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  • Writer's pictureRicha Shetty

What is Reckless Driving? Is it a Criminal Offense? (Simplified)

The simplest definition of reckless driving is operating a vehicle in such a way that puts either people or property in danger, whether intentional or not.

  • This offense is most often considered a misdemeanor; however, charges can vary in severity depending on if the reckless behavior in question resulted in destruction, injuries, or death.

While the definition of reckless driving varies by state and local regulation, it is generally described by the FMCSA as “driving a motor vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” It is considered a conscious or intentional indifference to the rules of the road and operation of a vehicle, with the knowledge that damage could be done. Read further about How Accurate is GPS Speed in a Vehicle Tracking System?

What is Reckless Driving? Is it a Criminal Offense? (Simplified)

These are the common behavioral violations that can be deemed/ Considered as Reckless:

  • Excessive speeding (25 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit)

  • Running red lights or stop signs

  • Intentionally failing to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles and pedestrians

  • Driving under the influence/while intoxicated

  • Racing other vehicles

  • Evading law enforcement

  • Passing on a two-lane highway over a double yellow line

  • Passing a stopped school bus

  • Texting while driving 

Preventing Reckless Driving for your Vehicle:

Monitoring driver safety is key to preventing reckless driving. Telematics and GPS fleet tracking provides real-time and real-world insight into how drivers behave on the road. It reports on speeding, harsh braking, aggressive acceleration, and sharp or erratic corning – all behaviors that indicate reckless driving.

With telematics solutions, fleet managers can also set safe driving rules and create automated alerts – for themselves and drivers – if rules are broken or at-risk of being broken.

Fleet managers can use this data to get a benchmark of fleetwide performance and identify which risky behaviors their fleet displays most often. From there they can set KPIs on safe driving and build an ongoing program to measure progress, provide training, incentivize safety, and penalize dangerous behaviors. Explore the 8 Ways to Improve Driver Behavior with a Modern Fleet Management System

Examples of Reckless Driving:

Any number of actions that pose a threat to the safety of people or objects can be considered reckless driving. These are some commonly seen examples:

  • Not adhering to stop signs or traffic lights

  • Swerving into oncoming traffic

  • Driving onto sidewalks or other areas not intended for motor vehicle operation

  • Making dangerous traffic maneuvers such as weaving, tailgating, or unsafe passing

Speeding isn’t always considered a reckless driving behavior. Driving over the speed limit becomes punishable as such an offense in California when the driver reaches 15 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit. In such cases, a qualified speeding ticket lawyer provides representation to help traverse the system and fight charges on the driver’s behalf. Learn more about how fleet software helps in monitoring vehicle speed.

Legal Aspect of Driving Recklessly:

Unlike careless driving and improper driving, which are both civil traffic violations, reckless driving is a criminal offense. In addition to demerit points on your license and hefty fines, reckless driving can also lead to a loss in license and even jail time. Facing charges of recklessly operating a vehicle can have a number of outcomes for drivers. Some consequences of reckless driving include but are not limited to the following:

  • Arrest and time spent in jail

  • Suspension of license

  • Impoundment of vehicle

  • Accrual of points on driving record

  • Hefty fines

Drivers can be charged with reckless vehicle operation whether the violation occurred intentionally or unintentionally. Either way, there is any number of reasons to fight charges in court. Working with an attorney specializing in such cases may minimize the results of reckless driving. These lawyers are formidable assets when it comes to investigating witnesses, negotiating on the driver’s behalf, or providing representation in the courtroom.

What to do When you are Arrested:

If you’re facing reckless driving charges, contact an experienced reckless driving lawyer right away. He or she will be your advocate, provide advice, and work on your behalf to minimize fines and other penalties. Learn more about the points to be noted before choosing a vehicle tracking system for your business

Punishment for Reckless Driving:

Reckless driving may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the conduct at issue. If the driver’s actions lead to actual bodily harm, a felony will often be charged. Additionally, if death results, the driver may also face a charge of vehicular homicide. Penalties for reckless driving will vary by state, but they may include criminal charges, fines and jail time, or possible revocation or suspension of a driver’s license. Read more about What Violations Leads you to pay E-challan (Fine)? And How to Avoid It?


For transportation fleets, a reckless driving charge has greater implications on business. It can worsen the SMS Safety Measurement System) built by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Safety Measurement System. and BASIC (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) score and rank, which could cause them to lose business.

The first step to prevent that from happening is to ensure you and your drivers fully understand what reckless driving is. Then there are ongoing measures you can take to identify unsafe driver behaviors and provide tailored training to correct those behaviors.

Contact us for a quick demo of our Traxroot Vehicle Tracking System to understand how our software using GPS systems can protect you and your companies vehicles by providing details like distance traveled, live speed, driving patterns, generates fuel-saving reports, nighttime driving, acceleration, fuel slippage, and many other exciting features. Reduce your Insurance premiums with us. We will love to help you out Visit our FAQ page for some frequently asked questions on fleet management.


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