Reckless Driving Charges Penalties | NC Criminal Attorney What is Reckless Driving in North Carolina?

N.C.G.S. 20-140 outlines the legal definition and consequences of reckless driving in North Carolina. Here are the key components of the statute.

Careless and Heedless Disregard for Others

The first part of the statute, subsection (a), defines reckless driving “as any individual who drives any motor vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others.” In simpler terms, if you operate a vehicle in a manner that demonstrates a complete disregard for the safety and well-being of others on the road, you may be charged with reckless driving. 

This aspect of the statute encompasses a wide range of behaviors if done in a manner that endangers others. In addition, a highway is broadly defined to include most roads in Charlotte.

Driving Without Due Caution and Circumspection 

Subsection (b) of N.C.G.S. 20-140 addresses another way a person can commit the crime of reckless driving. It defines reckless driving as “any individual who operates any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property.”

In essence, this part of the statute focuses on the lack of care and caution exhibited by a motorist. Even if your actions don’t amount to a willful disregard for others, driving without the necessary care and attention required by the situation can still result in a reckless driving charge.

Commercial Vehicles

Subsection (f) of N.C.G.S. 20-140 provides for when drivers of commercial vehicles can be charged with reckless driving. If you drive a commercial motor vehicle carrying a load subject to permit requirements (as outlined in N.C.G.S. 20-119), you can be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor for reckless driving if you engage in:

  • “Driving carelessly and heedlessly in wanton or willful disregard for other individuals' rights or safety;” 
  • “Driving without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner likely to endanger a person or property.”

5 Essential Steps to Take if You're Arrested for Reckless Driving in Charlotte

Facing a reckless driving charge is a daunting experience, but taking certain actions promptly can make a critical difference in the outcome of your case. 

1. Stay Calm  

If you’re pulled over for reckless driving, remain calm and respectful when interacting with law enforcement officers. Cooperate with their requests, provide your identification, and avoid arguing or making admissions.

2. Seek Legal Representation 

As soon as possible, consult a knowledgeable reckless driving attorney in Charlotte like the professionals at Browning & Long P.L.L.C. Legal counsel is crucial in building your potential defenses and strategizing on the best course of action.

3. Review the Notice to Appear 

Carefully examine the notice to appear, as it contains important details about your charge, court date, and other relevant information. Put the court date on your calendar, and provide the notice to appear to your attorney. 

4. Understand Your Rights 

Ensure that you understand your rights, including the right to remain silent. Avoid making statements to law enforcement or anyone else without your lawyer present.

5. Maintain Court Hearings 

Attend all scheduled court hearings, as failing to do so can result in additional criminal charges. Dress appropriately and arrive on time.

Howard W. Long, II
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Charlotte Criminal Defense and DWI Lawyer