Reckless driving is treated as a serious traffic offense in most states. While each state defines reckless driving differently, most consider it to be driving in a manner that displays a wanton disregard for the safety of other people on the road. If you receive a reckless driving ticket then you will likely face serious penalties, with even prison being a possibility in many states. Furthermore, your reckless driving conviction will appear on your driving record and may cause you problems when it comes to insurance, renting a car, or applying for certain jobs.
Reckless driving is usually considered a traffic, as opposed to a criminal, violation. In most states, reckless driving is treated as a major violation more on the level of a DUI than a ticket for speeding or running a red light. In a handful of jurisdictions reckless driving may also be referred to as careless driving or driving without due care, although generally these are separate and less serious offenses. When you get a reckless driving citation it goes on your driving record for a set number of years and becomes a matter of public record. That means you can search for your or another person’s previous reckless driving charge either by contacting your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or checking with a 3rd party database, such as SearchQuarry.com.
How reckless driving is defined depends on the state where you receive your reckless driving ticket. Many states broadly define it as driving that is aggressive or that displays a disregard for the safety of one’s passengers, other motorists, and other users of the road. In some states, a specific list of actions are defined as reckless driving. In Virginia, for example, reckless driving is defined as, among other actions, driving in excess of 80 mph, driving 20 mph over the speed limit, racing, passing an emergency vehicle or school bus, and so on.
The penalty for reckless driving usually depends on a number of circumstances. A fine is generally the minimum reckless driving penalty you will receive, with points on your record and even a license suspension also possible. If this is your second offense then you could be facing jail time, which can range from a few days to up to a year. Also, certain factors may result in an even higher penalty, including a criminal record, such as if you had a child in the vehicle when you were charged with reckless driving or if your reckless driving resulted in an accident that caused bodily harm or death to another person.
The ticket itself may only cost a couple hundred dollars, but there are other costs associated with reckless driving that may not be apparent upfront. States often apply points to your driving record for this offense and if you accumulate enough points then you could lose your license. In California, for example, reckless driving will result in two demerit points; in Virginia, meanwhile, it is a six-point offense. Reckless driving ticket points will cause your insurance premiums to go up and, if your license is suspended, then you will have to pay a fee to get it reinstated. Also, renting a car when you have a reckless driving citation on your record is extremely difficult. If you are applying for a job that requires a lot of driving then you may be disqualified from the position. The length of time a reckless driving charge stays on your record depends on the state. In Virginia, for example, a conviction for reckless driving will generally stay on your record for 11 years.
Reckless driving costs more than just an annoying fine. As you can see above, if you receive a citation for reckless driving then you may face a long list of penalties and hassles, including demerit points, license suspension, higher insurance premiums, and more. if you are unsure of whether a prior reckless driving conviction is still causing you headaches then you can check your driving record online to find out.