North Carolina Traffic Law FAQs

(With Answers From an Experienced Charlotte Traffic Attorney)



No, we don't think many of you spend your free time looking up North Carolina traffic laws just for fun. But we do think there are plenty of traffic laws that are hard to understand, not commonly known, or are simply in the "I wonder if…" category. Or maybe you got a speeding ticket, a DWI, or some other traffic ticket and you need a Charlotte traffic lawyer. Or you could just be just curious about other traffic laws. Whatever the reason for your questions, we've got the answers.

What's New: North Carolina Traffic Law Q&A

Traffic laws in North Carolina can change without much notice and this could leave you and other drivers unaware of the rules of the road. From technology like smartphones to privacy issues like identity theft, traffic law has to keep up with the times to keep our highways safe for everyone.

Do you need a REAL ID in North Carolina or just a driver's license? Thanks to threats to our nation's security, Homeland Security enacted the REAL ID Act to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. Federal agencies will enforce the Act beginning October 1, 2020. If you plan on traveling by air, visiting military bases, visiting federal courthouses and other federal facilities, you're going to need a driver's license or ID that is REAL ID compliant.

Does North Carolina have a "hands-free" law? Yes and no. The pending House Bill H144, or The Hands Free NC Act, if passed, would ban all use of hand-held cell phones while driving in North Carolina. Currently, there is no ban on handheld phones or hands-free phones for adults age 18 and older, but minors are prohibited from using any devices while driving. But texting or emailing using an electronic device while driving is already illegal in North Carolina.

How often do you have to renew your license plate in North Carolina? As of July, 2020, North Carolina drivers must replace their license plates. Before 2020, your license plate was good for as long as it lasted and you simply put an updated sticker on it. 


North Carolina Traffic Law Questions That Come Up Over and Over

Does "Improper Equipment" show up on a driving record? Every traffic violation defendant's favorite go-to reduction for traffic tickets in North Carolina, Improper Equipment does show on your driving record but does not accrue points or affect your insurance rates. If you're shooting for an Improper Equipment reduction in Charlotte, you better have a pretty clean driving record or a good traffic attorney!

Is it illegal to change lanes in an intersection? It may not be illegal in North Carolina to change lanes in an intersection, but it is certainly unsafe. According to the North Carolina Driver Handbook, "Places where passing is always unsafe and usually illegal: • At intersections in cities and towns or at railroad crossings." No, not a definitive answer, but good enough. Putting yourself in danger is worse than getting a ticket, so don't change lanes in intersections!

What is the speed limit in North Carolina when no signs are posted? The answer to this one is a bit complicated because North Carolina has a "basic speeding law" and "absolute limits." The basic speeding law states: "Driving at a speed that is greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.” The absolute speed limits are 25 mph inside municipal corporate limits, 55 outside municipal corporate limits, and 70 on interstate highways. Not much help? Well, the rules are the rules.

Thank goodness there's an experienced traffic attorney who can help you "translate" the often vague traffic laws and give you the best chance for minimizing or even dismissing your speeding ticket. Call The Law Offices of Jason H. Reece in Charlotte at 704-714-8888 or fill out this contact form for a free consultation.