Is Speeding a Misdemeanor in NC?


A speeding ticket can be more than just a nuisance when it becomes a misdemeanor. It can affect your credit rating, add points to your driving record, put points on your insurance, and cause your insurance rate to go up. These are harsh consequences but, if your violation is serious enough, you can even have your driver’s license revoked. A misdemeanor can be on your record for life. 

Because of these potential consequences, you should hire an experienced speeding ticket attorney to help you construct a strategy to have the charges either dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense. At Coolidge Law Firm, we assist clients routinely in building a case with the intent of reducing speeding ticket charges. 

What is the Difference Between an Infraction and a Misdemeanor?

An infraction is less serious than a misdemeanor. Infractions can typically be paid off and don’t require you to appear in court, though you can come to court and contest the charge. A misdemeanor requires you to appear in court on a specified date.

Misdemeanors are crimes that are more serious than an infraction and less serious than a felony. The federal criminal code and the criminal laws of every state categorize crimes into two levels–felonies and misdemeanors. A misdemeanor can carry a punishment of up to a year or less in county jail, whereas a felony punishment can involve state prison. The least serious misdemeanors are classified as Class C or Level Three. One of these types of misdemeanors can result in fines and jail time, and may also offer the chance of probation.

A misdemeanor stays on your record for life unless you are successful in a petition for expungement. Expungement means that the crime is permanently taken off of your record. 

When Does a Speeding Ticket Become a Misdemeanor?

A speeding ticket in NC can be either an infraction or a misdemeanor depending on the speed you are stopped at. A speed that is 15 mph over the speed limit or a speed that is 80 mph or more are both considered Class C (Level 3) misdemeanors. You can also be charged with a careless and reckless misdemeanor, which is Level 2 misdemeanor, if the speed is especially high. All other speeding violations are infractions.

If your speed is high enough, you can have your license suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Additionally, you will need a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC) in order to avoid your insurance rate increasing significantly. A PJC is a deferred judgment that allows you to avoid court fines and a statutory insurance increase. It doesn’t avoid court costs, only fines. You can use a PJC every two years for court purposes and every three years per household for insurance purposes. It is advised to not use a PJC without consulting a traffic attorney first.

What are Common Speeding Violations?

There are several speeding ticket violations in NC that you can be charged with.

Speeding Above the Posted Speed Limit

In NC even when there is no posted speed limit, the speed limit is 35 mph in a municipality, 55 mph outside a municipality, and 70 mph on a highway.  A speeding ticket for driving 15 mph over the posted speed limit or faster than 80 mph is a Class C misdemeanor.

Speeding Below the Posted Speed Limit

Driving on an interstate highway at less than 40 mph with a posted speed limit of 55 mph or less than 45 mph on a road with a speed limit of 60 mph or greater is a violation in NC.

Speeding in a Work Zone

The fine for speeding in a work zone is $250, otherwise, it is treated the same as speeding outside of a work zone.

Speeding in a School Zone

NC prosecutors take speeding in a school zone very seriously. A school zone can be set by a sign or an electronic flasher. The fine for speeding in a school zone is $250. If you are convicted of speeding it will include insurance points.

Speed Competition

Speed competition is unlawful racing. If the race has been pre-arranged, then it carries a Class 1 misdemeanor. A misdemeanor of this type has penalties that include a three-year driver’s license suspension and a possible seizure of the vehicle involved. If a competition was not pre-arranged, then the misdemeanor is a Class 2, which can result in a year suspension of your driver’s license.

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is a very broad category, which can include driving carelessly regarding the safety of others or driving at a speed or in a way that could endanger others. You can be charged with this in addition to a speeding ticket. Reckless driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor. It can include penalties of up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Contact Us if You are Charged with a Misdemeanor Speeding Ticket in Raleigh

If you have been charged with speeding, contact our team of skilled Raleigh speeding defense attorneys at Coolidge Law Firm. Our attorneys are experienced with the traffic court process in NC. Let us help you develop a strategy for lessening the impact of the misdemeanor. We will work to get the best possible outcome in your case. We serve Raleigh, Cary, Garner, Wake Forest, Durham, and surrounding areas. Call us at (919) 239-8448 or fill out the form below for a free consultation.

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    I can not say enough good about David Coolidge and the Law Firm! From the moment of our 1st interaction, I could tell that David TRULY cares and has a passion about the cases he takes on. I was anxious and nervous about my case from the beginning. David immediately showed his support and listened with an empathetic ear. From that moment on, I felt as though I knew I could trust him to put his whole heart into helping me with my case. He is intelligent, kind and completely nonjudgmental. He will listen to you and is so very supportive. I really felt, and still do, that he really cared about helping me. His passion for his work and in helping others shines. We VERY HAPPILY, had a GREAT outcome from the case and I could not be happier. As I told him when we left the court room that morning... “David, you have changed my life forever”. I would recommend David and this Law Firm to EVERYONE who is reading this review.
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    David Coolidge is a wonderful attorney! I hired him twice for two different cases that I had which were only 2 months apart. He's very thorough and efficient. I was even able to reach him after hours through phone calls, texts, and email. Hopefully I never need his services again but if I am in a similar predicament I would most definitely hire David again.
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    Excellent Customer Service. I had a Speeding ticket and they resolved it positively with no points on my Driver License. They represented me in Court and by midday on the Court date, they had updated me on the outcome. Very efficient service. I highly recommend them if you are in need of Legal Services.
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    I got a speeding ticket for going 17 over. They sent me a letter in the mail explaining that I could plead improper equipment and get no points on my insurance or license. They even gave me the fees straight out on the letter including court costs. They represented me and made the ticket go away.
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