Reckless Driving / Aggressive Driving

Many people assume that driving recklessly or aggressively can only result in a simple traffic violation. When considering these offenses, the terms reckless driving and aggressive driving are often incorrectly used interchangeably.

However, the truth is that both of these offenses are actually crimes that are classified as misdemeanors in North Carolina. Furthermore, they are not the same offense, although both can result in possible fines and imprisonment.

Raleigh Reckless Driving Lawyer

Have you recently been cited for driving aggressively or recklessly in North Carolina? Coolidge Law Firm provides experienced legal representation for these offenses and many other serious traffic violations.

Our Wake County aggressive driving attorneys represent clients of all ages, including college students from such Research Triangle area schools as Duke University, Meredith College, North Carolina State University, Shaw University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech), and William Peace University. Call (919) 239-8448 right now to have our firm review your case during a free, confidential consultation.


Wake County Aggressive Driving Information Center


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Reckless Driving Charges in North Carolina

The criminal offenses of aggressive driving and reckless driving are both codified under Chapter 20 of the North Carolina General Statutes. These crimes are both classified as misdemeanors, but they have different levels of severity.

Under North Carolina General Statute § 20-140, reckless driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor. It is defined as any person driving any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area either:

  • carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others; or
  • without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property.

Aggressive driving is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor under North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.6. The statute defines aggressive driving as any person operating a motor vehicle on a street, highway, or public vehicular area, driving carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others, and either violating speed limits in school zones under North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.1 or speed restrictions under North Carolina General Statute § 20-141.

The statute also states that in order to prove an alleged offender was driving carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others, the state will need to prove that the driver committed two or more of the below specified offenses while committing one of the aforementioned speeding violations:

  • Running through a red light
  • Running through a stop sign
  • Illegal passing
  • Failing to yield right-of-way
  • Following too closely

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Raleigh Penalties for Aggressive Driving

North Carolina uses a complicated “structured sentencing” system when determining what punishments to impose on alleged offenders. Structured sentencing provides judges with specific standards that address not only the severity of the crime an alleged offender is currently facing, but also takes into account that person’s prior criminal history.

There are three forms of punishment in North Carolina:

  • Active Punishment — This requires an alleged offender to be incarcerated in jail. Alleged offenders who receive active punishments of 90 days or less serve their sentences local confinement facilities, but those who receive punishments of more than 90 days are committed to the Statewide Misdemeanant Confinement Program and serve their sentences in local confinement facilities designated by the program.
  • Intermediate Punishment — This requires a sentence of supervised probation and can also include a period of active confinement followed by a period of probation (also known as a split sentence) or other strict guidelines.
  • Community Punishment — This is any sentence other than an active punishment. It may involve house arrest with electronic monitoring, community service, a period or periods of confinement in a local confinement facility, or other punishments.

In misdemeanor cases, alleged offenders are classified into one of three prior conviction levels. A person with no prior convictions is a Prior Conviction Level I, a person with one to four prior convictions is a Prior Conviction Level II, and a person with five or more prior convictions is considered a Prior Conviction Level III.

If an alleged offender has been charged with the Class 2 misdemeanor of reckless driving, then he faces the following possible sentences:

  • Prior Conviction Level I — A community punishment of between one and 30 days.
  • Prior Conviction Level II — A community or intermediate punishment of between one and 45 days.
  • Prior Conviction Level III — A community, intermediate, or active punishment of between one and 60 days.

For the Class 1 misdemeanor of aggressive driving, then the alleged offender faces these possible sentences:

  • Prior Conviction Level I — A community punishment of between one and 45 days.
  • Prior Conviction Level II — A community, intermediate, or active punishment of between one and 45 days.
  • Prior Conviction Level III — A community, intermediate, or active punishment of between one and 120 days.

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Reckless Driving Defenses in Wake County

Whether you have been charged with aggressive driving or reckless driving, a skilled lawyer may be able to use any one of a number of possible defenses to fight for a reduction or complete dismissal of charges. Every case is different, so unique factors in your own situation can apply.

Some of the most common defenses an attorney will use in handling these types of cases include, but are not limited to:

  • Police officer radar not calibrated
  • Alleged offender’s manner of driving was issue of necessity because of emergency situation
  • Driving behavior was issue of negligence, not willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others
  • No people or property endangered by alleged reckless or aggressive driving
  • Witness testimony does not support observations of ticketing officer
  • Ticket issued at scene of accident not caused by aggressive or reckless driving

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Find the Best Aggressive Driving Lawyer in Raleigh

If you have been ticketed for driving recklessly or aggressively in North Carolina, you should take the charges seriously and immediately seek legal counsel. Coolidge Law Firm understands the major consequences that convictions in these types of cases can have enormous consequences, which is why we fight to get the most favorable outcomes for our clients.

Our firm helps motorists in such communities as Raleigh, Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Morrisville, and Wake Forest. Let our Wake County reckless driving attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free consultation by calling (919) 239-8448 today.

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