Like other states, North Carolina has a law on the books which defines certain poor driving behaviors as reckless driving.
The idea behind this law is that there are some traffic violations which, even if they don’t involve alcohol or drugs, are so serious that they deserve more than just a fine and some points on one’s motor vehicle record.
A person convicted of reckless driving will have a criminal record and may even go to jail. Even for someone with no prior convictions, a $1,000 fine and up to 30 days on probation or a similar program is possible. Of course, a reckless driving charge can also have a profound impact on one’s driving privileges.
The definition of reckless driving in North Carolina is broad. It does cover driving in a way that the law calls willful and wanton disregard of the public’s safety. So, behavior like street racing or flagrant speeding would fall into this definition.
However, reckless driving can also include just about any careless behavior that could endanger another motorist. Even rude but common driving behavior, like weaving in traffic or trying to beat a red light can lead to a reckless driving charge.
In fact, anyone who causes an accident can, in theory, face a reckless driving charge since they have endangered another motorist simply by causing an accident.
In short, whether a motorist faces a reckless driving charge can depend a lot on the personal opinions of law enforcement officers and prosecutors.
Someone accused of reckless driving will want to evaluate his or her legal options carefully. Defenses may be available to them, and they also may have some other options for avoiding a criminal conviction.