There are many reasons why people get into car accidents in America and one of the more common reasons is reckless driving. Quite simply, reckless driving is when someone drives without consideration for the well-being of anyone else on the road. There are many different kinds of driving that might trigger this charge, from speeding to tailgating to street racing, but no matter the type, it is always very dangerous and could lead to serious accidents.

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of laws against reckless driving, which means that if you were in an accident caused by a negligent driver, you have a very good chance of getting the compensation that you need to take care of any accident-related expenses.

You have an even better chance if you get a personal injury attorney to represent you because they can help to increase your settlement amount. If you live in the St. Louis area and are the victim of a reckless driver, then visit to get the help you need.

What is Reckless Driving?

Each state has their own definition of what constitutes this driving violation but in general, it is described as operating a vehicle in a way that shows willful disregard or indifference to other people’s safety or property. What this means is that the driver was aware that they were driving in a way that would put other people or property at risk of getting hurt or damaged.

Intent to cause harm is not necessarily a part of ths driving charge. Rather it is all about whether a driver was aware that their actions had the potential to cause harm to others. In other words, the prosecution does not have to prove that someone intended to drive recklessly, instead they must prove that the driver was aware of the risk but decided to ignore it. So that means for a driver to be considered in violation, they must have an awareness of the severe risk of harm caused by their actions.

The Elements of a Reckless Driving Charge

The parameters of this type of violation can seem broad and vague at first, but there are some elements that make such a charge more likely and they are as follows:

  • Environmental Factors – The courts will consider various other factors when deciding if a driver was driving in a hazardous manner. These include the time of day, the weather conditions, and if there were other people on the road at the time. So if a driver was speeding at night in heavy rain while other drivers were on the road, then a driving charge is more likely.
  • More Than Negligence – Reckless driving is different from negligent driving because in the former case the driver is acting with a willful disregard for other people’s safety. That is different from just being irresponsible, which is the main factor in negligence. That means for a driver to be considered truly be in violation of this statute, it must be proved that the driver was aware of the danger posed by their actions.
  • There Was a Safety Risk – Even though safety risks are a big part of this particular driving charge, that does not mean that anyone had to be in immediate danger from the driver. If there was no one around while the driver was failing to use appropriate caution, they can still be charged under this statute. The reason is that the charge is not just about putting the lives and property of other people in danger, it is also about putting the driver’s own life and property in danger.
  • Per Se Recklessness – Some states have conditions that will automatically give someone a driving charge under this category if they are met. Those conditions include behavior like driving 25 miles or more over the speed limit, street racing, passing a school bus, or driving through a railway crossing while a train is approaching.

Examples of Incautious Driving That May Qualify

Despite the laws being different in each state, there are some actions that are commonly considered to be reckless:

  • Speeding 25 MPH or more over the limit
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Tailgating
  • Ignoring traffic signs and traffic lights
  • Illegal passing, such as passing on a curve or a steep incline
  • Operating a vehicle the driver knows has dangerous problems like poor brakes or non-functioning headlights
  • Racing other vehicles
  • Trying to escape from the police

The Penalties

Reckless driving penalties can be quite serious and the driver can be charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense or a misdemeanor traffic offense. Either way, the following are some of the possible penalties a driver might face:

  • Fines of up to $2500
  • Up to a year in jail
  • A criminal record
  • A previous driving charge of this category on their driving record
  • Probation
  • Suspension of their driver’s licence

A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You If You Were the Victim of a Reckless Driver

A driver who fails to use proper caution can potentially ruin the lives of many other people on the road. Fortunately, all states have laws punishing those drivers, which can make it easier for you to get the compensation you need if you were a victim of a reckless driver.

Just make sure that you get a personal injury attorney to help you when you decide to take action against the driver responsible for your accident. An experienced attorney will hold the driver accountable and do their best to make sure that you are properly compensated for their wanton behavior.