top of page
  • by Eli Moore Traffic Attorney


As an experienced traffic attorney, I've found that few people know what the term "reckless driving" means and what its penalties are. And that's unfortunate because in New York State, reckless driving is considered a misdemeanor—which is defined as a criminal charge and results in a criminal record. Driving recklessly is not to be taken lightly, so it's important to be in the know to prevent safety and legal problems.

Q. What is reckless driving?

A. Reckless driving is defined by New York State traffic law as driving “in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.” This lawful definition is seen as extremely broad and in the eyes of police officers can be interpreted in various ways. For example, a driver who accidentally drives the wrong way on a one-way street can be ticketed for reckless driving. While not purposeful, it is important to understand that there is intentional and unintentional reckless driving. Just because it is unintentional does not mean it is not reckless.

Q. What is the penalty for reckless driving?

A. A first offense reckless driving charge in New York State can lead to a maximum $300 fine and 30 days in jail. For a second offense, you may receive a maximum fine of $525 with 90 days in jail. For a 3rd offense, you can receive a fine of $1,125 and a jail sentence of up to 180 days. Reckless driving convictions also add five points to your driving record and increase your car insurance rates. In fact, reckless driving convictions raise car insurance rates higher than any other traffic-related violation!

Q. How should you respond to a charge of reckless driving?

A. Depending on the circumstances, an experienced traffic attorney can successfully fight the charge of restless driving in court , negotiate a plea bargain, and reduce penalties in trial and negotiate a plea bargain. In other words, if you are charged with reckless driving, do NOT immediately plead guilty. Instead, contact an expert traffic lawyer right away. There are several defenses that a traffic lawyer can use to get the charges and penalties reduced. Failure to get proper legal representation in a reckless driving case can have major consequences on your record, your wallet, and even your freedom.

bottom of page