Reckless Driving in North Carolina

by | Dec 12, 2019 | Blog Posts, NC Traffic

Reckless driving is a criminal offense in North Carolina. It is a Class 2 misdemeanor and is governed by N.C.G.S. 20-140. This blog discusses reckless driving in North Carolina.

This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a traffic lawyer / criminal defense lawyer.

What is reckless driving?

A person can be charged with reckless driving for driving a vehicle on a public street or highway:

  1. “carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others”
  2. 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.”

Speeding that results in reckless driving

Most reckless driving charges occur as a result of the driver’s speed. Typically, diving 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit is considered reckless driving. However, at higher rates of speed, a person may be charged with reckless driving even if they are not going 15 or more miles over the posted speed limit. Note that typically when a person is charged with reckless driving based upon their speed, that person is also charged with speeding.

What are some examples of reckless driving?

As we have mentioned, most people charged with reckless driving are charged with reckless based upon their speed. However, as the statute is extremely broad, there are a very wide variety of situations in which a person may find themselves charged with reckless driving in North Carolina. We have seen a variety of facts that have given rise to reckless driving charges, including but not limited to:

  • Driving at a high speed
  • Doing doughnuts
  • Swerving in and out of traffic
  • Peeling out
  • Almost hitting a pedestrian
  • Causing a traffic accident because of bad driving

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in North Carolina

Most people do not realize that reckless driving is not only a traffic violation, it is a misdemeanor, which makes it a criminal offense. Reckless driving is punished as a Class 2 misdemeanor, which means that a person can face a maximum of 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Upon conviction of reckless driving, a person would be said to have a criminal record. A reckless driving conviction would also count as a prior conviction for misdemeanor sentencing purposes.

As a side note, many other traffic offenses are also criminal misdemeanors. For more information, check out our blogs “Traffic Crimes in North Carolina” and “When Speeding is a Crime.”

Can reckless driving charges be reduced?

Yes, reckless driving charges can often be reduced. In some situations, reckless driving charges can even be dismissed. Every case is unique, and every county is different – you should speak with a traffic lawyer if you are charged with reckless driving.

If you are charged with reckless driving or another traffic offense in North Carolina, contact us to discuss your options.

DISCLAIMER – This forum is intended for general questions and comments about the particular law or topic. Comments are public and are not protected by confidentiality or attorney-client privilege; therefore, they can be used against you in court. Please refrain from revealing your identify or specifics about any actual criminal case. No attorney-client relationship is created in this forum.

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