What Constitutes Reckless Driving in PA?

The state of Pennsylvania is dedicated to protecting the lives of those who travel its roads, and to accomplish that goal the state has established rules — and penalties for breaking those rules. There are various charges and consequences that a driver can face, and the assignment of different charges is based on the seriousness of the offense. A good example of this is the difference between reckless driving and careless driving.

If you are charged and convicted of reckless driving in the state of Pennsylvania, there is a good chance that your license will be suspended, you will have to pay a significant fine and you might even face jail time. By contrast, if you are charged with careless driving you face similar fines and potential jail time, but a license suspension is less likely (unless your offense has resulted in a death or is concurrent with a significant number of points on the driver’s license. The reason for the difference is that reckless driving includes intent, while careless driving indicates that the person charged was not aware that their driving was dangerous.

To get a sense of the difference between reckless driving and careless driving, consider these examples. A driver who is ticketed after crossing lanes and driving off of the road is charged with careless driving if the reason for their violation is that they fell asleep behind the wheel, or that they spilled hot coffee on themselves. By contrast, a driver who lost control of their vehicle because they were driving at 30 miles per hour above the speed limit or driving without a valid license or because they were recording themselves on their smartphone is more likely to be charged with reckless driving. The latter are examples of willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other drivers with whom they share the road, or for the property that they might damage.

When a driver is charged with and convicted of reckless driving in Pennsylvania, they face a minimum fine of $200, and a six-month license suspension. Fines can go higher and jail time can be imposed based on circumstances such as driving in a work zone or injuring a person. If you’ve been charged with reckless driving in Pennsylvania the most important thing you can do on your own behalf is to get in touch with a qualified, experienced attorney who can guide you through the legal steps. To speak to one of our lawyers, contact us today to set up an appointment.