Common North Carolina Traffic Violations and Penalties (2024)

If you’ve recently been given a ticket for speeding or another traffic violation, you may be tempted to pay it, even if you don’t believe you did anything wrong. However, North Carolina traffic violations and penalties can be significant. Many people are unaware that they have the ability to contest tickets. It could be worth consulting with a traffic ticket attorney who can help you avoid the consequences of a traffic violation, from insurance hikes to large fines.

Penalty Point System for Traffic Offenses in NC

For North Carolina residents, there are systems in place that affect their driving record and motor vehicle insurance when charged with a traffic citation. A traffic ticket has the potential to add a specific number of points to your driver’s license/record in addition to your overall insurance points. Minor traffic infractions may only add one or two points to your driver’s license, while more serious violations are assigned with more points as punishment.

The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles has the authority to suspend your driver’s license if you accumulate a certain number of points within a set time period. If a driver incurs 12 or more points within three years, it’s likely their license will be suspended. If a driver accumulates eight or more points during the three years after having their driver’s license reinstated, they are also subject to their license being suspended again.

A driver’s first license suspension will generally be for a relatively short time period. However, the length of time for which your license is suspended will increase with each subsequent suspension. If a single occurrence yields more than one traffic citation, the driver will usually only incur points for the most severe violation. Some traffic crimes are so serious that their penalties include a license suspension, regardless of any prior driver’s license points.

Under some circumstances, it may be possible to have the points on your driving record reduced or removed upon the completion of a driving improvement course. Having your license suspended can be a huge inconvenience and impact other areas of your life. Being arrested for driving with a suspended license is also a serious violation in itself, so it’s important to talk with a traffic ticket lawyer as soon as you receive a ticket.

Frequently Reported Traffic Infractions in North Carolina

Here are some examples of common traffic citations in North Carolina, from fewest to most points:

  • Failure to properly restrain a child, tailgating, improperly changing lanes
  • Running a red light, failure to stop at a stop sign or stop for a siren, speeding, failing to yield the right-of-way, driving without a valid license or liability insurance
  • Reckless driving, illegal passing, hit-and-runs involving only property damage
  • Aggressive driving, passing a stopped school bus
  • Driving while impaired/intoxicated/under the influence of alcohol or other substances

Potential Punishments for DWIs and Other Traffic Violations

In addition to points against your driving record and potentially having your license suspended, traffic violations also add points to your driver’s insurance. Depending on how many points you have or gain, your vehicle insurance monthly premium may increase significantly and not decrease for a number of years.

Other penalties you can face following a traffic citation conviction include vehicle impoundment, installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car, paying fines, probation, and serving jail time. Some violations are considered severe misdemeanors or even felony offenses, meaning you would have a permanent criminal record.

If you have any prior traffic violation convictions when faced with a new ticket, the crime may be tried and sentenced more harshly. For example, if you have two or more prior DWI convictions within the past seven years when subsequently charged, your traffic violation can be considered a felony.


Q: What Is the Most Likely Punishment for a Traffic Violation?

A: The most likely punishments that follow a traffic violation conviction can vary depending on the specific violations committed and their severity. However, the majority of traffic offenses will include paying a fine as a monetary penalty. Many traffic citations will also result in a license suspension and/or points added to your driving record.

Q: What Traffic Violations Are Misdemeanors in NC?

A: Misdemeanor traffic violations in NC include speeding more than 15 mph over the local limit or above 80 mph anywhere, driving with a revoked license, some cases of driving while impaired by alcohol or other substances, and some death by motor vehicle offenses.

DWI charges can be misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances. Cases of vehicular manslaughter can also be deemed misdemeanor or felony crimes, depending on if the defendant was also guilty of DWI.

Q: What Are Minor Traffic Violations in NC?

A: Minor traffic violations in North Carolina are lesser offenses that have lighter punishments than more serious violations, such as a DWI. These minor infractions typically entail paying a fine and some points on your driving record. Some examples include failure to yield, tailgating, and driving without valid registration or driver’s insurance.

Q: Which Violation Carries the Most Points Against Your License in NC?

A: Hit-and-runs and DWIs carry the most points against your license and driving record in NC. Committing a hit-and-run has the potential to add many points to your driving record, depending on the exact crimes you are convicted of (e.g., failure to contact law enforcement, failure to stop, etc.). Driving while impaired/intoxicated is likely the criminal offense to have the highest point assignment.

Don’t Ignore or Accept Your Traffic Ticket – a Defense Lawyer Can Fight It for You

Whether you can’t afford to pay your traffic ticket or were accused of a violation you didn’t commit, speak with an attorney at Cody Law Firm. Our team of legal professionals has dealt with numerous cases of fighting traffic tickets and is ready to help with your case. We understand the weight of the impact that a traffic violation can have on your life. Talk with us today so that we can begin your defense case earlier rather than later.

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