Reckless driving is the driving of a vehicle at a speed or in a manner that shows an utter disregard for the safety of persons or property. In other words, a reckless driver knows that he is driving dangerously but chooses to do so despite the risk. Depending on what state you live in, reckless driving is either a misdemeanor criminal offense or a misdemeanor traffic offense.

Depending on what state you live in, reckless driving is either a misdemeanor criminal offense or a misdemeanor traffic offense. Some states call the violation of reckless driving as “careless driving.”

What Are the Factors Reckless Driving?

Courts weigh in a number of factors to determine whether the driver was driving in a reckless manner. This includes:

  • The time of day and whether the drivers driving was safe
  • Weather conditions
  • The presence of other people
  • The driver’s act was beyond mere negligence

Common Types of Reckless Driving

Although state laws vary in defining reckless driving, some common examples of reckless driving include:

  • Speeding excessively of over 25 miles over the posted speed limit
  • Tailgating
  • Illegal passing (for example, passing on a curve or using the opposing traffic lane to pass)
  • Weaving through traffic
  • Ignoring traffic signs and signals
  • Driving a vehicle known to have faulty brakes or other dangerous flaws
  • Racing other cars
  • Escaping from a police officer after a traffic stop

Consequences of Reckless Driving

Depending on whether a state considers reckless driving to be a misdemeanor criminal offense or a misdemeanor traffic offense, penalties for reckless driving can be fairly severe. Some of the possible consequences include:

  • The reckless driving charge will go on your driving record
  • You will have a criminal record
  • You may be put on probation
  • Your driving privileges may be suspended
  • You may have to pay fines of up to $2,500 depending on your state's laws
  • You may face jail time of up to one year

The severity of your penalties will depend primarily on your state's laws and your prior driving history.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Reckless Driving Charges?

If your state classifies reckless driving as a criminal offense, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible. Even if your state classifies reckless driving as a driving offense, you can still benefit from the aid of a lawyer. A criminal defense attorney can represent you in court, negotiate a plea bargain, or seek to lower your fines or jail time.