Reckless Driving

Reckless Driving Definition 

Reckless driving is when an individual, drives with willful or wanton disregard for the safety or operation of the vehicle and its consequences on people or property. When an individual is cited with a traffic offense, it is traditionally classified as merely showing a disregard for the rules of the road. What escalates a traffic offense to reckless driving is that a law enforcement officer has to see evidence of more than just negligence. 

How Is Reckless Driving Defined by the States? 

Each state has a different definition of what constitutes reckless driving. Many state statutes can call this offense "reckless driving," "dangerous driving," or "careless driving." Usually, reckless driving is classified as a misdemeanor offense and can have penalties such as hefty fines or incarceration in severe cases. It is essential to avoid reckless driving offenses as much as possible. Depending on the state, offenses such as these are automatically considered reckless driving offenses:

  • Racing another vehicle.
  • Driving more than 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit
  • On a two-lane highway, passing another vehicle when oncoming traffic is not present.
  • Trying to elude a law enforcement officer. 

What Are the Factors Courts Consider for Reckless Driving Charges? 

Courts take into consideration many different factors when trying to decide whether a driver is guilty of a reckless driving-related offense. The factors that courts typically take into consideration are: 

  • Weather conditions.
  • The time of day and whether the driver's driving was dangerous. 
  • The driver's act was beyond mere negligence.
  • The presence of other individuals. 

What Are the Typical Consequences of Reckless Driving? 

The most important factor when trying to understand punishments for reckless driving is to figure out whether the individual state treats the offense as a misdemeanor or a felony. Some of the most common consequence of reckless driving are: 

  • The driver will be put on probation.
  • The driver may have a criminal record.
  • A reckless driving charge will go on the driver's record.
  • The driver may have their driving privileges suspended.
  • Jail time of up to one year may be assigned to the driver.
  • Fines can be required that are up to $2,500 depending on the state's laws

What If I am a Minor? 

The general rule of thumb with minors and any traffic violations is that law enforcement officers are strict. Many states have legislation that treats minor cases seriously in terms of revoking driving privileges. For example, if a minor was going 50 miles per hour over the speed limit and caused severe damage, they could have their license suspended for negligent behavior. Minors have to be very careful to not give in to peer pressure while they are driving and make smart choices. Minors have to remember that as quickly as they received their driver’s license, it can also be taken away. If a minor is convicted of a reckless driving expense, they will likely face a license suspension, but will also see an increase in their cost of auto insurance since they will be classified as a driver with a higher risk. 

Should I Consult with an Attorney? 

There are many attorneys that specialize in dealing with cases related to traffic violations. It is crucial to find the right attorney with knowledge of your local state's traffic laws that can help advise you on the best possible actions to take. Ultimately, you do not want to have a suspended license or costly auto insurance. By working with an attorney with knowledge of traffic violation-related offenses, you will be able to have a more successful outcome of your case. 

Reckless Driving Glossary Definition

Reckless driving of a vehicle occurs when the driver drives at a speed or in a manner that shows a complete disregard for the safety of persons or property. A reckless driver is entirely aware that they are breaking the rules; however, they choose to do so in spite of knowing the rules. Reckless driving is not desirable to have on your driving record, particularly if you are attempting to change your auto insurance policy or if you are pulled over for subsequent tickets. Law enforcement officers do not take kindly to repeat offenders of traffic violations after a prior reckless driving offense.