Understanding North Carolina’s Speeding Laws
The state of North Carolina divides the offense of speeding while driving into two categories. Violating either type of speeding law can lead to stiff penalties and even compounded charges.
Basic speeding law mandates that drivers exercise good judgment when governing the speed of their vehicle. In other words, the law forbids drivers from traveling faster than current conditions allow, regardless of the posted maximum speed limit. If the posted speed limit is 45 mph, you are safe driving up to that level in good, clear conditions. If it is especially foggy or the roads are slick, you are expected to drive significantly below that limit.
Absolute speed limits are very straightforward. They require that drivers not exceed the posted speed limit. If the limit is 45 mph, driving any faster is considered speeding and can warrant a stop and ticket. North Carolina has established several speed limit thresholds for various types of areas. The maximum speed on a state highway can be 70 mph, while areas outside of municipal corporate limits are capped at 55 mph.
Note that drivers caught speeding in construction zones and near schools will face harsher penalties, including larger fines. Punitive measures can also scale with the severity of the speeding. In general, the faster the traveling, the more you get fined. Excessive speeding can also result in a reckless driving charge.
How Traffic Tickets Can Impact Your Ability to Drive
You should always attempt to fight every ticket you receive, even if the fine is small and offense nonserious. Remember, when you pay a fine, you are admitting guilt to a crime. That admission prompts the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to place “points” on your license.
Each time you receive and pay a ticket, you get points on your driving record. The number of points you receive depends on the severity of the offense. Infractions like littering will only net you 1 point, but fairly common behaviors like tailgating, illegal passing, and failure to yield to a pedestrian can set you back 4 points each.
Accruing too many points over too short of a time can lead to the suspension of your license. This means that simply getting pulled over for speeding or running a stop sign a few too many times can result in your temporarily losing the ability to drive.
North Carolina license suspensions occur under the following conditions:
- If your license has never been suspended and you accrue 7 points in 3 years, you will receive a warning letter. This will require you to take a driver safety course that will eliminate 3 points on your record.
- If your license has never been suspended and you accrue 12 points in 3 years, your license will be suspended for a maximum of 60 days. After the license has been restored, all existing points will be removed from your record.
- If you have been suspended within the last 3 years and accrue 4 points, you will again receive a warning and mandate to complete a driver safety cost. This will remove 3 points from your record.
- If you have been suspended within the last 3 years and accrue 8 points, you face a second suspension of up to 6 months.
- If you have been suspended twice and accrue another 8 points following the reinstatement of your license, you face a suspension for up to 1 year.
Losing your license for an extended period can represent a burden to both you and your family. It may also imperil your employment if your job requires a valid driver’s license.
How We Can Help You Fight Tickets
Practically every type of traffic ticket can be fought in court, including “waivable” minor offenses that would not otherwise require appearing at a hearing. To avoid accumulating points on your driving record, it is always in your best interest to fight a ticket. Note that points will not be assigned to your license until you either pay the fine associated with the ticket (thereby admitting guilt) or until the matter is resolved in court. When you prevail in a dispute, you will not be responsible for paying the fine and will have no points assigned to your record.
In many situations, simply contesting the ticket will result in your case being dismissed. Most hearings require the officer who issued the ticket to either submit testimony of the incident or appear in court. Should they fail to do so, the charges will typically be dismissed.
Our Charlotte traffic ticket lawyers at Oakhurst Legal Group can help you fight tickets and maintain a clean driving record. We are familiar with how traffic cases are decided in North Carolina and can work to efficiently cut through state bureaucracy designed to frustrate you.