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3 ways that reckless driving is different from a speeding ticket

Seeing those flashing lights behind you can really dampen your day. Getting cited for a moving violation is stressful and expensive. It can not only cost you money for the fine but can also increase your costs for liability insurance.

Sometimes, you don’t realize until you get back home that the ticket isn’t what you expected. Maybe instead of citing you for a specific speed infraction, the officer that pulled you over instead cited you for reckless driving. Reckless driving is far from just a minor traffic ticket. It is more serious, as each of the following three differences will show.

Reckless driving isn’t a ticket but a misdemeanor charge

Some people don’t understand that the reckless driving citation they received is not merely a ticket. It is actually a misdemeanor criminal offense that will lead to a criminal record if you plead guilty or get convicted in court. As a misdemeanor offense, reckless driving can mean between five and 90 days in a county jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

Reckless driving adds points to your license

The point system for driver’s licenses helps keep drivers with bad records off the road, or at least increases their costs for insurance and licensing. Insurance providers will charge a premium for those with major issues on their driving record. Unlike a speeding ticket, which only adds one point to your license, reckless driving can mean two points on your record.

Reckless driving allegations depend on an officer’s perception

Speeding is a clear-cut criminal offense. Provided that all the equipment works properly, devices operated by law enforcement officers will provide clear, mathematical evidence that your speed was higher than the posted limit for the road.

While it is absolutely possible for those accused of speeding to successfully challenge evidence and defend themselves, the process can be a little more complex for those accused of reckless driving. You may need to challenge the evidence or possibly present an alternative description of the situation. The law refers to reckless driving as willful and wanton disregard for safety.

In other words, the standard is highly interpretive. High speeds, erratic maneuvers or even driving the wrong way on a one-way road could all lead to reckless driving allegations. Defending against those allegations can help keep your driving record and your criminal record clean.