Trooper D.H. "David" Dees, 31, of Elizabeth City was on duty when the crash occurred.
Preliminary information indicates Dees may have just begun what officials termed an "enforcement action" when he lost control of the car and overturned at 12:40 a.m. The accident occurred on Trinkaloe Road (RP 1146), .3 miles southeast of Elizabeth City.
The car, an unmarked 1998 Ford Crown Victoria, came to rest upside-down off the right side of the highway.
The road is a two-lane, 45-mile-per-hour rural highway.
Dees had not radioed in that he was in enforcement mode, but the emergency strobe lights on his car had been activated.
The accident is under investigation.
Dees joined the highway patrol in 1995. A native of Laurinburg, Dees was a graduate of Wallace-Rose Hill High School. He and his wife, Pasquotank County Sheriff's Detective Donna Dees, have two sons and a daughter.
Dees is the 50th North Carolina State Trooper to die in the line of duty since the patrol was formed in 1929.
Funeral arrangements are pending.