Almost every traffic infraction, including reckless driving, constitutes a crime from a legal standpoint. Revised Statutes of Missouri, RsMo Section 302.302 outlines how careless and imprudent driving is unlawful in the state.
The above-referenced state statute outlines how anyone convicted of this Class B misdemeanor may have to pay up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in prison. That same code describes how reckless driving resulting in a car accident is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by as much as $2,000 in fines and a year-long jail term.
Understanding what constitutes reckless driving can help you avoid a problem — or begin to strategize your defense if you’re currently facing charges.
What kinds of actions equal “reckless” driving?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration describes reckless driving as the operation of a vehicle with “willful or wanton disregard” for the safety of others and their property. It’s unnecessary for an accident, property damage or injury to occur for police to charge motorists with reckless driving. The alleged unsafe driving and driver’s knowledge that their actions could have caused damage or harm is often enough to bring such charges against a motorist.
Many driving behaviors may rise to the level of reckless driving, including:
- Driving 25 mph or more over the posted speed limit
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Passing over double lines on a two-lane highway
- Intentionally failing to yield to pedestrians and other motorists
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Drag racing other motorists
- Evading law enforcement
- Texting while driving
- Passing a stopped school bus
The list above is far from comprehensive. Numerous other driving infractions may result in reckless driving charges.
Why a conviction on your record for reckless driving is a problem
A reckless driving conviction carries with it more than fines and potential jail sentences. You may incur points on your license, be subject to higher insurance rates and put your driving privileges in jeopardy. If someone is injured, a conviction can also lend weight to their claims in civil court.
Ideally, you can use this information to avoid ever being in such a difficult position. If you are facing charges, however, it’s only wise to work with an experienced attorney.