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The following is for informational purposes only

What is Reckless Driving?


Reckless Driving is a moving traffic violation defined by intentionally driving while displaying a wanton disregard for public safety and common driving rules. As a result, the driver causes wrecks, accidents, injuries or property damage. In general, Reckless Driving, by being more than mere negligence, is a more serious crime than “driving without due care and attention” or “improper driving”. A few examples would be escaping from the police after a traffic stop, ignoring signals and traffic signs, texting and driving.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident, someone charged with Reckless Driving might be charged with additional offenses, such as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), hit-and-run,  vehicular assault, street racing, and speeding. Each added conviction carries extra substantial penalties, fees and jail time.


Challenging a Reckless Driving Charge

Here are some legitimate procedural and legal arguments to contesta Reckless Driving charge:

  • Radar/LIDAR Calibrations – faulty calibration precision of the device used for measuring the speed;
  • Speed Limit – the prosecutor couldn’t prove the speed limit related to the Reckless Driving violation;
  • Wrong Driver – in case of a stolen identity or if the driver was mistaken for someone else;
  • Wrong Jurisdiction – when the police officer is from another area, or when the road is private property, not a “highway”.

Ways to Reduce “Reckless Driving” Charges

A Reckless Driving can be reduced to “improper driving” if the reckless driving degree is “slight”, and it is based on inattentiveness or carelessness. The penalty for improper driving is less harsh and it just involves a fine and up to three DMV points that will stay on the driving record for three years. Another way around this is having the charge reduced to a speeding ticket – meaning a fine and four DMV points kept on the record for five years – punishment is tougher than in case of an improper driving, still, it’s less severe than for a Reckless Driving conviction.


Driving Recklessly vs. Driving Carelessly

Although state laws differ when defining the two, careless driving is essentially a less hazardousform of Reckless Driving that implies driving without due caution. In other words - operating a motor vehicle in a way that puts people or property in danger. Driving Carelessly means the driver is not paying attention and ends up running a red light, swerving, distracted driving, failing to use a turn signal, speeding, riding too close to other vehicles, carelessly overtaking, among others. Careless Driving convictions add two points to a driver’s driving record and resultin a fine.

Reckless Driving, on the other hand, include stailgating, speeding excessively of over 25 miles over the speed limit indicated, weaving through traffic, operating moving vehicles known to have dangerous flaws or faulty brakes or racing, illegal passing on a curve or by using the opposing traffic lane and passing a stationary school bus.


Reckless Driving: Felony vs. Misdemeanor

Whether Reckless Driving is a felony or a misdemeanor depends on the circumstances of the offense and the state law. For instance, in some states, a Reckless Driving charge is increased to a felony in any of the following situations:

  • While engaged in a race, the driver injured or killed someone who wasn’t taking part;
  • The driver causes severe injuries or the death of another person;
  • The driver did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the arrest (it could have been revoked or suspended for a previous moving traffic violation).

Jail Time for Reckless Driving

The punishment for Reckless Driving could include jail time. Depending on the circumstances, if the Reckless Driving offense is qualified as a misdemeanor, the driver could serve up to twelve months in jail, on top of other penalties, probation, demerit points on the driving record and license suspension. If it is considered a felony, it means prison time for at least one year. For instance in Virginia, if someone not involved in a drag race is killed, the guilty driver could face a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.


Reckless Driving between Criminal Charges and Driving Infractions

Driving infractions only carry administrative penalties, whereas criminal charges lead to a criminal record. Reckless Drivingis usually considered a non-criminal infraction only for first-time offenders. The punishment does not include jail time nor criminal charges, just license suspension, possible fines, and demerit points added to the driving record. As an indirect consequence, insurance premiums will rise. When qualified as a misdemeanor or felony, Reckless Driving is a criminal traffic offense, punishable with higher fines, license revocation, and imprisonment.

It’s very important to be informed about someone’s previous or current Reckless Driving convictions. Our hassle-free driving records online lookup tool provides the best and most comfortable way to find out, while protected by anonymity.

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