Common Questions and Helpful Answers About NC Criminal and DWI Charges

It is natural to have many questions and concerns when charged with a crime in North Carolina. These charges can have serious consequences and long-lasting effects on those charged with their families, so they need reliable answers quickly. Here, Todd Browning and Howard Long share their answers to many of these tough questions. Find out their thoughts on DWI, traffic charges, and many other crimes.

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  • How do police decide who to stop for drunk driving in Charlotte?

    Police officers in Mecklenburg County and North Carolina Highway Patrol are trained to look for numerous visual clues and driver behavior patterns when deciding whether to make an investigative stop of a drunk driving suspect. These visual clues, identified by a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study on impaired drivers, help officers determine if there is enough reasonable suspicion to justify pulling you over for DWI.

    Outside of DUI checkpoints, police must have reasonable suspicion to legally stop you for drunk driving. 

    How Police Determine Reasonable Suspicion for a DWI Stop

    The visual clues identified by the NHTSA fall into one of the following four categories:

    1. Problems Maintaining Proper Lane Position
    2. Speeding and Braking Problems
    3. Vigilance Problems
    4. Judgment Problems

    Visual clues used to identify Problems Maintaining Proper Lane Position include:

    • Weaving within a lane
    • Weaving across lane lines
    • Straddling a lane line
    • Swerving
    • Turning with a wide radius
    • Drifting
    • Almost striking a vehicle or other object

    Visual clues used to identify Speeding and Braking Problems include:

    • Stopping problems (too far, too short, too jerky)
    • Accelerating or decelerating for no apparent reason
    • Varying speed
    • Slow speed (10+ mph under limit)

    Visual clues used to identify Vigilance Problems include:

    • Driving in opposing lanes or wrong way on one way
    • Slow response to traffic signals
    • Slow or failure to respond to officer’s signals
    • Stopping in lane for no apparent reason
    • Driving without headlights at night
    • Failure to signal or signal inconsistent with action

    Visual clues used to identify Judgment Problems include:

    • Following too closely
    • Improper or unsafe lane change
    • Illegal or improper turn (too fast, jerky, sharp)
    • Driving on other than designated roadway
    • Stopping inappropriately in response to officer
    • Inappropriate or unusual behavior (throwing up, arguing)
    • Appearing to be impaired

    If an officer observed you exhibiting any of these behaviors, he may be legally justified in stopping you for drunk driving, but not always. For example, if you make an illegal turn, you have likely violated the law and an officer is likely justified in stopping you on that fact alone. On the other hand, if you were weaving within your own lane only, an officer is not likely going to be justified in stopping you. When a DWI stop is based on the driver weaving within a lane, North Carolina law generally requires weaving within a lane plus some other fact in order for an officer to make a stop.

    Find Out if Your Charlotte DWI Could be Dropped

    If an officer did not have a legal justification for pulling you over, it may be possible to have your drunk driving charge dismissed based on that lack of reasonable suspicion. If you have been arrested for DWI in the Charlotte metro area, contact a Mecklenburg County DWI defense attorney at Browning & Long, PLLC for a free consultation to evaluate your case and assist in making this determination.

     

  • Will my NC driver’s license be suspended if I refuse to blow or if I'm arrested for DWI?

    It depends. There are numerous instances where your driver's license will be revoked by North Carolina’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for issues involving or related to driving under the influence. The most common scenarios where the DMV will revoke your driver’s license is when you (i) willfully refuse to submit to chemical analysis (i.e. breath or blood test), (ii) are charged with and/or arrested for driving under the influence, or (iii) are convicted of driving under the influence.

    License Suspension for Willful Refusal to Breathalyzer or Chemical Testing

    The laws of most states, including North Carolina, highly encourage a person suspected of driving under the influence to submit to chemical analysis (i.e. breath or blood test). Such laws do so through the consequences implemented when a person refuses such testing. Specifically, North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S.) 20-16.2(a)(1) informs a driving under the influence suspect that they may refuse any chemical test, but doing so will result in their driver’s license being revoked for a period of one year, and in some cases even longer.

    This often means that if you refuse a chemical test, your driver's license will be revoked for one year. It's important to know the difference between the various breath-testing instruments and the consequences of refusing to blow in these devices. For example, an alcohol screening test, often referred to as a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT), is a breath test that is typically administered roadside before you are arrested. Refusing to submit to this test is not considered a willful refusal and will not revoke your driver's license for a period of one year. Thus, an alcohol screening test is not considered a chemical test for this purpose. However, a breath test using the Intoxilyzer 5000 or Intox EC/IR II, as well as a blood draw, are considered chemical tests. If you refuse to submit to these tests, your driver's license may be revoked for a period of one year. The Intoxilyzer 500 and Intox EC/IR II are generally administered after you have been arrested and left the scene.

    License Suspension After Being Charged and/or Arrested for DWI

    Under North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S.) 20-16.5(b), a person driving under the influence is subject to civil revocation of their driver’s license if the following applies:

    1. A law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed an implied consent offense;
    2. The person is charged with an implied consent offense;
    3. The law enforcement officer and the chemical analyst comply with the procedures of G.S. 20-16.2 and G.S. 20-139.1 in requiring the person's submission to or procuring a chemical analysis; and
    4. The person
      • Willfully refuses to submit to the chemical analysis;
      • Has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within a relevant time after the driving;
      • Has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more at any relevant time after the driving of a commercial motor vehicle; or
      • Has any alcohol concentration at any relevant time after the driving and the person is under 21 years of age.

    When your driver's license is revoked under N.C.G.S. 20-16.5(b), the minimum period of revocation is either 30 or 45 days depending on when your driver’s license was surrendered. If your driver’s license is surrendered within five (5) working days of the revocation (generally the day you were charged), the minimum revocation period is 30 days. If your driver’s license is not surrendered within five (5) working days of the revocation, the minimum revocation is generally 45 days from the date you surrender your driver’s license. Additionally, if you have a pending driving under the influence charge or other implied consent offense, your driver's license will be suspended indefinitely until all pending charges are resolved.

    License Suspension After a Drunk Driving Conviction

    A conviction for driving under the influence results in a mandatory revocation of a person’s driver’s license by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) under North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S.) 20-17(a)(2). The length of such driver’s license revocation largely depends on whether you have any prior impaired driving convictions, and if so, the amount of time that has passed since those convictions.

    More information: License Revocation and Restoration After a DWI Conviction in Mecklenburg County

    Contact Our Charlotte DWI License Restoration Lawyers

    If your driver’s license has been revoked due to one of the three common scenarios discussed under this question, it is important to remember that there are often circumstances where a you may be able to legally drive with a limited driving privilege. A DWI defense attorney at Browning & Long, PLLC can assist you in getting you back on the road as soon as possible.

  • What factors will the court consider when sentencing me for a DUI conviction in Mecklenburg County?

    If you have been convicted of DUI in Mecklenburg County, the level of punishment of you will face is determined by the existence and balancing of what are called grossly aggravating factors, aggravating factors, or mitigating factors. Several of the following legal terms can be difficult to grasp, so it's always best to consult with a DWI defense attorney if you've been charged.

    Grossly Aggravating Factors for DUI Sentencing

    Grossly aggravating factors are seen as more serious than aggravating factors. The State must prove any grossly aggravating factor beyond a reasonable doubt. With that, the first step in determining the level of punishment you will face if convicted of DUI is to find out whether any grossly aggravating factors exist.

    Four grossly aggravating factors:

    1. A prior conviction for a DUI related offense (See N.C.G.S. 20-4.01(24a) for the list of offenses) if:
      • the prior conviction occurred within seven years of the current DUI offense date;
      • the prior conviction occurred after the current DUI offense date, but before or at the same time as the sentencing in the current DUI case; or
      • the prior conviction was in District Court, the conviction was appealed to Superior Court, the appeal was withdrawn or the case was remanded back to District Court, and a new sentencing hearing for the case has not been held.
    2. At the time of the current DUI offense, you drove while your driver’s license was revoked and the revocation was for a DUI revocation under N.C.G.S. 20-28.2(a).
    3. Your DUI caused serious injury to another person.
    4. At the time of the current DUI offense, you drove while:
      • A child under the age of 18 years was in the vehicle
      • A person with the mental development of a child under the age of 18 years was in the vehicle; or
      • A person with a physical disability preventing unaided exit from the vehicle was in the vehicle.

    Aggravating Factors for DUI Sentencing

    As mentioned, aggravating factors are considered less serious than grossly aggravating factors. However, like grossly aggravating factors, the State must prove any aggravating factor beyond a reasonable doubt. When there are no grossly aggravating factors, or where grossly aggravating factors exist but the judge decides to consider any aggravating and mitigating factors as well, the next step in DUI sentencing is to determine whether any aggravating factors exist.

    Nine aggravating factors:

    1. Gross impairment of your faculties while driving or an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more.
    2. Especially reckless or dangerous driving.
    3. Negligent driving that led to a reportable accident.
    4. Driving while your driver's license was revoked.
    5. Two or more prior convictions of certain motor vehicle offenses for which at least three points are assigned or which subject your driver’s license to revocation, if the convictions occurred within five years of the current offense, or one or more prior convictions of an offense involving DUI that occurred more than seven years before the current offense.
    6. Conviction under N.C.G.S. 20-141.5 of speeding to elude.
    7. Conviction under N.C.G.S. 20-141 of speeding by at least 30 miles per hour over the legal limit.
    8. Passing a stopped school bus in violation of N.C.G.S. 20-217.
    9. Any other factor that aggravates the seriousness of the offense.

    Mitigating Factors for DUI Sentencing

    After determining whether any aggravating factors exist, the next step in determining the appropriate level of punishment in DUI sentencing is to see if any mitigating factors exist. It is your burden to prove the existence of any mitigating factor by a preponderance of the evidence.

    Eight mitigating factors:

    1. Slight impairment of your faculties resulting solely from alcohol, and an alcohol concentration that did not exceed 0.09 at any relevant time after the driving.
    2. Slight impairment of your faculties, resulting solely from alcohol, with no chemical analysis having been available to the defendant.
    3. Safe and lawful driving at the time of the offense, except for the DUI.
    4. A safe driving record.
    5. Impairment caused by a lawfully prescribed drug for an existing medical condition, and the amount of the drug taken was within the prescribed dosage.
    6. Voluntary submission to a substance abuse assessment and voluntary participation in the recommended treatment.
    7. Completion of a substance abuse assessment, compliance with its recommendations, and simultaneously maintaining 60 days of continuous abstinence from alcohol consumption, as proven by a continuous alcohol monitoring system.
    8. Any other factor that mitigates the seriousness of the offense.

    DUI/DWI Sentencing Levels of Punishment

    The determination of the appropriate DWI sentencing level of punishment involves balancing the presence of any grossly aggravating factors, aggravating factors, and mitigating factors mentioned above. The chart below summarizes the six sentencing levels and the corresponding punishments authorized by N.C.G.S. 20-179.

    Aggravated Level One

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    Three or more grossly aggravating factors Up to $10,000 If suspended, must require 1-imprisonment of at least 120 days; AND 2-alcohol abstinence of at least 120 days to a maximum of the term of probation, as verified by CAM.
    Imprisonment: 12 months minimum to 36 months maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level One

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    1. Grossly aggravating factor in N.C.G.S. 20-179(c)(4); OR
    2. Two other grossly aggravating factors
    Up to $4,000 If suspended, must require 1-imprisonment of at least 30 days; OR 2-imprisonment of at least 10 days and alcohol abstinence and CAM for at least 120 days
    Imprisonment: 30 days minimum to 24 months maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level Two

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    One grossly aggravating factor Up to $2,000 If suspended, must require 1-imprisonment of at least 7 days; OR 2-alcohol abstinence and CAM for at least 90 days
    Imprisonment: 7 days minimum to 12 months maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level Three

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    Aggravating factors substantially outweigh any mitigating factors Up to $1,000 If suspended, must require one or both of the following: 1-imprisonment for at least 72 hours 2-community service for a term of at least 72 hours
    Imprisonment: 72 hours minimum to 6 months maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level Four

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    No aggravating or mitigating factors or aggravating factors are substantially counterbalanced by mitigating factors Up to $500 If suspended, must require one or both of the following: 1-imprisonment for 48 hours 2-community service for a term of 48 hours
    Imprisonment: 48 hours minimum to 120 days maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

    Level Five

    Factors Fine Probationary Conditions
    Mitigating factors substantially outweigh aggravating factors Up to $200 If suspended, must require one or both of the following:
    1-imprisonment for 24 hours
    2-community service for a term of 24 hours
    Imprisonment: 24 hours to 60 days maximum
    Substance Abuse Assessment Required: Yes

     

    Contact Our Charlotte DUI Lawyers if you have questions regarding a DWI arrest in Mecklenburg County by calling 980-224-4482.

     

  • What defenses could help me fight assault and battery charges?

    Handcuffs Next to a Judge's GavelDepending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you could be charged with assault and battery as a misdemeanor or felony in North Carolina. If convicted, you can face a jail or prison sentence, fines, and would have a permanent criminal record. However, you may have strong defenses that can help you fight the charges and reduce or eliminate the harsh consequences you face.

    Four Defenses to Assault and Battery Charges

    You can be charged with assault for threatening someone with bodily harm that puts them in reasonable fear—even if you did not touch them. To be charged with battery, there would need to be some physical touching.

    You will need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you identify and effectively raise defenses that would work in your case. Here are some common defenses that have helped people fight these charges in Charlotte:

    • Self-defense. One of the most common defenses raised in these cases is self-defense. When raising this defense, you would need to show that the victim was the attacker and you were defending yourself.
    • Defense of others. If you were defending another individual being attacked, you could raise the defense of others to fight the charges.
    • Misidentification. In some cases, a witness or the victim misidentifies the perpetrator. If this is true in your case, you could argue that the police arrested the wrong person.
    • Alibi defense. An alibi defense could be raised with a claim of misidentification if you have an alibi that can help you prove you were somewhere else at the time the assault and battery was committed.
    • Consent. If you raise this defense, you would need to prove that the victim consented to fight with you.

    Were you charged with assault and battery in Mecklenburg County? Our knowledgeable criminal defense team can identify the defenses that could work in your case and will fight aggressively to achieve the best possible outcome for your situation. To learn about how we have defended other clients facing similar charges and how we can assist you, call our Charlotte office to schedule a free case evaluation today.

     

  • What happens if I miss my traffic court hearing scheduled for my traffic ticket case?

    Empty CourtroomIn North Carolina, you must attend a mandatory court hearing to resolve many traffic ticket violations. You cannot just plead guilty and mail in your payment like in other states. In addition, you face harsh penalties if you do not attend your scheduled court hearing.

    When Are You Required to Attend a Court Hearing to Resolve a Traffic Ticket?

    There are at least 17 traffic violations in our state that require you to attend a mandatory court hearing to find out your sentence. Even if you are able to waive going to court, it is rarely in your best interests to simply plead guilty given the serious punishments and long-term consequences you face. Here are a few common traffic infractions where you must go to court:

    • Driving when your driver’s license is suspended or revoked
    • Driving while intoxicated
    • Driving with an open container of alcohol in your vehicle after drinking
    • Reckless driving
    • Speeding by 15 mph or more while driving over 55 mph
    • Aggressive driving
    • Passing a stopped school bus
    • Driving without required auto insurance

    Penalties You Face If You Miss Your Court Hearing

    If you fail to appear at your court hearing, you will be given 20 days to make up the missed court hearing. After this 20-day period elapses, the judge would issue a Failure to Appear (FTA). Here is what could happen to you once a FTA is issued:

    • You would be assessed an additional $200 late fee that must be paid in addition to the fine for the traffic violation.
    • The court clerk would report your FTA to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV would send you a letter advising you that they would revoke your driver’s license if you do not resolve your court hearing by a certain deadline.
    • If your traffic violation was a misdemeanor offense, such as reckless driving, the judge could immediately issue a FTA instead of giving you 20 days to attend a new hearing and issue a warrant for your arrest.

    What Should You Do If You Missed Your Court Hearing?

    If you realize that you did not attend a required court hearing, you should contact the court clerk immediately to reschedule your hearing. Then you should retain an experienced traffic ticket attorney who can mount a strong defense so that the traffic ticket is dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.

    Were you issued a traffic violation in Mecklenburg County? Did you miss your court hearing? Our knowledgeable legal team will explain your options and defenses to you and fight so that you achieve the best possible outcome given your situation. To learn more, call our Charlotte office to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • How can I find a copy of my traffic ticket if I lost it?

    Driver Receiving a Traffic Ticket From an OfficerIf you lost your traffic ticket issued in Charlotte, you may not think it is a big deal, but it really is. Unlike in other states, you are required to attend a mandatory court hearing to resolve many traffic offenses, such as speeding, passing a school bus, and improper passing. You could face serious consequences if you do not appear at it.

    How to Locate a Copy of Your Traffic Ticket

    You should act quickly if you lose your traffic ticket. Ways to obtain a copy of it include:

    • Court website. You can find your traffic citation on the North Carolina Court’s website. You can search on the Citation Lookup Page by the traffic citation number or your name.
    • Traffic court. You can contact the traffic court in the county where you were issued your ticket and obtain a copy of it. You should check the court’s website to see if you can order your ticket online.

    If you obtain your traffic on the court’s website, it may not provide you with all the information you need to resolve your ticket. You may need to contact the traffic court directly to find out these details.

    You Face Serious Consequences If You Fail to Attend Your Court Hearing in Your Traffic Ticket Case

    You could face severe consequences if you miss your court hearing. You could be assessed an additional $200 or more in fines, or your driver’s license could be suspended or revoked. If the traffic offense was serious, the judge could issue a warrant for your arrest, or you could face additional criminal charges.

    Did you receive a traffic ticket in Mecklenburg County? Even if you believe that you committed the traffic violation, you may have defenses that can help you get the ticket dismissed or reduced to a less serious infraction. Our experienced traffic ticket attorneys are here to explain your options and defenses and fight so that you achieve the best possible outcome. To learn more, call our Charlotte office to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • Will filing a motion for appropriate relief help my traffic ticket case?

    top charlotte traffic attorneysA motion for appropriate relief (MAR) is a motion filed in a traffic or other criminal case to correct errors made at the trial or other criminal proceeding. If you were convicted of speeding, reckless driving, hit and run violations, or other serious traffic offenses, filing a motion for appropriate relief may help you avoid the conviction and harsh penalties you face.

    What Is a Motion for Appropriate Relief?

    Under N.C.G.S. § 15A-1420, an individual is allowed to file a MAR to challenge their conviction if there has been an error made in finding them guilty. It is not an appeal, and the court can conduct an evidentiary hearing when deciding the motion.

    Grounds for a MAR include:

    • The person did not understand the consequences of pleading guilty.
    • The judge misapplied the law or used an incorrect law.
    • The evidence did not support the jury’s finding that the defendant was guilty of the traffic offense.
    • New evidence has become available or new technology has been developed to analyze the evidence.
    • The individual’s attorney was ineffective in representing them.
    • A new law was passed that retroactively affects the conviction.

    How Do You File a Motion for Appropriate Relief?

    A MAR is most often a written motion filed with the court. In some cases, this motion can be raised orally at a court hearing. It cannot be filed until after a person is found guilty of the crime. When filing the motion, the defendant must show the following:

    • They have reviewed the trial transcript.
    • They have identified a legal basis for filing a MAR.
    • They are filing the motion in good faith.

    The motion for appropriate relief should be filed in the superior court in the district where the defendant was convicted. The District Attorney must be served with the motion.

    The judge has discretion on whether or not to hear the motion and can schedule an evidentiary hearing if they believe this is necessary. If they grant the motion, they will order appropriate relief, which can result in the conviction being overturned.

    Contact Top Charlotte Traffic Attorneys Today

    Were you convicted of a traffic offense in Mecklenburg County? Our knowledgeable traffic ticket lawyers can help you decide whether filing a MAR is a good option in your case. Call our Charlotte office today to schedule your free consultation to discuss your situation.

     

  • What should I say to the police if I’m stopped for reckless driving in Charlotte?

    Police Car With Flashing Lights in the Mirror of a CarIf a police officer pulls you over and charges you with reckless driving in Mecklenburg County, it is important to know how to handle talking to them. What you say and do can make your situation better or worse. Here is what you need to do to protect your legal rights and help an experienced traffic ticket attorney build a strong defense for you.

    How to Talk to the Police If You Are Being Charged With Reckless Driving

    The first crucial thing you must understand is that reckless driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina. It is a crime that comes with harsh punishments if you are convicted. Here is what you need to do to best protect yourself and avoid being charged with other crimes too:

    • Cooperate. You need to remain polite and cooperate with the officer’s request for your driver’s license and vehicle registration. You are required to provide this information to them when they pull you over for a traffic stop.
    • Remain silent. Exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Remember that anything you say can be used against you and can hurt your lawyer’s ability to defend you.
    • Do not answer questions. Do not be surprised if the police ask you questions like “Do you know why I pulled you over?” or “How fast were you going?” in an effort to get you to admit that you are guilty of reckless driving. Do not answer these or other questions.
    • Get a lawyer. You should retain a knowledgeable reckless driving lawyer as soon as possible after being charged with reckless driving. A lawyer can develop a strong defense strategy to help get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense and can attend all court hearings with you.

    Consult Our Experienced Traffic Defense Attorneys Today

    Were you charged with reckless driving in Mecklenburg County? Contact our Charlotte office today to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can defend you and how we have helped other clients like you obtain a successful outcome in their reckless driving case.

     

  • What should I do if there is a warrant out for my arrest?

    Arrest Warrant Paperwork and HandcuffsFinding out that the police have a warrant out for your arrest can be a scary experience. In many cases, you do not learn this until the police come to your door to arrest you. Whether you have advance notice of the warrant or find out when you are arrested, here are important steps you need to take to protect your legal rights and to fight the charges you face.

    #1: Retain an Attorney

    Your first step should be to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. They will be able to give you advice on what to do, be present at your arrest and during police questioning, and attend all court hearings with you. A skilled lawyer can also build a strong defense so that the charges are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense with less harsh punishments.

    #2: Contact a Bail Bondsperson

    After consulting with your lawyer, you may want to contact a bail bondsperson who can help you arrange to post bail if that is an option. Making arrangements with a bail bondsperson before you are arrested can shorten the time that you must remain in jail.

    #3: Turn Yourself In

    Your next step would be to turn yourself in and cooperate with the police during the booking process. It is important to do so at the correct jurisdiction so that you do not have to spend unnecessary time in jail before your bail is set. Your lawyer or bail bondsperson may be able to recommend the best times of day to surrender to the police to increase the likelihood that you will be released quicker.

    #4: Do Not Make Statements to the Police

    You have a constitutional right to remain silent while in police custody. Do not make any verbal or written statements to law enforcement officers. Your lawyer should be present whenever they question you. You should also do the following:

    • Do not make any statements anyone to in your jail cell or other inmates. These statements may also be used against you.
    • Be careful of what you say when using a telephone at the police station or jail because your conversation may be recorded.

    Our Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyers Are Ready To Protect Your Rights Today

    Is there a warrant out for your arrest in Mecklenburg County? Have you already been arrested? Contact our Charlotte office to schedule a free consultation to learn about our extensive criminal defense experience and how we can help you achieve the best outcome given your circumstances.

     

  • What could happen to me if I’m pulled over by the police and don’t have car insurance?

    Car Insurance Policy PaperworkLike in all other states, you must have liability auto insurance in order to drive a motor vehicle in North Carolina. You should not take this duty lightly. If you are caught driving without it, you could be charged with a crime.

    What Insurance Are You Required to Have in Mecklenburg County?

    Under North Carolina law, all owners of a registered motor vehicle operated in our state must carry these minimum amounts of liability auto insurance:

    • $30,000 for bodily injury per person and $60,000 for bodily injury per accident
    • $25,000 for property damage

    While you do not have to buy more than the minimum amount required, it is best to purchase additional coverage. This would protect you if you cause an injury in an accident or if you are hurt in a crash caused by another driver who has insufficient insurance to fully compensate you.

    Charges and Penalties for Driving Without Auto Insurance

    Driving without required motor vehicle insurance is a Class 1 misdemeanor in North Carolina. In addition to a criminal sentence, you would also owe civil penalties and could lose your license plates for 30 days if you fail to provide proof of new insurance and pay the civil penalties within 10 days.

    The sentence that you could face would depend on how many times you have violated the law. Here are the possible punishments:

    • First Offense. You could be sentenced to probation for 1 to 45 days. In addition, you would currently owe a $50 civil penalty and a $50 license reinstatement fee.
    • Second Offense. Your punishment could be a jail sentence or probation for between 1 and 45 days. The civil penalty would increase to $100, but the license reinstatement fee would still be $50.
    • Third or subsequent offense. The criminal penalty and civil reinstatement fee would be the same as for a second offense. However, you would have to pay a $150 civil penalty.

    If you are convicted of this crime, you would also have a permanent criminal record that can have long-term consequences on many aspects of your life.

    Talk To Our Experienced Traffic Ticket Lawyer Today

    Were you charged with failing to have auto insurance or another traffic offense? Our knowledgeable traffic ticket defense lawyers are here to explain your options to you and to raise a strong defense so that you achieve the best outcome given your situation. To learn more, call our Charlotte office to schedule a free consultation today.