Ever turned a corner too sharply, bashed a traffic cone, or ran a light and thought, was that reckless driving? Or have you ever seen some Mario Kart-esque driving and thought surely that isn’t allowed?
But what exactly is reckless driving? Many of us drivers see some questionable sights on the road, but the term can be murky. Often reckless driving is associated with high-speed car chases or flipped cars on the central reservation. But are more of us guilty of reckless driving than we realize?
According to studies, as many as 87% of drivers in the country engage in reckless driving! Yikes! Surely, we can’t all be willingly committing a crime?
So today, let us settle the debate once and for all. That’s right; we are going to answer the question that keeps us all awake at night: what is considered reckless driving?
What is reckless driving?
Let’s get straight into it! Reckless driving is when a person drives with indifference to the safety or property of others. Every state in the country has a slightly different definition of reckless driving, but this is always at its core.
Some states consider your mental or physical state as an example of reckless driving. For example, not using a seatbelt correctly can be seen as reckless driving!
Be sure to check what your state defines as reckless driving and any other states you might drive in, whether for work or a holiday. Remember, ignorance is no excuse when it comes to the law!
Examples of reckless driving:
Now that we have covered what reckless driving means let’s take a look at some examples. Remember that this will vary state by state. Let’s look at some common examples of reckless driving:
- High miles per hour speeding
- Passing on blind curves
- Swearing and cutting in and out of lanes
- Tailgating another vehicle
- Not letting other drivers pass.
- Passing school busses when their stop signs are down
- Passing other vehicles when it is illegal
- Failing to stop at a red light or stop sign
- Going around railroad barriers
- Racing other vehicles
- Texting while driving
- Failing to stop for another vehicle or pedestrians right of way
- Driving after taking drugs or alcohol
These are just some examples of what is considered reckless driving. They all have in common the danger they pose to the driver and other people on the roads or sidewalk. When driving, it is vital to follow the law to ensure everyone is safe.
Is reckless driving a crime?
The charge for reckless driving varies from state to state. Generally, it is considered a misdemeanor crime and will go on your permanent driving record. The punishment for reckless driving will depend on the severity of the crime.
For example, speeding or running a stop sign can result in a ticket, a fine, or points on your driving license. However, driving intoxicated and causing an accident or a fatality will usually result in a prison sentence.
The punishment will vary from state to state; you can check on the DMV website the penalty for reckless driving in your state.
What about my insurance?
If charged with reckless driving, your insurance premium can be impacted. To an insurance company, you are now a higher risk to insure as dangerous drivers are more likely to be involved in a collision.
While this will depend on the dangerous driving charge, you will generally see a slight price increase in your insurance.
While running a stop sign might seem like a minor incident or a lapse in judgment, causing accidents or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can result in considerably higher premiums. This might not be immediate, but rather when your policy is up for renewal.
Remember to declare any charges to your insurance provider as soon as possible. Failure to do so can result in your policy being canceled immediately.
In some cases, reckless driving can result in a driving ban. During this time, you will be unable to get diving insurances and must not drive under any circumstances.
Reckless driving laws:
As we keep saying, the laws defining reckless driving from state to state. While we have discussed the common reckless driving examples, let’s take a look at some you might never have considered as reckless driving!
- In several states, a driver fleeing from the police counts as reckless driving.
- In Illinois, intentionally making a vehicle airborne is an example of reckless driving.
- Not technically driving, but in Hawaii, the reckless riding of an animal will see you charged with reckless driving.
- Don’t think about racing in Minnesota; it’s an act of reckless driving even if you are racing under the speed limit.
- Nevada and New Hampshire have laws against racing too. Even if you organize an unauthorized race but don’t drive, it’s a reckless driving charge for you. The same goes for betting on unauthorized races too.
- In Virginia, if you drive faster than 80mph, you will be charged with reckless driving. You will also receive 6 points on your DMV record too!
- In Louisiana, falling asleep at the wheel and causing a death qualifies as reckless driving.
- In some states, speeding in a school zone is considered reckless driving.
While some of those examples seem obvious, there are a few in there we bet you found surprising! This is why it is essential to check the reckless driving laws in every state you drive through to avoid a reckless driving charge!
As you can see, there is a range of actions that can be qualified as reckless driving. These will vary from state to state, but the standard is much the same. Driving that can put yourself or others at risk is deemed as reckless driving. The punishments for reckless driving can range from a warning or a ticket to a prison sentence.
Be sure that while driving, you follow the rules as set by the DMV in your state. Remember that you can always report reckless driving to the police, especially if you capture it on your dashcam! Let’s keep our roads safe.