What Is Considered to Be Reckless Driving?

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Reckless driving definitions vary according from state to state, but according to Lawyers.com, many state definitions are similar. Generally in most states, reckless driving must be a combination of traffic violations that can threaten public safety and damage property.

Legal Definition

According to the American Bar Association, reckless driving is any driving act, whether malicious or negligent, that is dangerous to people or property. It is a misdemeanor and can result in a suspended license or even jail time.

Public Street

Generally, most reckless driving citations must take place on a public street to successfully show that the driver was endangering himself, others and property.

Disregard for Safety

To be charged with reckless driving, a driver does not have to maliciously try to put others in danger. If he was mentally competent enough to know that his actions could possibly be dangerous and did them anyway, that shows a disregard for public safety.


Speeding alone is not considered reckless driving unless it is combined with other factors that make it more dangerous. For example, if a driver is exceeding the speed limit when he knows there is a lot of foot traffic, such as after a sporting event, that could be considered reckless driving.

Traffic Infractions

Traffic infractions alone are not grounds for reckless driving charges unless it threatens public safety. For instance, running a red light when no one is around is a traffic infraction, but running a red light while pedestrians are waiting to cross an intersection can be considered reckless driving.

Read More: List of Major Traffic Violations