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.”
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
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
- 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
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.
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.