North Carolina Traffic Laws - Rules of the Road

Beyond basic negligence laws, lawyers also look to North Carolina statutes and traffic laws to build evidence to establish fault and legal liability. The following are the most common traffic laws involved in North Carolina car accident cases:

  • Violation of N.C.G.S. 20-138 — Impaired Driving: A person commits the offense of impaired driving if he or she drives any vehicle while under the influence of an impairing substance or after having consumed sufficient alcohol that he or she has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. For commercial drivers, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration is .04 percent.
  • Violation of N.C.G.S. 20-140 — Reckless Driving: This statute forbids driving “without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property.”
  • Violation of N.C.G.S. 20-141 — Speed Restrictions: Speed is often a factor in car accidents. This statute requires all drivers to obey all posted limits and prohibits the driver from driving at a speed that is greater than “reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.” Thus, in rain or heavy traffic, speeding violations can occur even if the other driver is traveling within the posted limit.
  • Violation of N.C.G.S. 20-146 — Drive on Right Side of Roadway: This statute requires drivers to maintain their proper lane of travel, to avoid improper lane mergers, and to remain on the right side of any divided road/highway.
  • Violation of N.C.G.S. 20-148 — Meeting of Vehicles
    : This statute requires vehicles approaching in opposite directions to avoid crossing center.
  • Violation of N.C.G.S. 20-149 — Overtaking a Vehicle: This statute requires a vehicle that is passing another to leave two feet of space while passing and to return to the right side/lane only when there is sufficient room to do so. This statute also requires the vehicle being passed to yield to the passing vehicle and to maintain speed to allow the pass to occur.
  • Violation of N.C.G.S. 20-150 — Limitation on Privilege of Overtaking/Passing: The passing vehicle can initiate a pass only if the oncoming lane is clear, only when the curve or grade of the road allows visibility five hundred feet ahead, and never at double-yellow centerlines or railway crossings.
  • Violation of N.C.G.S. 20-151 — Driver to Give Way to Overtaking Vehicle: If a driver is being passed, he or she must not speed up or act in a way to prevent being overtaken.
  • Violation of N.C.G.S. 20-152 — Following Too Closely: This is the most common cause of rear-end collisions.
  • Violation of N.C.G.S. 20-153 — Turning at Intersections: This statute requires drivers turning right to remain as close to the right curb as possible and drivers turning left to yield to oncoming traffic and ensure that the turn can be made without interfering with the safe flow of traffic.
  • Violation of N.C.G.S. 20-154 — Signals on Starting, Stopping, or Turning: This statute requires a vehicle intending to turn to use visible turn signals and to maintain the visible signal for two hundred feet prior to the intended maneuver whenever the speed limit is forty-five miles per hour or greater. Cars that stop must have proper brake lights and signals as well.
  • Violation of N.C.G.S. 20-155 — Right of Way: Drivers turning left must yield and give the right of way to oncoming vehicles and to pedestrians in crosswalks. Drivers entering from a driveway, parking area, alley, or side street must yield before entering the adjacent roadway. If two vehicles approach an intersection from different roads at the same time, the driver to the left must yield to the driver to the right.
  • Violation of N.C.G.S. 20-158 — Vehicle Control Signs or Signals: If the other driver disobeyed any signs, painted lines, or traffic controls during the approach to your accident site, this statute provides the basis of legal liability.
  • Violation of N.C.G.S. 20-161 — Stopping on Highway Prohibited: This statute coupled with federal regulations prohibit stopping on the roadway and require disabled vehicles to be moved (when possible) or clearly identified with flares, reflective triangles, etc.
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