North Carolina's Speeding Laws and Penalties

Read about North Carolina’s speeding laws and the consequences of getting a speeding ticket.

North Carolina has two types of speeding laws: a “basic speeding law” and “absolute limits.” This article explains the differences between the two and the consequences of a speeding violation.

Basic Speeding Law

North Carolina’s basic speeding law prohibits driving at a speed that is “greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.” In other words, motorists must always drive at a safe speed. What a safe speed is will depend on the circumstances. For instance, 55 miles per hour might be safe on a clear day with nice weather. But if there's snow on the road and visibility is poor, going 55 miles per hour would likely be dangerous and violate of the basic speeding law.

Absolute Speed Limits

There is no trick to how North Carolina’s absolute speed limits work: If the fixed speed limit is 50 miles per hour and you drive faster than that, you’ve violated the law. North Carolina’s absolute speed limits include:

  • 25 miles per hour inside municipal corporate limits
  • 55 miles per hour outside municipal corporate limits for all vehicles except school buses, and
  • 70 miles per hour on interstate highways.

Penalties for a Speeding Ticket

Generally, the penalty for a speeding violation is a fine. However, the total the driver pays will also include court costs, which typically range from about $150 to $200. For most speeding violations the fines are from $10 to $50, depending on the amount by which the driver exceeded the speed limit. But motorists who are caught speeding in school or constructions zones face a fine of $250.

Reckless Driving and Vehicular Homicide

Depending on the circumstances, a speeding violation can lead to a “reckless driving” conviction. A standard first offense is a class 2 misdemeanor and carries up to 30 days in jail and a maximum $1,000 in fines.

And if a speeding violation results in the death of another person, "death-by-vehicle" charges are a possibility. A conviction can carry up 160 months in prison.

Point System

Depending on the circumstances, a speeding violation can also add points to the motorist’s driving record. Accumulating too many points can lead to license suspension.

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