Reckless Driving Law and Legal Definition

Reckless driving refers to driving with a willful or wanton disregard for safety. It is the operation of an automobile under such circumstances and in such a manner as to show a wilful or reckless disregard of consequences. In such cases the driver displays a wanton disregard for the rules of the road; often misjudges common driving procedures and causes accidents and other damages. It is usually a more serious offense than careless driving, improper driving, or driving without due care and attention and is often punishable by fines, imprisonment, and/or driver's license suspension or revocation. As a general rule something more than mere negligence in the operation of an automobile is necessary to constitute the offense.

Many U.S states have reckless driving statutes and specifics vary from state to state. Where statutes proscribed reckless driving by use of the terms "careless manner," "carelessly and heedlessly," "carelessly," or "careless, inattentive, or imprudent manner," it has been held that they are constitutionally valid, in that their terms are well known and clear, giving definite warning of the proscribed activity, and that they set forth the necessary elements of the offense. As a general rule, what constitutes reckless driving is to be determined from all the surrounding circumstances, at least where the statute does not specifically declare what particular acts shall constitute the offense.

One whose driving establishes culpable negligence may be convicted of reckless driving notwithstanding that reckless driving also violated other statute. [Com. v. Evelyn, 184 Pa. Super. 514, 136 A.2d 158 (1957).]

Reckless indifference to consequences of injury to another or to property of another is essential element of reckless driving. State v. Labonte, 120 Vt. 465, 144 A.2d 792 (1958)

The following is an example of a state law ( Mississippi) on reckless driving:

Miss. Code Ann. § 63-3-1201 Reckless driving

Any person who drives any vehicle in such a manner as to indicate either a wilful or a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. Reckless driving shall be considered a greater offense than careless driving.

Every person convicted of reckless driving shall be punished upon a first conviction by a fine of not less than Five Dollars ($ 5.00) nor more than One Hundred Dollars ($ 100.00), and on a second or subsequent conviction he may be punished by imprisonment for not more than ten (10) days or by a fine of not exceeding Five Hundred Dollars ($ 500.00), or by both.