Traffic Crimes in North Carolina

by | Jan 14, 2019 | Blog Posts, NC Criminal Defense, NC Traffic

Traffic Crimes in NC – The criminal defense lawyers at Gilles Law go to social events,meet people, and go to gatherings just like everyone else.  What would seem out of the ordinary for most people, however, is the following exchange that we have regularly:

New acquaintance: “So, what do you do for a living?”

Attorney: “I’m a criminal defense attorney, here is my card.”

New acquaintance: “Well, I don’t think I’ll ever need you.”

Attorney: “Everyone gets a traffic ticket sometimes.”

People are absolutely shocked by this because they never put a traffic citation in the same category as a crime.  In this blog, we will explain why sometimes that is in fact the case. After reading this, you will realize that there are several traffic citations that rise to the level of a crime.

Like all of our blogs, this is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from a criminal defense lawyer. 

Infractions vs. Crimes

Some traffic tickets are simple infractions punishable by just a fine and some points on your license and insurance.  Others,however, are in fact crimes and are punishable as misdemeanors in North Carolina. 

As a consequence, there are several people out there who think they don’t have a criminal record when in fact they do. Traffic crimes, like any other crimes, follow the standard that you are innocent until proven guilty, however, people fail to realize that simply paying the fine is an admission of guilt and, therefore,ends the matter.

Common criminal traffic offenses

Reckless Driving

  • North Carolina General Statute 20-140 states that “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.”
  • This is punished as a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Driving while license revoked

  • North Carolina General Statute 20-28 covers driving while license is revoked.
  • This is typically a Class 3 misdemeanor, however if the licensed was revoked because of a DWIit becomes a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Aggressive driving

  • North Carolina General Statute 20-141.6 spells out the criteria for what constitutes aggressive driving.
  • This is punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Passing a stopped school bus

  • North Carolina General Statute 20-217 makes it illegal to pass a stopped school bus.
  • This is typically a Class 1 misdemeanor but becomes a Class I felony if someone was struck by the vehicle,and a Class H felony if someone was killed as a result of being struck by the vehicle.
  • This would be governed by the North Carolina Felony Sentencing Guidelines.


  • North Carolina General Statute 20-141.3,covers racing on public streets.
  • In general, racing is punished as a Class 2 misdemeanor, however, if the racing was pre-arranged, it becomes a Class 1 misdemeanor.

*Other traffic offense that are criminal can include but are not limited to the following:

Hit and Run

This is generally a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Failure to yield to an emergency vehicle

This is generally a Class 2 misdemeanor.

If you have received a traffic citation in Mecklenburg County or the surrounding areas, contact us. At Gilles Law, we handle traffic matters as well as criminal defense.

traffic crimes

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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