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Reckless Driving Violations

Reckless Driving Violations


A person commits the offense of reckless driving if the person drives a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of people or property. The phrase “willful and wanton” means that the motorist showed deliberate and conscious indifference to the safety of others. The essence of reckless driving lies in the manner and circumstances of the vehicle’s operation, not merely in the act of operating a vehicle.


While simply driving under the influence of alcohol is not in itself sufficient for a reckless driving conviction, the fact that a motorist has been drinking is a factor that will be considered in determining guilt. Furthermore, although the speed of the vehicle alone will not always constitute reckless driving, it too is a factor in determining guilt. However, the mere happening of an accident does not lead to an inference of reckless driving. The prosecution must show that the motorist should have reasonably foreseen that death or injury might occur as a result of the motorist’s driving.


A motorist who falls asleep while driving on a public road is guilty of a degree of negligence exceeding the lack of ordinary care. To fall asleep while driving shows a motorist’s disregard for the consequences and has been found to be sufficient for a reckless driving conviction.


A conviction for reckless driving is a misdemeanor in most states. The penalties include fines, license suspensions, and jail time of up to one year. The sentences often vary depending upon whether anyone was injured due to the motorist’s actions. For example, in California a person convicted for a first offense of reckless driving where no one was injured is subject to imprisonment in a county jail for five to 90 days and/or or by a fine up to $1,000. However, a person convicted for a first offense of reckless driving where someone, other than the motorist, was injured is subject to imprisonment in a county jail for 30 days to six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Copyright 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.