Is Reckless Driving A Criminal Offense?

Reckless driving is defined as a major moving traffic violation. Categorised as a more severe crime than careless driving, reckless driving is when a vehicle is driven with general disregard for the safety of the driver, the vehicle’s passengers, other people and property.

Needless to say it is classed as a criminal offense, but what does this mean? And how is your record affected if charged? Reckless driving may seem exciting and thrilling but the damage and hurt it can cause is not worth the risk.

With the statistics for reckless driving increasing year on year and currently the cause of 33% of all motor deaths in America for the past year, it cannot be stated enough that reckless driving destroys lives. 

We’ll be discussing everything you need to know about reckless driving and the consequences starting with what reckless driving actually means, what happens when you’re charged and concluding with the aftermath once that charge is carried out.

There are approximately 13,000 deaths due to reckless driving every year which is a hugely shocking figure which is why in this article, we have answered those questions that you’ve been looking for and hopefully understand why it is not an activity worth doing. 

What is reckless driving?

As mentioned above, reckless driving is when a driver is knowingly disregarding the safety of themselves and others on the road. Punishable by fines and even prison sentences, reckless driving is a term only used in the United States and has been widely studied by psychologists.

Those who are charged with reckless driving tend to be high risk-takers. Depending on what state you are in, the punishments will vary as each state contains different clauses.

Reckless driving is counted as a misdemeanor meaning that it isn’t in the higher felony category that includes murder, rape and kidnapping. Naturally, if someone were to unfortunately die as a result of your reckless driving then you would be charged with a felony and facing a higher penalty and most likely prison time.

As stated earlier in the article, the amount of people who are injured and killed due to reckless driving is staggering and for those people, you will have to pay fines for the state and the families of those killed and any medical bills for the injured.

 It is a financial, professional and personal risk that outweighs any excitement you may initially feel at the prospect of reckless driving.

What happens when you are charged

As reckless driving is a misdemeanor, the trial shouldn’t take too long and usually the defendant will enter a guilty plea as they know they don’t have a strong case. However, it is completely dependent on the damage done because of reckless driving.

Someone who was caught driving recklessly is more likely to receive a fine if they didn’t hurt anyone or damage any property, whereas someone who caused a lot of property damage and hurt people is most likely to get prison time as well as extra charges added on top of the reckless driving charge.

Once the fine has been paid then you are good to go but be aware that you may have built a bit of a reputation locally so it’s important to do good in your community to build back the trust. Being able to show that you are willing to turn a new leaf is the first step in winning back that trust.

A lot of people charged with reckless driving may also be required to seek counselling to see if there are any underlying issues that may have resulted in the crime taking place.

What happens afterwards

After paying your fine or serving time in prison, you’ll likely be banned from driving for a while, if not permanently.

If you are allowed to drive afterwards, you will experience massive increases to your insurance premium and if you were previously in a job that required a driving license, it is likely that you will lose the job due to company policy.

The charge will be listed on your criminal record for a maximum of 11 years which you will have to disclose when applying for jobs or anything finance related such as a mortgage or loans.

This isn’t to imply that you can’t do anything afterwards, there are many courses and resources that you can use to better yourself and the community in order to give back and build up your reputation. 

Can my charge be reduced?

Simply put, the answer is no. You cannot have your charge reduced to an infraction because it is listed under Vehicle Code 23103 as a misdemeanor.

The likelihood is, however, that if you have not caused any substantial damage and this is your first offence then you should only receive a basic fine and confiscation of license for a temporary period of time.

This being said, charges for reckless driving tend to be fines unless you are a repeat offender or being sentenced for other crimes on top of reckless driving.

Being charged with a fine will appear on your record which cannot be changed and you will have to carry out the punishment that you are handed but unless you have seriously damaged anyone or any property, you’ll be able to get back on your feet and start again.

As with any crime, reckless driving is not an activity worth your time. If you have previously been charged with reckless driving then look up local resources as there is an increase in businesses being set up to help people get back on your feet.

Hopefully, this article will have answered any burning questions you may have had and remember to drive safely and take care of yourself and others.


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