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 can going to a North Carolina traffic school can help if I get a traffic ticket?

    Various Adults Attending a Traffic School ClassIf you get a traffic ticket—such as a ticket for speeding or failing to yield to an emergency vehicle—you could face serious penalties, including a large fine, points on your driving record, and increased insurance costs. Some charges, such as reckless driving, are Class 1 misdemeanors that can result in a jail sentence and a permanent criminal record. Depending on your circumstances, taking traffic school courses may help you avoid some of these harsh consequences.

    What Are Traffic School Courses?

    Traffic school courses in North Carolina are also referred to as traffic safety courses, driver improvement clinics, and defensive driving classes. These courses last four to eight hours. You can complete your driver improvement clinic in a traditional classroom setting or through online courses if they are approved by the county where you received your ticket. Here are some of the topics that may be covered:

    • Information on how alcohol and drugs impair driving abilities
    • What the motivations are for effective and ineffective decision making
    • North Carolina’s laws on driver’s license suspensions and revocations
    • How to develop a plan to be a safer driver

    How Can Taking a Defensive Driving Course Help Me If I Received a Traffic Ticket in Charlotte?

    Before deciding to take a traffic safety class, it is important to discuss this with an experienced Charlotte traffic ticket lawyer. He can give you advice on whether it will help in your traffic court case. Sometimes it will not have any impact on the outcome. He can also give you guidance on how long your course should be, whether you can take it online, and what traffic schools are approved by the court.

    How attending a defensive driving class may help you will depend on your individual circumstances and the district where you received your ticket. Here are some of the potential benefits:

    • Reduction in the charge you are facing
    • Reduction in points on your driving record
    • Reduction in your insurance premiums, which could otherwise increase due to the additional points on your driving record

    Considering Taking a Traffic School Course?

    If you received a traffic ticket in the Charlotte area, our experienced traffic ticket attorneys can advise you whether taking a traffic school course is a good option and help you mount a strong defense so that you achieve the best possible outcome. Call our office to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we can assist you.

     

  • What is an improper equipment offense and how can it help me if I get a speeding ticket in North Carolina?

    Traffic Ticket for Speeding in North CarolinaAn improper equipment offense is a non-moving violation in North Carolina. You could receive this infraction for faulty equipment, such as a defective speedometer, broken tail light, or improper muffler. If you received a speeding ticket, you may be able to get the charge reduced to an improper equipment offense with the help of an experienced traffic law attorney.

    How Can Getting a Charlotte Speeding Ticket Reduced to an Improper Equipment Offense Help Me?

    It is within the prosecutor’s discretion to reduce a speeding ticket to an improper equipment offense, and you do not have to have a faulty speedometer for the prosecutor to agree to this plea. The most important factors in getting this reduction are the speed that you were driving at and your driving history.

    This could be a good outcome if you were ticketed for speeding. Here is how this can benefit you:

    • No points. Unlike a speeding ticket, an improper equipment offense will not result in any points on your driver license. When a sufficient number of points are applied to your driver’s license, your driver’s license could be suspended or revoked.
    • No increased insurance. Because an improper equipment offense is a violation with no points on your driver’s license or insurance, your insurance rates should not increase. You could owe significantly more in insurance premiums for a number of years after receiving and paying off a speeding ticket.

    When Are You Ineligible for an Improper Equipment Offense

    In North Carolina, each county's District Attorney's Office has discretion on how to handle your speeding ticket. The internal policies within these various offices may be different from one county to another. Some of the circumstances that could impact whether a certain District Attorney's Office reduces your speeding ticket to an improper equipment may include:

    • If your speeding ticket was for driving more than 20 miles over the posted speed limit
    • If your ticket was for speeding in a school or work zone
    • If you already received an improper equipment offense within the last three years
    • If you received another moving violation within the last three years
    • If you received more than three moving violations within the last 10 years

    Facing an Improper Equipment Offense

    Have you received a speeding ticket or other traffic citation in Charlotte? Our experienced traffic ticket lawyers are here to help you reach the best possible outcome in your case so that your ticket is dismissed or you owe fewer fines and have fewer long-term consequences. To discuss your options, schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • What penalties could I face if I am charged with a CDL-related offense in North Carolina?

    Two Commercial Trucks at a Charlotte Rest StopIf you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), being convicted of a traffic violation can have repercussions on your ability to drive a truck or other commercial vehicle and work. If the violation is serious enough, such as DUI or leaving the scene of an accident, your CDL could be suspended on a temporary basis or revoked. In addition, you could be charged with a CDL-related offense in North Carolina that can result in harsh penalties if you are convicted.

    CDL-Related Offenses and Penalties in North Carolina

    Drivers of commercial vehicles in North Carolina must comply with rules that do not apply to drivers of passenger vehicles. Many of these are federal requirements governing the trucking industry and other commercial drivers. Here are some CDL-related offenses and penalties in North Carolina:

    • Overweight. Vehicles that are overweight for a specific area or road are required to have a permit in order to be driven in the area or road, and the driver must carry the permit in his vehicle. In addition, the load must be loaded in a specific manner, and the vehicle must be licensed for maximum allowable weight. If a driver violates these rules, his permit could be suspended or revoked.
    • Logbook. Under federal regulations, a truck driver must complete a daily logbook that shows how long he drove, when he took a rest break, and provides other required information. This is to ensure that he complied with hours of service regulations that limit the number of hours a commercial driver can drive without taking a break. Violation of this rule by not completing or falsifying the logbook is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to six months in jail.
    • Speeding while towing a trailer. If a driver is speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit while pulling a trailer, this is considered a severe violation that could result in his CDL being suspended.
    • Lane violations. When a commercial vehicle driver violates lane restrictions on what lanes he can travel on, he could face fines and a revocation of his license for 30 to 60 days. Multiple lane violations could result in a longer or permanent revocation of his CDL license.

    Charlotte Lawyers for CDL-Related Offenses

    Have you been issued a ticket for one of these violations or another traffic citation while driving a commercial vehicle? You must take your offense seriously because it could affect your CDL license—and ability to work. Our experienced Charlotte traffic ticket attorneys are here to help you achieve the best outcome possible. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • I received a ticket in North Carolina for unsafe movements involving a motorcycle. What is this offense and what penalties could I face?

    A Motorcyclist on a North Carolina RoadWhile receiving a ticket for unsafe driving that involved a motorcycle may not seem like a big deal that requires a lawyer’s assistance, it can result in a hefty fine and long-term consequences in your life. Retaining an experienced Charlotte traffic ticket attorney can help avoid these harsh penalties.

    Unsafe Movement That Involves a Motorcycle Traffic Offense and Penalties in Charlotte

    Making unsafe movements when driving can apply to many unsafe driving practices, such as unsafe lane changes or improper turns. This ticket is often issued when there is a near-accident or collision. Under an amendment to this statute, the legislature made the penalties even harsher when a motorcycle is involved in the violation. You can be ticketed for this offense if you make an unsafe movement and cause a vehicle to change travel lanes or to leave a public road or highway. Here are the potential penalties you could face if convicted:

    • The minimum fine assessed is $200.
    • If the unsafe movement results in property damage or injuries to the motorcycle rider or his passengers, the fine could be increased to a minimum of $500 and may be even more.
    • If the property damage is more than $5,000 or the rider or a passenger suffers serious bodily injury, the minimum fine increases to $750. In addition, your driver’s license could be suspended for up to 30 days. However, you may be able to obtain limited driving privileges during this time period.

    In addition to the large fines that you may have to pay, you could also incur other long-term expenses. Four points will be added to your driver’s license. This can increase your insurance premiums by as much as 25 percent.

    Even if you want to just pay the ticket, you will need to attend at least one court hearing to resolve your citation. However, a lawyer may be able to appear on your behalf so that you do not have to take time off work to do so.

    Contact a Lawyer For Unsafe Movement Ticket

    You may have defenses to an unsafe movement ticket that can result in it being dismissed or reduced to a less serious traffic violation—even if you violated this law. To learn more about your options, call our office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Charlotte traffic ticket lawyers.

     

  • Can I be charged with reckless driving in North Carolina if I live out-of-state?

    Out of State Driver That Is Being Charged With Reckless DrivingIf you live in another state, you can be charged with reckless driving and face the same punishment as a person who resides in North Carolina. Unfortunately, reckless driving is not the same as a traffic violation in our state. It is a Class 2 misdemeanor, and the penalties if convicted include a jail sentence of up to 60 days, fine of up to $1,000, driver’s license suspension, and points on your driving record. You would also have a permanent criminal record.

    Will You Have to Attend a Court Hearing If Charged With Reckless Driving in North Carolina?

    Reckless driving is not a “waivable offense” where you can pay the fine before the court hearing date and not appear in court. You must attend the scheduled court hearing even if you just want to plead guilty. If you fail to appear, you could owe additional court costs, and the judge may issue a warrant for your arrest. However, our experienced reckless driving attorneys may be able to attend your court hearing on your behalf without the need for you to be present.

    How Will a North Carolina Reckless Driving Conviction Affect Your Driving Record in Your Home State?

    North Carolina is a member of the Driver License Compact. It is an interstate compact of states used to exchange information about driver’s license suspensions and traffic violations of non-residents. Currently, 45 states are members of the compact.

    The Department of Motor Vehicles in North Carolina would report your driver’s license suspension and reckless driving conviction to your home state if it is a member of the Driver License Compact. Your state would treat the conviction as it if occurred in the state where you live.

    Facing Reckless Driving Charges?

    If you live in another state and are charged with reckless driving in North Carolina, you must retain an attorney licensed in our state to represent you in court. Our experienced Charlotte reckless driving attorneys have the added advantage of being former prosecutors, so we understand their strategies in these cases. To learn about our extensive experience and commitment to providing our clients with the best possible defense, start an online chat or call our office to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • What racing crimes could I be charged with in North Carolina?

    Car Racing Down a Charlotte RoadIllegally racing a vehicle is a serious crime in North Carolina, and if convicted, you could face many long-term consequences. These are misdemeanor offenses which can result in you having a permanent criminal record. Besides the punishments for a misdemeanor, you may lose your driver’s license for a lengthy period of time and have your vehicle seized.

    Common Racing Offenses in North Carolina

    There are two offenses that you can be charged with for illegal racing. They are:

    • Prearranged racing. It is unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle on a street or highway willfully in a prearranged race with another motor vehicle. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor with possible penalties of a fine, probation, and jail time depending on your prior criminal record. If convicted, your driver’s license would be revoked for three years, but you may request that it be reinstated after 18 months. In addition, your vehicle would be seized at your arrest. It would be sold, and you would incur 12 insurance points if you are convicted.
    • Willful racing. It is also a crime to operate a motor vehicle on a street or highway willfully in a speed competition with another vehicle. This is a Class 2 misdemeanor, and the punishment includes possible driver’s license revocation for one year. However, this is discretionary. Ten insurance points would be incurred. The police are not authorized to seize and sell your vehicle if you are convicted.

    There are other crimes associated with illegal racing that are also Class 1 misdemeanors:

    • Loaning a vehicle for racing. It is illegal to loan a motor vehicle for use in prearranged racing. If convicted, the owner would face a three-year suspension of his driver’s license but could request that it be reinstated after 18 months. He would also incur 10 insurance points.
    • Betting on a prearranged race. You could be charged with this offense for placing or receiving a bet on the outcome of a prearranged race on a street or highway. If convicted, your driver’s license would be suspended for three years—the same as if you were found guilty of prearranged racing.

    Facing Racing Charges?

    Have you been charged with illegal racing in North Carolina? Our experienced traffic ticket attorneys are here to mount a strong defense so that you achieve the best possible outcome. To schedule your free consultation, call our office or start an online chat today.

     

  • Will I be required to install an interlock ignition device on my vehicle after a DWI conviction?

    Charlotte Resident Using an Interlock Ignition While in a CarIf you are convicted of DWI in North Carolina, your driver’s license could be suspended for 30 days for a first conviction and for longer for a subsequent conviction or failure to consent to a breathalyzer test at the time you were arrested. Losing your ability to drive can have long-term consequences on your ability to work and your ability to get where you need to go. In order to get your driving privileges restored, the court could require you to install an interlock ignition device.

    What Is an Interlock Ignition Device?

    An interlock ignition device is an alcohol-testing device that attaches to your dashboard and is similar to what is used to administer a breathalyzer test. You cannot turn on your vehicle until you blow into the device, and it measures your blood alcohol content. If it registers any level of alcohol, your ignition will not start. It also requires you to take the test at random times when you are driving. If you fail the test, your vehicle will shut down. In order to restart it, you would need to contact the system’s provider to reset it.

    When Is an Ignition Interlock Device Required?

    If this is a first offense DWI, you probably will not be required to install an ignition interlock device. However, the court would order it installed in these situations:

    • You were convicted of DWI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over 0.15 percent.
    • You were convicted of more than one DWI during a seven-year period.

    Who Pays for Installation and Maintenance of This Device?

    Unfortunately, you must pay for the installation and monthly rental and maintenance fees for the ignition interlock device and must obtain it from a court-approved facility. This can be costly over time.

    Have you been charged with DWI in Charlotte? Call us or start an online chat to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced DWI attorneys. We will be happy to discuss your case with you and how we can help ensure that the penalties you face are as minor as possible.

     

  • What is a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) in North Carolina?

    North Carolina Do Not Resuscitate OrderIn North Carolina, a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) is a medical order signed by a physician that alerts emergency personnel that you do not wish to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of a medical emergency. This means that if you have DNR in place, health care professionals will not try to revive you by using CPR if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing. The DNR is only a decision to withhold CPR, not the administration of other medical treatments such as a feeding tube, surgery, blood transfusions, and pain medicine. These latter medical treatments, as well as other life-prolonging measures, are typically addressed in a person’s living will, either on its own or as part of a health care power of attorney. 

    When is a DNR Necessary?

    Unlike a living will and a health care power of attorney, a DNR is not a necessary component to everyone’s North Carolina estate plan. In fact, careful consideration should be given before having a DNR implemented. In most circumstances, a DNR is used only for the very elderly, the frail, and the critically ill for whom it wouldn't make sense to perform CPR. Additionally, not understanding the difference between a living will and a DNR may result in medical treatments being administered, or withheld, in a manner inconsistent with your desires. 

    It is advisable to discuss the option of a DNR with both your North Carolina estate planning attorney, who may be able to utilize other legal tools to better address your goals and objectives, and your physician, who would be the person who needs to prepare and sign the DNR order, to ensure that your health care decisions are planned effectively. 

    Talk To an Estate Planning Attorney

    Our estate planning attorneys are here to answer your questions and help achieve your goals and objectives. Call our North Carolina office today at (980) 207-3355, or contact us online, to discuss your estate planning needs.

     

  • Is it illegal to text and drive in North Carolina?

    Man Texting While Driving Through North CarolinaAny form of distracted driving is unsafe, but using a cell phone while driving is one of the most dangerous types of distractions that lead to accidents. In North Carolina, it is illegal to text and drive. Violating this law can result in stiff fines and harsh penalties if you are a school bus or commercial truck driver.

    What Is North Carolina’s Law on Texting and Driving?

    While most motorists over 18 years old are allowed to talk on a cell phone while driving, texting while driving is banned. North Carolina is a “primary law” state, which means that the police can stop you and issue you a ticket solely for violating this law. It is illegal for drivers to:

    • Manually enter letters or text in a cell phone in an effort to communicate with another individual
    • Read an e-mail or text transmitted to or stored in an electronic device

    There are exceptions to this ban on texting and driving. It will not apply in these situations:

    • The driver is lawfully parked or stopped
    • The person is a police officer, firefighter, or ambulance driver texting while they are performing official duties
    • The technology used is a factory-installed or after-purchased GPS
    • The person is using voice-operated technology

    Fines and Drivers' License Points

    A violation of this traffic law is a civil infraction that is punishable by a $100 fine. A person will not have drivers’ license points placed on his driving record or face higher insurance costs.                                                                               

    If the individual violating the texting ban is a school bus driver, it would be a Class 2 misdemeanor, not a civil infraction. The penalty is a fine of at least $100.

    There are more severe penalties if the person is driving a commercial vehicle. Commercial truck drivers are also prohibited from texting and driving under federal regulations. Two convictions within three years will result in the person’s commercial license being suspended for 60 days while three convictions within this time period could result in a 120-day revocation.

    Speak To a Traffic Ticket Lawyer Today

    Did you receive a traffic ticket for texting while driving in Charlotte? Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are here to answer your questions and help you achieve the best possible outcome with fewer long-term consequences. Call our Charlotte office today to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • Do I need an attorney if I have been charged with reckless driving in North Carolina?

    Do You Know How a Reckless Driving Attorney Can Help YouYou may consider trying to save money by attending your court hearing for your reckless driving charges on your own. However, retaining an experienced reckless driving attorney is in your best interests, and it may be more affordable to do so than you may think

    Why You Need to Retain an Experienced Reckless Driving Attorney

    You may not realize it, but you do have options for fighting a reckless driving charge even if you believe that you are guilty. Here are reasons why you want an experienced reckless driving attorney at your side:

    • Misdemeanor offense. Reckless driving is not a traffic offense in North Carolina. It is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. In addition, it will result in a permanent criminal record, points on your driving record, increased insurance costs, and a possible driver’s license suspension. You may be able to avoid some of these harsh consequences if you are represented by an attorney.
    • Possible defenses. You may have defenses to the charges, such as speedometer calibration, GPS defense, lack of probable cause to stop you, and other violations of your constitutional rights, even if you are guilty. A skilled lawyer will be able to identify these defenses and use them to fight to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.
    • Court hearing. You are required to appear at a court hearing when charged with reckless driving in North Carolina. However, your attorney may be able to attend your hearing without you so that you do not have to miss work and lose wages.
    • Plea bargain. An attorney will be able to enter into a more favorable plea agreement if that is in your best interest. He may be able to use facts in your case, such as a clean driving record or successful completion of a driver improvement course, to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charges to a less serious traffic offense.

    Contact a Reckless Driving Attorney

    At Browning & Long, PLLC, we are committed to aggressively fighting for the rights of our clients facing reckless driving charges. We have the added advantage of being former prosecutors, which gives us a greater understanding of the strategies that they employ in these cases. To learn more about your possible defenses and how we can assist you, start an online chat to schedule your free consultation today.