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What is the Difference Between Aggressive and Reckless Driving in North Carolina?

Aggressive and reckless driving are both serious traffic offenses in North Carolina, but they have distinct legal definitions and consequences. Understanding the differences between these two types of driving behaviors can help individuals facing charges navigate the legal system and make informed decisions about their cases.

Aggressive Driving

According to North Carolina statute 20-141.6, aggressive driving is defined as operating a vehicle "in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property." Essentially, an aggressive driver is driving in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.


Aggressive driving includes behaviors such as running red lights, tailgating, failing to yield the right of way, and making improper lane changes. It is important to note that a driver must have committed at least two of these traffic offenses before they can be slapped with an aggressive driving charge.


In addition to committing two of the above offenses, they must also have exceeded the speed limit to attract an aggressive driving charge.

Reckless Driving

North Carolina statute 20-140 defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle "carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others." This can include behaviors such as excessive speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, and running red lights or stop signs.


A single offense is enough to bag you a reckless driving charge.

Penalties for Reckless and Aggressive Driving in NC

Reckless Driving

In North Carolina, reckless driving is classified as a Class 2 misdemeanor. Penalties for reckless driving include fines, court costs, and the possibility of up to 60 days in jail. The fines for reckless driving can be up to $1,000. Additionally, a person convicted of reckless driving may be ordered to perform community service.

Aggressive Driving

In North Carolina, aggressive driving is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Penalties for aggressive driving are similar to those for reckless driving, including fines, court costs, and the possibility of up to 120 days in jail. The fines for driving aggressively do not have a set amount. Instead, it is up to the judge to decide how much to charge. Community service may also be ordered for aggressive driving convictions.


In both cases, depending on whether or not it is a repeat offense, the judge may give a harsher penalty. Also, if someone is injured or killed as a result of reckless or aggressive driving, the penalties are likely to be more severe.

Speak to a North Carolina Traffic Tickets Defense Attorney

It is important to note that a conviction for reckless or aggressive driving can also result in points being added to your driver's license, which can lead to higher insurance rates and the possibility of losing your license. So, if you have been charged with reckless or aggressive driving in North Carolina, it is essential to consult with our experienced attorneys, who can help you understand your rights and options. We will work to get your charges reduced or dismissed.


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