Reckless driving relates to any negligent behavior while driving that endangers human life or property. The most serious examples of this includes driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI), both of which are misdemeanors punishable in a court of law.
Examples of Reckless or Careless Driving
The definition of reckless driving also takes into account acts that may not be influenced by a controlled substance such as alcohol but are nevertheless deemed as negligible acts. These may include circumstances where there are too many passengers in a vehicle or when drivers fail to yield, thus endangering themselves as well as others.
Top examples of negligent or careless driving which could lead to fines or other penalties include:
- Drunk driving
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Not using turn signals
- Distracted or drowsy driving
- Failure to yield right of way
These type of acts are serious crimes. They especially affect youths who, research suggests, are more likely to speed or underestimate dangerous situations while driving. 1
5 Most Strict and Most Lenient States for Reckless Driving
One of the best ways to ascertain a state’s level of strictness when it comes to reckless driving is to determine how it punishes and seeks to prevent DUI.
Based on their law enforcement rules and procedures, the following 5 states were deemed as the strictest states for reckless driving:
- West Virginia
According to said statistics, the following states ranked as the most lenient:
- North Dakota
- District of Columbia
- South Dakota
Punishment for Reckless Driving
Laws across states deal with this crime differently. While some states like Arizona and Alaska impose severe penalties, others may be more lenient when it comes to their road rules and enforcement of traffic laws.
According to the Georgia law, “Any person who drives any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property commits the offense of reckless driving.” According to that said Georgia Code of law, once an individual is convicted of this type of crime (a misdemeanor), he or she can be fined a sum not exceeding $1,000.00 or spend at most 12 months in prison. 2
The judge may also enforce both penalties depending on the seriousness of the case. The offender’s license may also be suspended for 12 months and if the crime is a fourth time offense – meaning the offender has been convicted for the fourth time with this charge – the offense automatically becomes a felony. At this time, stricter penalties may be enforced including a longer prison sentence.
Where a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, he or she may receive even stricter penalties depending on the state in which the offense occurs. Arizona imposes some of the strictest penalties including 30 days jail time and a fine of $2,500.00. If the DUI occurs on a suspected driver’s license, as a third offense within 84 months or involves a passenger 15 years old or younger, this is classified as an “aggravated DUI” – the most serious kind. 3
Aggravated DUIs result in at least 2 years in prison, community service and loss of driver’s license for at least 3 years in Arizona.
Reckless Driving Statistics in Georgia
In Georgia, between 2007 and 2014, there were 9,272 traffic fatalities. Of this number, 2,345 fatalities were reported as alcohol-impaired driving fatalities.
Speeding, another aspect of reckless driving, accounted for 1,746 fatalities within that same period. Though this sounds like a significant number, Georgia does not rank in the top five states with the highest incident of this crime.
In most states including Georgia, the main cause of road deaths between 2009 and 2013 was failure to keep in the proper lane, while the second leading cause was reckless driving. This is based on data recorded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and compiled by Auto Insurance Center. 4
The second leading cause was most prevalent among the following states: Arkansas, Montana, Florida, Louisiana and Colorado, with Arkansas having the most careless driving/ reckless driving fatalities.
Legal Actions to Take if You Are Caught Driving Recklessly
Now here’s the tricky part: what do you do if you are caught driving recklessly? Since this can lead to serious penalties, it is best to get help from a reputable legal professional. A lawyer who specializes in this area of law will be best able to advise you as to your legal options and obligations based on the facts of your case.
An attorney who specializes in representing defendants accused of reckless driving crimes such as DUIs will also be able to best represent your interests.
Reckless driving causes damage worth more than $40 billion each year and is especially dangerous when it comes to human life. 5
States such as Georgia implement strict laws to combat the effects of careless driving with penalties that include jail time, fines, suspension of the offender’s driver’s license and community service. Regardless of the strictest laws and penalties, it still continues to be a plague across the United States and is best avoided at all costs.