When Does Bad Driving Become Reckless Driving?

If you're involved in a driving dispute, it's important to understand what reckless driving means. Many people throw the term around, but it has a specific legal meaning. Here's what you need to know.

What is Reckless Driving?

Reckless driving is, understandably, driving in a way that is legally considered reckless. Reckless means that someone created a large risk of harm to others, and either knew or should have known about that risk of harm.

Reckless driving is a criminal offense in most places. It can be either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the seriousness. Factors that increase the charges can include whether anyone got hurt, whether minors were put at risk, and other things that made the conduct present even more danger.

Reckless driving is also grounds for a civil lawsuit. In a reckless driving lawsuit, you may be able to recover more compensation than you could in a civil lawsuit for negligence because reckless driving is more than just an accident. Since the reckless driver created a risk they shouldn't have, you may be entitled to punitive damages.

Is Speeding Reckless Driving?

Speeding can be considered reckless driving. It depends on how fast the driver was going.

Some states set specific speeds that constitute reckless driving. This can either be a set speed or an amount over the speed limit. For example, one state might say reckless driving is over 100 MPH, and another might say reckless driving is more than 30 MPH over the speed limit.

Other states consider speeding but don't have hard rules. High speeds on highways might be difficult to prove as reckless driving while speeding even just a little in a school zone might be considered reckless.

Is Using a Phone Reckless Driving?

Some states are increasing the penalties for using a phone while driving. This includes calling using a phone while driving recklessly.

The reason is that using a phone means the driver has to take their eyes off the road. This creates a much higher risk of an accident that is entirely avoidable.

Is Drunk Driving Reckless?

Drunk driving can be considered reckless, but it usually just falls under DUI. Since DUI is a serious offense by itself, there's usually no need to bring a reckless driving case.

When a driver who is drunk also drives in a way that is reckless, they may face both DUI and reckless driving charges. The reason is that they've now done something that's even more serious than just DUI or just reckless driving by themselves.