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Is Reckless Driving a Misdemeanor?

Reckless driving is considered a very dangerous road behavior in the state of California. A single charge carries a penalty of two points on your driving license, which could lead to you losing your driving privileges. Despite this fact, many drivers do not know how reckless driving is charged in the state and how it may affect your record.

Is reckless driving a misdemeanor? In this post, we review reckless driving charges in California and the penalties they may carry. Please consult one of our Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorneys with El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers if you have been injured in a reckless driving accident.

What Constitutes Reckless Driving in California?

According to the California Vehicle Code 23103, reckless driving refers to driving on a highway or in a parking facility with willful and wanton disregard for the safety of other people or property. The state considers a highway as any publicly maintained area in which the public can travel in vehicles.

A driver is said to be demonstrating wanton disregard when they are aware that their actions create a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm, but they ignore the risk. Common examples of such behavior include:

  • Racing
  • Driving on the sidewalk
  • Passing illegally
  • Driving in the wrong lane or direction
  • Repeatedly swerving across lanes.

Reckless Driving Penalties

Reckless driving is charged as a misdemeanor in California, and a conviction of this offense may result in serious penalties, such as a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 5 to 90 days in county jail. In the event that someone is hurt or killed as a result of reckless driving, or if the driver has a previous reckless driving conviction, the penalties may increase substantially.

Reckless driving charges may be further increased to a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon if a driver is found to have used their vehicle to cause serious bodily harm to another person. This charge can carry a jail term of 2 to 4 years in state prison.

Alcohol-related reckless driving, also called reckless driving involving alcohol, is another related charge. Besides the penalties for a first-time conviction, it can also carry an additional 1 or two probation years and mandatory substance abuse or alcohol education program.

A reckless driving conviction will also add two points to your driving record and lead to a license suspension. The points may, in turn, lead to surcharges on your auto insurance rates.

Wet Reckless Driving Charges

In some cases, DUIs can be charged as a wet reckless driving charge pursuant to Vehicle Code Section 23103.5., also called a reckless driving charge involving alcohol. Such a charge is considered a lesser charge than a DUI and may include reaching a plea bargain. It also results in shorter probationary periods, fewer fines, and no license suspension.

Consult a Personal Injury Attorney

Is reckless driving a misdemeanor? Yes, reckless driving is a serious offense in California and carries a wide range of serious penalties. Besides hefty fines, it can also result in jail time, which could worsen with every subsequent conviction.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a reckless driving accident, our Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorneys can help you recover your deserved compensation. Contact El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers today online or at 888-544-2136 to schedule your free initial consultation.