Traffic Law

Capital to Coast NC Law Group fights to protect your rights in court to ensure that you are treated fairly and justly. Our experienced traffic lawyers can assist you in all types of traffic citation issues, including defending charges such as:


North Carolina has two types of speeding laws, a “basic speeding law” and “absolute limits”. Basic speeding law prohibits driving “at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing”, meaning that motorists must always drive at a safe speed, and what a safe speed is, depending on the circumstances.

In contrast, absolute speed limits are fixed. If you drive faster than the allotted speed limit, you have violated the law. Details include:

  • 35 miles per hour inside municipal corporate limits
  • 55 miles per hour outside municipal corporate limits for all vehicles except school buses
  • 70 miles per hour on interstate highways
Penalties for a speeding ticket include paying a fine, plus court costs. Fines and court costs vary by county, but usually range between $150-$300, depending on the amount by which the driver exceeded the speed limit. Depending on the circumstances, a speeding violation can also add points to the motorist’s driving record.

Running a Stop Sign or Red Light

Running a stop sign or red light is governed by 20-158 of the North Carolina General Statutes. If a driver wishes to make a right turn at a red light, they are permitted to do so, as long as they come to a full and complete stop first. Regarding stop signs, failing to come to a complete stop before proceeding through, can result in a ticket being issued.

Fines and court costs associated with running a stop sign or a red light can cost up to $225.00. A conviction is considered a moving violation and will apply 3 points to your license.

Passing an Emergency Vehicle

North Carolina General Statute §20-157 states that when an emergency vehicle, including an ambulance, fire engine, rescue squad emergency vehicle, or law enforcement is responding to an emergency, the nearby drivers heading in the same direction or obstructing that vehicle must stop and give the right of way. In general, drivers are required to stop until the emergency vehicle is no longer obstructed by the driver, or until they have been directed by law enforcement that they are clear to resume normal driving.

Unlawful passing of an emergency vehicle can be a Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanor, depending on whether the driver causes property damage in excess of $500. It can become a felony if the driver causes bodily injury to an officer or emergency personnel.

Move Over Law

North Carolina General Statute §20-157 requires drivers to “move over” or slow down for law enforcement or any other public service vehicle, such as an ambulance working within 12 feet of the side of the road with its indicator lights on.

Violating the “move over law” is punishable by a $250 fine plus court costs. Violating the “move over law” and damaging property or causing injury doubles the fine to $500 and is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Violating the “move over law” and causing serious injury or death is a Class 1 felony. You can also have your license suspended for up to six months.

Speeding in a School Zone

Throughout North Carolina, the speed limit is 35 miles per hour inside a municipal corporate limit, however, these speed limits are lower when they are in areas located near schools and are generally 25 mph, but can vary. These are known as school zones. There are requirements that must be met for lower speed limits in order to be effective in school zones. These come in the form of signs to give notice of the school zone, display the authorized speed limit, list the days and hours when the speed limit is effective, and/or an electronic flasher with a time clock indicating that the school zone speed limit is in effect

Being convicted of speeding in a school zone comes with a range of consequences. Three points will be applied to your driver’s license, as well as to your insurance points, increasing your premiums. There is also a $250 penalty.

Driving While Impaired (DWI)

In North Carolina, if you are found to be driving while impaired (DWI), the police officers use your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to determine whether you are too intoxicated to operate the motor vehicle. Penalties are affected by factors such as age, license type, and other circumstances such as having other passengers in the vehicle or in the event that a death occurs.

Common DWI penalties include:

  • Fines and surcharges
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Community service
  • Imprisonment (even for a 1st offense)
  • DWI education and intervention programs
  • Higher insurance rates, depending on your provider
The expungement process varies greatly and is a complicated matter, regardless of the charge. The experienced and knowledgeable lawyers at Capital to Coast NC Law Group can help you explore your expungement options.

Careless and Reckless Driving

Reckless driving in North Carolina is treated as both a crime and traffic violation, which carries the potential for insurance and DMV points. NCGS 20-140 defines reckless driving as “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…”, which means that the law requires motorists to drive in a reasonably safe manner at all times. Depending on the circumstances, a speeding violation can lead to a reckless driving conviction.

A standard first offense is a class 2 misdemeanor and carries up to 60 days in jail and a maximum of $1,000 in fines. All reckless driving violations will add four points to the motorist’s driving record, and will likely increase their insurance rates.

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Received a speeding ticket while passing through NC.

Was required to personally show in court or hire legal representation. Living 10 hours away, I opted for the latter. Great decision, but hiring them to represent me was a better one. They resolved my case much better than I could have ever hoped. Courteous, professional and obviously capable. – G, Out of State Traffic Violation Client

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If you are in need of representation, you want a knowledgeable lawyer on your side. To learn more about how Capital to Coast NC Law Group can defend you in traffic or misdemeanor criminal matters, contact our firm today.

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