Reckless driving: More than negligent acts

It was early in the morning, and you didn't think much about speeding down the highway. Your speed got away from you as you focused on what you needed to do when you got to work. Lights and sirens blared behind you, and you slowed down. Unfortunately, you were traveling so fast that the officer accused you of driving recklessly.

Reckless driving is a traffic offense that can lead to serious consequences. A reckless driver could cause a serious crash or hurt him or herself. Drivers who make a mistake aren't considered reckless automatically. Reckless drivers are those who willfully disregard the rules. In your situation, it might seem like you were disregarding the speed limit or being flippant, when it truth, you simply weren't paying attention.

To be cited for reckless driving, a person has to show that he or she is disregarding the rules of the road intentionally. Negligence alone isn't enough for this charge to result in a conviction. For instance, negligently speeding 5 mph over the speed limit isn't necessarily reckless. However, driving 25 to 30 mph over the speed limit is clearly wrong and reckless behavior.

Other possible reckless behaviors include drag racing or racing other vehicles, attempting to evade a police officer or attempting to pass a vehicle on a two-lane highway when there isn't enough time to do so or visibility is limited.

The reason reckless behaviors are heavily penalized is because the drivers involved in those behaviors aren't concerned about their well-being or the well-being of others on the roads. Penalties generally range from fines to incarceration. Normally, reckless behavior is charged as a misdemeanor, not a traffic infraction.

Source: FindLaw, "Reckless Driving," accessed Oct. 19, 2017

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