When does speeding turn into reckless driving?

On Behalf of | Nov 21, 2021 | Criminal Defense

If you are like many North Carolinians, you often find there are too few hours in the day to accomplish everything you need to finish. Exceeding the speed limit by a few miles per hour may be part of fitting everything into your hectic schedule.

Speeding may not be harmless, though. In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, speed contributed to nearly 9,500 traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2019 alone. Furthermore, while a speeding ticket may cost you more than $200, reckless driving may give you a criminal record.

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor

In North Carolina, reckless driving is usually a misdemeanor criminal offense instead of a simple traffic violation. Upon conviction, you may pay a steep fine and even serve a short jail sentence. For repeated offenses, you may pay higher fines, serve more jail time and lose your driving privileges.

Speeding can constitute reckless driving

If you only drive a couple of miles per hour over the speed limit, you are not likely to face reckless driving charges.

Reckless driving happens when you willfully or wantonly disregard the safety of others. In places where the posted speed limit is 55 mph or slower, exceeding it by 15 mph or more may qualify as reckless driving. As speed limits increase, though, the threshold for reckless driving drops.

For example, driving 75 mph in a 65 mph zone may be reckless driving. Likewise, if you speed during inclement weather or while using your smartphone, you may face reckless driving charges.

There are usually ways to defend yourself against a reckless driving charge, of course. Ultimately, to avoid having a criminal record, it may be advisable to research them.