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Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is driving with a willful or wanton disregard for safety or the operation of a vehicle in which you show a willful disregard of consequences. When someone is cited for this traffic offense, it is because they have shown a disregard for the rules of the road and may or may not have caused an accident or property damage. But as a threshold issue, the driver normally has to do something more than mere negligence in the operation of a vehicle to be cited for reckless driving. 

Reckless Driving: Basics of the Offense

Most states have laws addressing willfully dangerous driving. In some states, the violation is called "reckless driving," while other states may use the terms "careless driving" or "dangerous driving" to describe the same violation. Reckless driving is one of the most serious traffic offenses and is typically charged as a misdemeanor (as opposed to an infraction). Conviction can result in penalties ranging from heavy fines to incarceration in certain cases, depending on state laws.

In some states, certain acts automatically are considered reckless, such as:

  • Driving 25 miles per hour (or more) over the posted speed limit
  • Racing another vehicle
  • Trying to elude a police officer
  • On a two-lane highway, passing another vehicle when visibility of oncoming traffic is limited

Reckless Driving: State Laws

Alabama Reckless driving

(AL Code 32-5A-190)

Alaska Reckless driving

(AK Statutes scroll to 28.35.400)

Arizona Reckless driving

(ARS 28-693)

Arkansas Reckless driving

(AR Code 27-50-308)


Reckless Driving (California Vehicle Code Section 23103)

Reckless Driving: Bodily Injury (California Vehicle Code Section 23104)

Colorado Reckless driving - penalty

(CRS 42-4-1401)

Connecticut Reckless driving

(GSC section 14-222)

Delaware Reckless driving

(DE Code Title 21 section 4175)

District of Columbia Speeding and reckless driving

(DC Code section 50-2201.04)

Florida Reckless driving

(FS 316.192)


Reckless driving

(Georgia Code 40-6-390)

Hawaii Reckless driving of vehicle

(HRS section 291-2)

Idaho Reckless driving

(ID Statutes section 49-1401)

Illinois Driving While Intoxicated...and Reckless Driving

(625 ILCS 5/11-500 to 5/11-505)

Indiana Reckless Driving; Class B Misdemeanor; Damage to Property; Suspension(scroll)

(Indiana Code 9-21-8-52)

Iowa Reckless driving

(IA Code section 321.277)

Kansas Reckless driving; penalties

(KS Statutes 8-1566)

Kentucky Operator of vehicle to drive carefully

(KRS 189.290)

Louisiana Careless operation

(LRS 32:58)

Maine Driving to endanger

(MRS Title 29-A section 2413)

Maryland Reckless and negligent driving

(MD Transp. Code section 21-901.1)

Massachusetts Law of the road

(MGL chapter 89)

Michigan Driving while intoxicated, and reckless driving

(MI Vehicle Code sections 257.625 to 257.626c)

Minnesota Reckless or careless driving

(MN Statute 169.13)

Mississippi Reckless driving

(MS Code 63-3-1201)

Missouri Motorists to exercise highest degree of care

(MRS 304.012)

Montana Reckless driving

(MCA section 61-8-301)

Nebraska Reckless driving

(R.R.S. Nebr. § 60-6, 213)

Nevada Reckless driving

(NRS 484.377)

New Hampshire Reckless driving; minimum penalty

(NH Statutes 265:79)

New Jersey Reckless driving

(NJ Statutes 39:4-96)

New Mexico Reckless driving

(NMS 66-8-113)

New York Reckless driving

(NY Vehicle & Traffic Code section 1212)

North Carolina Reckless driving

(NCGS section 20-140)

North Dakota Reckless driving

(ND Code Chapter 39-08 scroll to 39-08-03)

Ohio Willful or wanton operation on street or highway

(ORC section 4511.20)

Oklahoma Reckless driving

(OK Statute 47-11-901)

Oregon Rules of the Road: Careless and Reckless Driving

(OR Vehicle Code scroll to 811.135 to 811.140)

Pennsylvania Miscellaneous Provisions: Reckless Driving

(PA Vehicle Code Ch. 37; scroll to Section 3736)

Rhode Island Reckless driving and other offenses against public safety

(RI Code 31-27-4)

South Carolina Reckless driving

(SC Code scroll to section 56-5-2920)

South Dakota Reckless and Unsafe Driving

(SD Codified Laws Ch. 32-24)

Tennessee Reckless driving

(TN Code section 55-10-205)

Texas Operation and Movement of Vehicles

(TX Transp. Code Ch. 545.401)

Utah Reckless driving -- Penalty

(UT Code 41-6a-528)

Vermont Negligent operation; grossly negligent operation

(23 VSA section 1091)

Virginia Reckless driving (VA Code 46.2-852)

Reckless driving; penalties (VA Code 46.2-868)

Washington Reckless driving - penalty

(RCW section 46.61.500)

West Virginia Reckless driving

(WV Code section 17C-5-3)

Wisconsin Reckless driving

(WI Code Chapter 346 scroll to section 346.62)

Wyoming Reckless driving

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

Reckless Driving Citation? Get Legal Professional Help

Reckless driving is a serious charge and can result in steep fines, loss of driving privileges, or even jail time in some instances. If you have been cited with a reckless driving ticket and are going to plead not guilty, you would be wise to contact an experienced traffic ticket attorney in your area. 

Next Steps

Contact a qualified traffic ticket attorney to help you get the best result possible.

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