What is reckless driving?

You can make the argument that driving over the speed limit is a “reckless” decision, but simply going five miles per hour over the posted limit isn’t enough to get a reckless driving charge all on its own.

How does the law define reckless driving?

Reckless driving is generally defined as driving in a manner that shows “wanton disregard” for the safety of others on the road. Those others could be drivers, passengers, cyclists or pedestrians. If the style of driving is “likely to endanger” them, then it may count as reckless driving.

Speed is often a key issue. For instance, while going five miles an hour over the limit may not be reckless — despite being illegal — one could argue that going 15 miles per hour over the limit is reckless. It is so unnecessarily dangerous, the police may insist, that it increases the risk for others.

Even that is something of a judgment call, though, and every situation isn’t the same. Does intent make a difference? For instance, maybe you know the speed limit is 55, but you decide to drive 70 because you’re more concerned with making a good time than keeping people safe. That seems reckless.

But what if you were in a 55 mph zone and you passed into a 35 mph zone — but the sign was obscured by a tree? You didn’t know you were speeding. While you don’t contest that you broke the law, is that really reckless to be driving 55 when you thought the speed limit was 55? Mistakes happen. That’s not the same as wanton disregard for safety.

If you do find yourself facing serious traffic violations charges like reckless driving, you need to understand your legal defense options. A conviction can do serious damage to your life, so take action quickly.

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