Robert R. Hart, Jr., Attorney at Law
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Reckless driving: How is it legally defined?

Let's say you're driving along an Ohio roadway when another vehicle suddenly cuts you off on the road, veers straight through your traffic lane, hops a curb, then comes back down, re-enters the roadway and barrels on ahead, at speeds undoubtedly well above the posted limits. How would you describe that person's driving behavior?

If you respond by saying you'd call such actions "reckless," you'd likely not be the only one; in fact, most well-reasoning adults would consider the driving maneuvers listed at the start of this post to be reckless, dangerous and irresponsible. The term "reckless" is somewhat subjective, however. You might consider turning without signaling a reckless action while someone else might call it "careless." If a police officer pulls you over for reckless driving, what matters most is the legal definition of the word.

A willful disregard for safety

If a police officer issues you a traffic violation for reckless driving, it means he or she claims that you willfully ignored or disregarded your own safety and the safety of others near you. The following information further explains a reckless driving violation, as well as what type of support is available to you if you want to fight a traffic ticket.

  • You do not have to cause property damage or a collision to get a reckless driving citation. 
  • There is a legal difference between negligence and recklessness, although some state laws may label reckless operation of a motor vehicle as dangerous or careless driving.
  • Negligence typically pertains more toward error of judgment or failure to perform a necessary action for safety's sake, etc., whereas recklessness concerns a wanton and willful disregard for safety.
  • The law defines certain behaviors behind the wheel as reckless, including exceeding a posted speed limit by more than 25 miles per hour, intentionally racing another motorist or passing a vehicle on a two-lane road when you can't see oncoming traffic.
  • A police officer can also cite you for recklessness if you try to evade a patrol officer who is attempting to stop you.

Incurring a conviction for reckless driving is one of the most serious traffic offenses you can sustain. Not only might you face substantial fines, the court may sentence you to jail time as well. In fact, reckless driving is a misdemeanor rather than a driving offense or infraction.

Who can help?

The court will sometimes dismiss a traffic citation. While you can go it alone in court, your chances of obtaining positive results may be better if you rely on someone who knows the ins and outs of the traffic court system and can determine the best course of action for mitigating a particular circumstance.

Other Ohio motorists have been able to avoid reckless driving convictions by relying on experienced, aggressive legal representation.

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