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North Carolina Traffic Laws

Residents and out-of-state drivers must follow North Carolina driving laws and local ordinances. Driving in busy metropolitan areas like Raleigh and Charlotte may require extra care.

Being a safe driver is more than just following the posted speed limit and yielding to the right of way. You may have to make quick decisions to stay safe behind the wheel. Use the laws and resources in this article to keep yourself and others on North Carolina roads safe and avoid costly citations.

Brush up on the North Carolina rules of the road with the North Carolina Driver's Handbooks.

Chapter 20 Motor Vehicles of North Carolina General Statutes outlines the specifics of the state's traffic laws.

The manuals and motor vehicle code above go in-depth on several topics, including:

  • Basic driving laws, like who has the right-of-way, left turns, and coming to a complete stop at a stop sign
  • Following too closely, also called North Carolina's “two-second rule"
  • Speed limits for varying roadways, including highways, private roads, and residential areas
  • Special rules for construction areas, school zones, and railroad crossings
  • Crossing paths with an authorized emergency vehicle or school bus
  • Restrictions on cell phone usage and text messaging while driving
  • Serious traffic offenses, like driving under the influence (DUI/DWI), hit and run, and reckless driving
  • Offense classification for traffic violations, like infraction, misdemeanor, or felony
  • The state's driver's license points system and how traffic violations affect your driving record

Other Resources for North Carolina Drivers

The North Carolina Department of Transportation issues vehicle registration and license plates. The Traffic and Travel section on the website offers real-time traffic conditions, severe weather updates, and roadside assistance information.

Motorists can call the state's 511 Information Line for the latest road conditions, crashes, closures, and construction updates.

The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offers several online services. Some of these include:

  • Driver licensing
  • Liability insurance information
  • Vehicle property tax estimation
  • Permanent disability placard renewal

Table of North Carolina Traffic Laws

Find the specific statutes for common traffic offenses and guidelines in the table below.


Drinking & Driving Violations Impaired driving (NCGS section 20-138.1)
Driving Without a License / With a Suspended License Issuance and renewal of drivers licenses (NCGS section 20-7)
Driving Without Insurance / With Insufficient Insurance Motor Vehicle Safety and Financial Responsibility Act (NCGS Ch. 20, Article 9A)
Driving Without Registration / With Expired Registration Owner to secure registration and certificate of title (NCGS section 20-50)
Illegal U-Turn Turning at intersections (NCGS section 20-153)
Leaving the Scene of an Accident / Hit & Run Duty to stop in event of accident or collision (NCGS section 20-166)
Mechanical Violations Motor Vehicle Act: Equipment (NCGS Ch. 20, Article 3 scroll to sections 20-122 to 20-137)
Reckless Driving Reckless driving (NCGS section 20-140)
Running a Red Light / Stop Sign Vehicle control signs and signals (NCGS section 20-158)
Seat Belt / Child Restraint Violations Seat belt use mandatory (NCGS section 20-135.2A) Child restraint systems required (NCGS section 20-137.1)
Speeding Speed restrictions (NCGS section 20-141)
Unlawful Vehicle Modifications Motor Vehicle Act: Equipment (NCGS Ch. 20, Article 3 scroll to sections 20-122 to 20-137)

Ticketed for Moving Violation or Other Traffic Offense? Get Legal Help

Consequences of a traffic citation can include costly fines, driver's license points, and increased rates from your insurance company. Depending on the offense and your driving record, you could also face restrictions on your driving privileges, including suspension and revocation.

If a North Carolina law enforcement officer has cited you for a traffic violation, you can talk to a local traffic law attorney. An experienced attorney can review the specifics of your traffic ticket and help review your defense options.

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