North Carolina Speeding Laws

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Basic Speed Law: No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing. NC § 20-141(a)

Penalty for Exceeding Speed Limit

A first time violator may be:

  • fined between $100 and $1,000,
  • sentenced to jail time of not more than 60 days, and
  • the violator’s license may be suspended not more than one year.

Penalty for Reckless Driving

A first time violator may be:

  • fined not more than $1000,
  • sentenced to jail time between one to 60 days, and
  • the violator’s license may be suspended not more than one year.

Speed Limits

  • 70 MPH on the interstate highway system or other controlled-access
  • 55 MPH on highways outside municipal corporate limits
  • 35 MPH on highways inside municipal corporate limits

North Carolina Speeding Laws

North Carolina has what is known as an “absolute” speed limit law. There is no trick to how this works: If the sign says 40 mph and you drive 41 mph or more, you have violated the law. In other words, you are guilty if you drive over the speed limit. In North Carolina you may be able to make three possible defenses:

  • Attacking the officer’s determination of your speed. To do this you must discover what method the officer used to cite you and then learn about the ways to attack that particular method.
  • Claiming an emergency forced you to exceed the speed limit to avoid serious damage or injury to yourself or others.
  • Claiming that the officer mistook your car for another car. With so many similar-looking cars, it is possible that a cop could see a speeding car, lose sight of it around a corner, and then wrongly pick out your car farther down the road.

Note that in North Carolina you can be ticketed for driving at an unsafe speed, even if that speed does not violate the posted limit -- for example, driving exactly at the maximum mph posted limit on the freeway amidst slower and heavy traffic, in a dense fog, or in a driving rainstorm or blizzard.

Point System

A person's license is subject to suspension if they accumulate 12 points within 3 years. The following points have been assigned to speeding or speed related offenses: Reckless driving-4 points (5 points if operating a commercial motor vehicle); exceeding the posted speed limit of 55 MPH-3 points (4 points if operating a commercial motor vehicle); exceeding the posted speed limit in a school zone-3 points (4 points if operating a commercial motor vehicle); and, all other violations-2 points (3 points if operating a commercial motor vehicle). 

by: , Attorney

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