When Speeding is a Crime in North Carolina

by | Sep 9, 2019 | Blog Posts, NC Criminal Defense, NC Traffic

For some reason when people meet criminal defense attorneys, they like to say something to the effect of “well, I’m sure I’ll never need you.”  What they forget is that most people get a speeding ticket at some point in their lives. What many don’t know is that speeding can be a criminal matter.  We are not referring to reckless driving, driving without a license or even passing a stopped school bus, which are all misdemeanors. Simply speeding can be a crime as well.

How can speeding be a crime? In this blog, we will talk about that. Like all of our blogs, this blog is intended for general informational purposes only, and not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a traffic attorney or a criminal defense attorney.

Statutory authority for speeding law

In North Carolina, speeding is covered under North Carolina General Statute 20-141. This statute gives the police a wide range of authority for citing people for speeding, and it is more wide ranging than people realize.  It does not just cover the driving in excess of the posted speed, but also states, “No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway or in a public vehicular area at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.” This means that weather conditions, traffic, and other factors also have an effect on whether you will be cited.

Additionally, this statute has two criminal provisions for speeding, which read as follows:

  1. “A person who drives a vehicle on a highway at a speed that is either more than 15 miles per hour more than the speed limit established by law for the highway where the offense occurred or over 80 miles per hour is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.”
  2. “A person is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor 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 at a speed of 15 miles per hour or more above either: (1) The posted speed; or (2)  The restricted speed, if any, of the permit, or if no permit was obtained, the speed that would be applicable to the load if a permit had been obtained.”

Consequences of a criminal speeding ticket

Once the speeding ticket is treated as criminal it follows the North Carolina misdemeanor sentencing guidelines.  Simply admitting guilt and paying the tickets of that severity relieves the states of their burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  Further, all of the other consequences of that ticket, such as driver’s license suspension will be enforced.

If you have gotten a traffic ticket you may want to contact a lawyer.  Contact us, if you need a lawyer for a traffic citation in North Carolina.

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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