Reckless Driving Ticket: Everything You Need to Know

Reckless driving refers to the blatant disregard for other people’s safety and property while operating a vehicle and can include excessive speeding, street racing or illegally passing a school bus. If you’re convicted of reckless driving, you could face fines, jail time and points added to your driving record. Reckless driving convictions can stay on your driving record for three to 10 years but this may lessen if you attend a defensive driving course, fight the ticket or defer the ticket (if permitted by your state).

Read below to see what the specific consequences are for reckless driving where you live.

What Does Reckless Driving Mean?

Generally, reckless driving is the willful operation of a vehicle in a way that shows a lack of concern for the physical safety of people or property. The driver would need to be aware of the risk they are causing to other people and property.

At the state level, “per se” is used to qualify specific driving behaviors as reckless driving. Some of the more common forms of per se reckless driving would be extreme speeding (driving 20 miles over the speed limit), street racing or passing a school bus when its stop lights are flashing.

Reckless Driving Examples

Below are some examples of what state courts will consider reckless driving:

  • Excessive speeding (20 miles over the posted speed limit), especially in crowded areas
  • Driving unsafe vehicles
  • Illegally passing a school bus
  • Not using headlights at night
  • Peeling out
  • Street racing

Reckless driving is driving with a lack of concern for the physical safety of people or property.

What Happens if You Get a Reckless Driving Ticket?

Receiving a reckless driving ticket will add points to your driving record. You will also need to pay a fine and possibly face jail time depending on the severity of the infraction. Drivers may pay fines up to $15,000 depending on their state, the nature of the violation and where the reckless driving ticket was issued.

How Does Reckless Driving Differ From Other Traffic Violations?

The major difference between reckless driving and other traffic violations is the level of risk to other people’s safety. Reckless driving shows a higher disregard for the safety of others and property.

For example, a speeding ticket for illegally passing a school bus at 60 mph in a school zone would be considered reckless driving, but speeding just 5 or 10 mph over the posted limit on a regular street may be classified as a regular moving violation.

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How Much Is the Average Reckless Driving Ticket?

The cost of a reckless driving ticket can range from $5 to $15,000 and will vary by state, the egregiousness of the moving violation and whether it was a first or subsequent offense. Vermont enforces the highest fine for reckless driving at $15,000. Several states have a fine maximum for reckless driving (e.g., fines not to exceed $1,000).

Receiving a reckless driving ticket will add points to your driving record.

Reckless Driving Ticket: State-by-State Laws and Pricing

Below you will find a table showing the penalties for reckless driving by state.

State

Code

Penalty

Violation Type

AL

(AL Code Sec. 32-5A-190)

Imprisonment: First offense - 5 to 90 days; Subsequent offense - 10 days to 6 months

Fine: First offense - $25 to $500; Subsequent offense - $50 to $500

Misdemeanor

AK

(AK ST Sec. 28.35.400)

Imprisonment: Not more than 1 year

Fine: Not more than $1,000

Misdemeanor

AZ

(ARS 28-693)

Imprisonment: First offense (Class 2 misdemeanor) - Not more than 4 months; Second/subsequent offense within 24 months (Class 1 misdemeanor) - Not more than 6 months

Fine: First offense - Class 2 misdemeanor - Not more than $750; Second/subsequent offense (within 24 months) - Class 1 misdemeanor - Not more than $2,500

Class 2 misdemeanor for first violation; Class 1 misdemeanor for subsequent violation within 24 months

AR

(AR Code 27-50-308)

Imprisonment:

I. Non-injury-related offense: First offense - 5 to 90 days; Second/subsequent offense (within 3 years) - 30 days to 6 months

II. Injury-related offense: First offense - 30 to 90 days; Second/subsequent offense (within 3 years) - 60 days to 1 year

Fine:

I. Non-injury-related offense: First offense - $25 to $500; Second/subsequent offense (within 3 years) - $500 to $1,000

II. Injury-related offense: First offense - $100 to $1,000; Second/subsequent offense (within 3 years) - $500 to $1,000

Class B misdemeanor

CA

(CA Code Section 23103)

(CA Code Section 23104)

Imprisonment: 5 days to 90 days; or 30 days to 6 months with bodily injury

Fine: $145 to $1,000; or $220 to $1,000 with bodily injury

Misdemeanor

CO

N/A

Imprisonment: First offense - 10 to 90 days; Second/subsequent offense - 10 days to 6 months

Fine: First offense - $10 to $300; Second/subsequent offense - $50 to $1,000

Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense

CT

(GSC section 14-222)

Imprisonment: First offense - Not more than 30 days; Second/subsequent offense - Not more than 1 year.

Fine: First offense - $100 to $300; Second/subsequent offense - Not more than $600

Misdemeanor

DE

(DE Code Title 21 section 4175)

Imprisonment: First offense - 10 to 30 days; Subsequent offense (within 3 years) - 30 to 60 days.

Fine: First offense - $100 to $300; Second/subsequent offense (within 3 years) - $300 to $1,000

Misdemeanor

DC

(DC Code section 50-2201.04)

Imprisonment: First offense - Not more than 3 months. Second/subsequent offense (within 2 years) - Not more than 1 year

Fine: First offense - Not more than $250; Second/subsequent offense (within 2 years) - Not more than $1,000

Misdemeanor

FL

(FS 316.192)

Imprisonment: First offense - Not more than 90 days; Second/subsequent offense - Not more than 6 months

Fine: First offense - $25 to $500; Second/subsequent offense - $50 to $1,000

Misdemeanor (Moving Violation)

GA

(Georgia Code 40-6-390)

Imprisonment: Not more than 12 months

Fine: Not more than $1,000

Misdemeanor

HI

(HRS section 291-2)

Imprisonment: Not more than 30 days

Fine: Not more than $1,000

Petty misdemeanor

ID

(ID Statutes section 49-1401)

Imprisonment: First offense - 5 to 90 days; Second/subsequent offense - 10 days to 6 months

Fine: First offense - $25 to $300. Second/subsequent offense - $50 to $300

Misdemeanor

IL

N/A

Imprisonment: Not more than 1 year

Fine: Not more than $2,500

Class A misdemeanor

IN

N/A

Imprisonment: Not more than 180 days

Fine: Not more than $1,000

Class B misdemeanor

IA

N/A

Imprisonment: Not more than 30 days

Fine: $50 to $500

Simple misdemeanor

KS

(KS Statutes 8-1566)

Imprisonment: First offense - 5 to 90 days; Second/subsequent offense - 10 days to 6 months

Fine: First offense - $25 to $500; Second/subsequent offense - $50 to $500

Misdemeanor

KY

N/A

Imprisonment: None

Fine: $20 to $100

Violation

LA

N/A

Imprisonment: First offense - Not more than 90 days; Second/subsequent offense - 10 days to 6 months

Fine: First offense - Not more than $200; Second/subsequent offense - $25 to $500

Misdemeanor

ME

(MRS Title 29-A section 2413)

Imprisonment: Not more than 6 months in the county jail

Fine: Not more than $5,000

Felony

MD

(MD Transp. Code section 21-901.1)

Imprisonment: None

Fine: Not more than $1,000

Misdemeanor

MA

(MGL chapter 90 Sec. 24)

Imprisonment: Two weeks to 2 years

Fine: $20 to $200

Misdemeanor

MI

(MI Vehicle Code sections 257.625 to 257.626c)

Imprisonment: Not more than 90 days

Fine: Not less than $100.00 or more than $500.00

Misdemeanor

MN

N/A

Imprisonment: Not more than 90 days

Fine: Not more than $1,000

Misdemeanor

MS

(MS Code 63-3-1201)

Imprisonment: First offense - none; subsequent offense - Not more than 10 days

Fine: First offense - $5 to $100; Second/subsequent offense - Not more than $500

Misdemeanor

MO

N/A

Imprisonment: None

Fine: Up to $1000 - $2000

Class B misdemeanor; Class A misdemeanor of violation causes an accident

MT

(MCA section 61-8-301 and section 61-8-715)

Imprisonment: First offense - Not more than 90 days; Second/subsequent offense - 10 days to 6 months.

Fine: First offense - $100 to $500; Second/subsequent offense - $500 to $1,000

Misdemeanor

NE

(R.R.S. Nebr. § 60-6, 213; 60-6,215; 60-6,217 )

Imprisonment: First offense (Class III misdemeanor) - Not more than 3 months; Second offense (Class II misdemeanor) - Not more than 6 months; Subsequent offense (Class I misdemeanor) - Not more than 1 year

Fine: First offense (Class III misdemeanor) - Not more than $500; Second offense (Class II misdemeanor) - Not more than $1,000; Subsequent offense (Class I misdemeanor) - Not more than $1,000

Class I, II or III misdemeanor

NV

(NRS 484B.653)

Imprisonment: Not more than 6 months

Fine: Not more than $1,000

Misdemeanor

NH

(NH Statutes 265:79)

Imprisonment: None.

Fine: First offense - $500, Second/subsequent - $750 to $1,000

Violation

NJ

(NJ Statutes 39:4-96)

Imprisonment: First offense - Not more than 60 days; Second/subsequent offense - Not more than 3 months

Fine: First offense - $50 to $200; Second/subsequent offense - $100 to $500

Quasi-criminal/Petty Offense

NM

(NMS 66-8-113)

Imprisonment: First offense - 5 to 90 days; Second/subsequent offense - 10 days to 6 months

Fine: First offense - $25 to $100; Second/subsequent offense - $50 to $1,000

Misdemeanor

NY

(NY Vehicle & Traffic Law Section 1212)

Imprisonment: First offense - Not more than 30 days; Second offense (within 18 months) - Not more than 90 days; Subsequent offense (within 18 months) - Not more than 180 days

Fine: First offense - Not more than $300; Second offense (within 18 months) - Not more than $525; Subsequent offense (within 18 months) - Not more than $1,125

Misdemeanor

NC

N/A

Imprisonment: 1 to 60 days

Fine: Not more than $1,000

Class 2 misdemeanor

ND

N/A

Imprisonment: Not more than 30 days

Fine: Not more than $1,000

Class B misdemeanor

OH

(ORC section 4511.20)

Imprisonment: First offense (minor misdemeanor) - none; Second offense within 1 year (4th-degree misdemeanor) - Not more than 30 days; Subsequent offense within 1 year (3rd-degree misdemeanor) - Not more than 60 days

Fine: First offense (minor misdemeanor) - Not more than $150; Second offense within 1 year (4th-degree misdemeanor) - Not more than $250; Subsequent offense within 1 year (3rd-degree misdemeanor) - Not more than $500

Misdemeanor

OK

N/A

Imprisonment: First offense - 5 days to 90 days; Second/subsequent offense - 10 days to 6 months

Fine: First offense - $250 to $500; Second/subsequent offense - $300 to $1,000

Misdemeanor

OR

N/A

Imprisonment: Not more than 1 year

Fine: Not more than $5,000

Class A misdemeanor

PA

(PA Vehicle Code Ch. 37; Section 3736)

Imprisonment: None

Fine: $200

Summary Offense

RI

N/A

Imprisonment: First offense - Not more than 1 year §31-27-13(c); Second/subsequent offense - 1 to 5 years

Fine: First offense - Not more than $500 §31-27-13(c); Second/subsequent offense - Not more than $5,000

Misdemeanor for first offense; Felony for subsequent offense

SC

(SC Code section 56-5-2920)

Imprisonment: Not more than 30 days

Fine: $25 to $200

Misdemeanor

SD

N/A

Imprisonment: Not more than 1 year

Fine: Not more than $1,000

Class 1 misdemeanor

TN

(TN Code section 55-10-205)

Imprisonment: Not more than 6 months

Fine: Not more than $500

Class B misdemeanor

TX

(TX Transp. Code Ch. 545.401)

Imprisonment: Not more than 30 days

Fine: Not more than $200

Misdemeanor

UT

N/A

Imprisonment: Not more than 6 months

Fine: Not more than $1,000

Class B misdemeanor

VT

(23 VSA section 1091)

Imprisonment: 1 year to 4 years

Fine:

Negligent Motor Vehicle operation: First offense - Not more than $1,000; Subsequent offense - Not more than $3,000

Grossly Negligent Motor Vehicle Operation: First offense - Not more than $5,000; Subsequent offense - Not more than $10,000; Offense involving serious bodily injury/death - Not more than $15,000

Misdemeanor; Felony if offense causes serious bodily injury or death

VA

N/A

Imprisonment: Not more than 12 months

Fine: Not more than $2,500

Class 1 misdemeanor

WA

N/A

Imprisonment: Not more than 1 year

Fine: Not more than $5,000

Gross misdemeanor

WV

(WV Code section 17C-5-3)

Imprisonment: First offense - 5 to 90 days; Subsequent offense - 10 days to 6 months

Fine: First offense - $25 to $500; Subsequent offense - $50 to $1,000

Misdemeanor

WI

(WI Code Chapter 346 Section 346.62)

Imprisonment:

Endangering Persons or Property: First offense (forfeiture) - None; Second/subsequent offense within 4 years (misdemeanor) - Not more than 1 year in the county jail.

Causing Bodily Harm (misdemeanor): 30 days to 1 year in the county jail; Causing great bodily harm (felony) - 90 days to 2 years and 3 months

Fine:

Endangering Persons or Property: First offense (Forfeiture) - $25 to $200; Second/subsequent offense (within 4 years) (misdemeanor) - Not more than 1 year in county jail.

Causing Bodily Harm (misdemeanor): $300 to $2,000 §346.65(3); Causing great bodily harm (felony) - $600 to $2,000

Civil Forfeiture, misdemeanor or felony

WY

(WY Statutes Title 31, Ch. 5 Section 31-5-229)

Imprisonment: Not more than 6 months

Fine: Not more than $750

Misdemeanor

Drivers may pay fines up to $15,000 depending on their state and the nature of the violation.

How Long Does a Reckless Driving Ticket Stay on Your Record?

The length of time a reckless driving ticket stays on your driving record will range from three to 10 years and vary by state. Drivers can potentially reduce the time a ticket stays on the record, by:

  • Attending a defensive driving course
  • Getting your ticket deferred and then dismissed
  • Fighting the ticket

How To Get a Reckless Driving Ticket Dismissed

When you appear in court for a reckless driving violation, the judge may permit having your ticket deferred to a later date and then subsequently dismissed. If you drive without committing any moving violations or causing any accidents up to the deferral date, your ticket will be dismissed. This means the violation will not be noted on your driving record. However, fines, court fees and other penalties may still apply.

Alternatively, you can fight the ticket. Consider hiring an attorney to help you build a case and prove why the judge should dismiss your ticket.

Reckless driving is considered a misdemeanor in most states. Subsequent charges may be classified as felony offenses.

FAQs

Can you go to jail for reckless driving?

Reckless driving can lead to jail time depending on the severity of the violation, where it was committed and if it was the first offense. In Ohio, for example, drivers may face imprisonment for the second offense of reckless driving, but not the first offense.

Is reckless driving a misdemeanor?

Reckless driving is considered a misdemeanor in most states. Subsequent charges for reckless driving may be classified as felony offenses.

How do you prove reckless and negligent driving?

To prove reckless driving, one would need to show that the offending party drove a vehicle with wanton disregard for the safety of others and property. Speed monitors, witness testimonies and traffic cameras are examples of supporting evidence.

Key Takeaways

  • Reckless driving is operating in a vehicle in a way that endangers the safety of other people and property.
  • Common examples of reckless driving may include extreme speeding, street racing and illegally passing a school bus.
  • Penalties for reckless driving can cost up to $15,000 and will vary due to severity, whether it was the first offense and depending on where the ticket was issued.
  • You could face jail time for reckless driving.

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