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Speeding vs. Street Racing in North Carolina: What is the Difference?

Street racing and speeding often go hand in hand. If you were stopped by police while racing, you face a range of potential penalties – including street racing charges and speeding charges. These are two separate offenses in North Carolina, and they have markedly different penalties. After facing one or both of these charges, it makes sense to learn more about them alongside an experienced North Carolina speeding lawyer. 


Penalties for Speeding in North Carolina


Speeding is not a criminal offense unless you exceed a certain speed threshold. Traveling a few miles over the limit can result in a low fine while driving 15 mph over the limit can trigger criminal charges. This is a misdemeanor in North Carolina with a maximum jail sentence of 20 days. 


Penalties for Street Racing in North Carolina


Street racing is a more serious charge in North Carolina – and you may face either a Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanor. If you are convicted of a Class 2 misdemeanor, you face up to two months in jail. If you are convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor, you face up to 120 days in jail. Spontaneous races typically lead to Class 2 misdemeanors, while pre-planned races generally lead to Class 1 misdemeanors. 


You Can Face Both Charges in North Carolina


Although speeding and street racing lead to different penalties in North Carolina, you may face consequences for both. If you participated in a street race, there is a strong chance that you were also breaking the speed limit. In fact, there is a relatively strong chance you were traveling 15 mph over the speed limit. 


However, you do not necessarily need to break the speed limit to face consequences for street racing in North Carolina. Technically speaking, prosecutors can charge you for street racing even if you are below the speed limit. The only requirement is that you willfully engage in a “speed competition.” North Carolina’s street racing laws do not mention a specific speed threshold. In fact, the most severe penalties are reserved for those who plan street racing events ahead of time – not those who break speed limits.  


Furthermore, North Carolina has laws against “street takeovers” that do not involve racing. These events focus more on stunts and daring maneuvers, such as burnouts and drifting. Even if you are not racing against anyone, you could still face a misdemeanor for street takeovers in North Carolina, thanks to a new law passed in 2023. 


Find an Experienced Traffic Defense Lawyer in North Carolina


If you have been searching for an experienced traffic defense lawyer in North Carolina, look no further than Coastal South Law. Over the years, we have helped many people fight speeding tickets and similar charges in the Tar Heel State. With our help, you can learn more about your charges and develop effective defense strategies. Reach out today to get started. 


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