Driving recklessly, also known as reckless driving, means the driver is driving with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others, and a willful disregard of consequences. Reckless driving is a traffic offense that may or may not have caused property damage or an accident, and it is frequently associated with other offenses such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, street racing, and gross disregard for other traffic laws.

When a driver is negligent in maintaining reasonable control of the vehicle, she is driving recklessly. However, mere negligence without wanton disregard of safety or consequences in the the operation of a vehicle, is not enough to establish recklessness.

What are Some Forms of Driving Recklessly?

A charge of reckless driving is a more serious offense than a charge of careless driving or distracted driving. The difference is that reckless driving involves a level of intent in the disregard of the law, whereas careless and distracted driving is not necessarily intentional. Drivers who exhibit any of the following behaviors may be considered to be driving recklessly:

  • Drag racing or street racing (exhibition of speed);
  • Ghost-riding, which is allowing a car to roll away without a driver;
  • Performing tricks or stunts with a motorcycle or car. For instance, drifting, handstands, wheelies, or car surfing;
  • Stopping suddenly and without warning in moving traffic;
  • Running red lights, joyriding, and going over 25mph over the speed limit;
  • Trying to elude a police officer; and/or
  • On a two-lane highway, passing a vehicle when visibility is limited.

If a driver is using his car in a threatening manner, like that of a weapon, the court will usually treat this type of act more seriously, by classifying it as a crime of assault or felony assault.

What are Some Consequences with Driving Recklessly?

Driving recklessly can carry with it serious traffic and criminal charges. Penalties range, and depending on the state, may include:

  • Traffic fines;
  • Criminal misdemeanor or felony criminal record;
  • Probation; and/or
  • Incarceration.

In situations where serious bodily injury occurs as a result of reckless driving, a charge of aggravated reckless driving is possible, and may result in a class 4 felony.

Additionally, victims of reckless driving are entitled to file a lawsuit against the driver who caused harm or property damages. Civil lawsuits can be quite expensive and may affect an individual for years to come.

States vary in their traffic laws and penalties, which is why a consultation with an attorney is beneficial. Defenses to driving recklessly may include: avoiding harm or damage to others, unavoidable emergencies, or involuntary intoxication.

Do I Need an Attorney for Assistance with Driving Recklessly Charges?

If you have been charged with driving recklessly, contact an attorney immediately. An experienced criminal defense attorney in your area will advise you of your rights and options, prepare your defense, and will also represent you in court. Driving recklessly is a serious charge, and having a lawyer on your side can be extremely useful.