conviction

Reckless driving in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, and throughout North Carolina is a Class 2 misdemeanor. This means:

  • The maximum penalty for your first reckless driving offense is a $1,000 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
  • If you are a repeat offender or there were contributing factors, you could pay more and spend up to 60 days in jail.
  • Under certain conditions, you could have your license suspended or revoked.

We understand how important it is for you to maintain your driving privileges and that insurance is more expensive after a reckless driving charge. It is your right to have a strong legal advocate to protect and defend you.

Aggravating Factors in a Reckless Driving Case

A judge considers several factors when determining your sentence, including:

  • If your reckless driving caused an accident or if it forced others to take evasive action.
  • If there were weather conditions that made your careless driving even more hazardous.
  • If there is evidence that you were using your phone at the time.
  • If you are driving at excessive speeds (15 mph or more over the speed limit).
  • If you were driving recklessly while also under the influence of drugs or alcohol. (contact our Charlotte DWI lawyers if you were charged with a DWI)

The court does not look favorably on reckless drivers. You should also know that a reckless driving conviction in Mecklenburg County and the surrounding areas will add four points to your license. The more points you have on your driving record, the higher your insurance premiums.

Reckless Driving Could Cost You Your License

Speeding – driving faster than the speed limit or driving too fast for weather, road, or traffic conditions – is a major factor in a reckless driving case. You could lose your license if drive extremely fast, such as:

  • Speeds of more than 55 miles per hour, and over 15 miles per hour faster than the speed limit
  • Speeds of more than 80 miles per hour
  • You have at least one prior conviction in the last 12 months

Reckless driving charges are more than a ticket. They have the potential to disrupt your whole life when you consider how much you rely on your car to drive to work, school, pick up your kids, get groceries, and almost every other daily activity.

Call Us to Fight Your Reckless Driving Charges

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Defenses against Reckless Driving Charges in North Carolina

If you’re facing a conviction for reckless driving, you have options to get the charges reduced or dismissed. Your criminal defense attorney will choose the best defense strategy to fit the unique circumstances of your case. Such defenses could include:

  • Challenging the evidence against you if it is weak or insufficient
  • Proving procedural errors or violations of your rights during the traffic stop or arrest
  • Demonstrating lack of intent showing you weren’t willfully or wantonly disregarding the safety of others

Charged with Reckless Driving? Call Randall & Stump Today

We know that sometimes an otherwise good driver can make a mistake. We also understand how frighteningly easy it is to be entangled in the criminal justice system over a momentary lapse in judgement. It is your right to seek a vigorous defense to help you avoid criminal prosecution, points on your license, or having your license suspended or revoked.

If you’ve been charged with reckless driving in Charlotte, North Carolina, contact Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys to discuss your case. Get a free initial consultation today. Call (980) 237-4579 or use our online contact form.

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