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What Are Traffic Violations And Infractions In North Carolina?

North Carolina traffic violations and infractions are terms used to describe illegal actions by motorists against the North Carolina Driving Laws. Punishments and sentences for breaching or breaking the laws vary based on the severity of the offense committed. For example, an offender who is frequently charged with Driving While Impaired could be convicted of a felony with license suspension, seizure of the vehicle, payment of fines, and jail time as penalties. However, offenses with lesser severities generally carry fines or community service as their penalties.

What Are Felony Traffic Violations In North Carolina?

In North Carolina, felony traffic violation occurs when a person is injured, property is destroyed, or it causes a threat to life or possession. Felonies are the most severe category of crimes, and felony laws can differ from federal to state. The most common type of felony traffic violation is Driving While Impaired (D. W. I.). In these cases, prior convictions may lead to higher felony classifications and increased sentences. Felony classes and the punishments involved can be found under the G. S. 20–141.5 statute.

Examples Of Felony Traffic Violations In North Carolina

Some examples of felony traffic violations in North Carolina include:

  • Habitual impaired driving with three or more impaired driving charges in the last ten years is a Class F Felony
  • Serious Injury by Vehicle is a Class F Felony
  • Aggravated Felony Serious Injury by Vehicle is considered a Class E Felony
  • Death by Vehicle is a Class D Felony
  • Aggravated Felony Death by Vehicle is a Class D Felony
  • Repeat Felony Death by Vehicle is a Class B2 Felony
  • Failure to stop in the event of a crash is considered a Class F Felony in the case of severe bodily injury or death, or a Class H Felony for minor physical injury.

What Are Traffic Misdemeanors In North Carolina

Misdemeanor cases in North Carolina include driving while intoxicated, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, or committing a hit and run.

Driving while intoxicated (D. W. I.) is a case in which an individual’s blood alcohol content is above 0.08. A first-time D. W. I. charge carries a misdemeanor punishable by up to $2,000 in fines with a minimum of 24 hours in jail time. A second-time D. W. I. charge, also considered a misdemeanor, is punishable by up to $2,000 in fines with a minimum of 7 days to 12 months in jail. A third-time misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to $2,000 in fines and 14 days to 2 years in jail time. These various misdemeanor charges are in accordance with the G. S. 20–138.1(d) statute.

In North Carolina, the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash is expected to stop at the scene of the accident, whether the vehicle is inhabited or not. A class 1 misdemeanor charge may be placed on the driver if the driver fails to stop at the scene of an accident. All driving information and details should be provided to the driver of the other vehicle or police officer, as stipulated in the statutes.

Examples Of Traffic Misdemeanors In North Carolina

Some examples of traffic misdemeanor crimes in North Carolina include:

  • Reckless driving
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Speeding
  • Aggressive driving

What Constitutes A Traffic Infraction In North Carolina?

The majority of driving-related offenses in North Carolina are usually grouped as infractions (also called violations). A traffic infraction is the least severe traffic offense and can be defined as an act or omission that is prohibited by law but isn’t a crime. Traffic infractions are punishable by fines enforced by issuing citations or tickets.

In most cases, North Carolina residents do not regard getting a traffic ticket as a serious issue. Many will simply pay the ticket in advance to avoid attending a court hearing, which is easy to achieve in North Carolina, considering the state has an automated system to pay ticket fines via the Internet. However, most people do not realize that they are pleading guilty to a traffic offense that could have serious significance on their lives beyond just paying the fines associated with the ticket. Traffic charges may lead to the addition of points on their driving record or increased insurance rates or the suspension or revocation of their driver’s license.

Examples Of Traffic Infractions In North Carolina

In North Carolina, traffic infractions are punishable with the issuance of fines and points on your driving record according to the North Carolina Driving Laws. Some examples of these infractions include:

  • Driving without a valid registration
  • Making an illegal U-turn
  • Not stopping at the sight of a red light or a stop sign
  • North Carolina’s seat belt or child restraint law violation
  • Failing to have required liability insurance
  • Failing to yield
  • Following too closely
  • Speeding in work zones or school zone
  • Eluding law enforcement officials
  • Improperly passing, turning, or backing up

When convicted of a traffic offense, the court is notified by the North Carolina Department of Transportation to ensure points are added onto your driving record, if applicable. Also, the Safe Driver Incentive Plan may award insurance points.

How Does A Traffic Ticket Work In North Carolina?

A traffic ticket in North Carolina is a notice issued to a motorist signaling that he/she has broken a traffic law or committed a traffic infraction or violation by a law enforcement officer. This ticket charge can be dismissed by:

  • Informing the traffic court about the decision to enter into a not guilty plea can only be done in person on the hearing date listed on the ticket
  • Hiring a traffic ticket lawyer who specializes in giving legal advice on dismissing the ticket or reaching a plea bargain agreement
  • Gather and provide all necessary facts, witnesses, and arguments from the incidents to be presented before the judge.
  • Present your case stating all the facts and calling on witnesses. Afterward, the judge will make a decision based on your presentation and give a verdict.

North Carolina has two kinds of points for traffic tickets: the driver’s license points and insurance points. They stay on the driving records for three years, and additional points get added to the total for every new offense in that period.

For your driver’s license points, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (D. O. T.) places points against your driver’s license for certain types of violations, and the North Carolina Driver’s Handbook has a list of violations with the points associated with each one. For example, passing a school bus that has been stopped may add five points, following another vehicle too closely may add four points, driving on the wrong side of the road may add four points, and speeding over 55 mph may add three points.

For insurance points, the North Carolina Safe Driver Incentive Plan (S. D. I. P.) gives points for convictions and at-fault accidents, which are similar to the driver’s license points and remain on a driver’s record for three years with additional points for every new conviction. The points affect an individual’s insurance rates when being renewed or purchased. Some of the violations include prearranged highway racing which may add 12 points, driving while impaired (D. W. I.), which may add 12 points, speeding to elude arrest, which may add 10 points, and reckless driving, which may add four points.

The added insurance points are significant by the percentage increase they add to your insurance rate when renewing or purchasing a new one. The increased rates include:

  • 12 points—340% increase
  • 10 points—260% increase
  • 8 points—195% increase
  • 4 points—80% increase
  • 3 points—60% increase
  • 2 points—45% increase
  • 1 point—30% increase

Note: There is a difference between moving and non-moving violations. In moving violations, a vehicle in motion breaks a traffic law like speeding, running a red light, or driving while intoxicated. In non-moving violations, offenses like inattentive driving, double parking, or driving without a seat belt, etc. are committed.

Are Driving Records Public In North Carolina?

North Carolina driving records are documents of an individual’s driving history and are filed by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles Records. The records generally include name, address, driver license number and status, vehicle-related convictions, driver control actions, and traffic wrecks. However, pending charges are not documented in North Carolina driving records.

The N. C. G. S. 20–43.1 requires that personal information in Motor Vehicle Records are not to be disclosed to the members of the public except in special events. Cases in which an individual’s driving record can be revealed in North Carolina include:

  • In matters of a motor vehicle or driver safety and theft
  • In a civil, criminal, administrative or arbitral proceeding in any federal, state or local court or agency
  • For use by insurance companies in connection with claims investigation, anti-fraud activities, rating or underwriting.
  • For use in providing notice to owners of towed or impounded vehicles
  • For use by private investigators or licensed security services

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. Operating independently of any government agency, these websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How To Find Driving Records In North Carolina?

North Carolina driving records are maintained by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (D. M. V.). The D. M. V. is a government agency responsible for gathering, maintaining, and issuing copies of driving records in North Carolina. Requests for driving records can be made online, by mail or in-person at N. C. D. M. V. headquarters at Raleigh and a fee is attached to obtain different copies of this record.

The criteria involved typically includes presenting a government-issued I. D. card or a valid North Carolina driver license. The requestor will also provide information such as first and last name, date of birth, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or U.S. Visa number or Social Security number. To request by mail, fill the Official Driver Record Request Form (DL-DPPA–1) and submit along with the receipt of payment to N. C. Division of Motor Vehicles records located at:

N. C. D. M. V. Headquarters
1100 New Bern Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27697

Mail requests will be processed within ten business days of receipt, while in-person orders are fulfilled immediately.

Can Traffic Violations And Infractions Be Expunged/Sealed In North Carolina?

In 2017, Senate Bill 445 was signed by the Governor of North Carolina, which allowed people to get expungements for prior convictions while also reducing the time required to wait before being eligible. Also, it is notable that under the new law, you can get multiple expungements. Circumstances under N. C. G. S. 15A–146 that make a person eligible for expungement of a felony conviction include:

  • Having no felony conviction on record
  • If the case was dismissed by the court or district attorney
  • If adjudged not guilty by a jury.

A misdemeanor may be expungeable if, after getting charged, the case is dismissed by the court or if found not guilty by a judge or jury. Driving while impaired is an inexpugnable conviction except when the D. W. I. charge is dismissed or found not guilty by a judge or jury. In this case, the conviction may be expunged.

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