Understanding Reckless Driving in Texas

by sem on September 18, 2013

Reckless Driving in Texas
“Reckless driving” in Texas is defined as “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” This definition may seem a bit broad. In reality, reckless driving can encompass a large number of actions on the road, such as excessive speeding, haphazard lane-changing, highway racing, running red lights, and almost anything done behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol.

Reckless driving is one of the more serious traffic violations. The penalty for reckless driving can be a suspension of your license, points on your record, 30 days in prison, and/or a $200 fine. It is considered a misdemeanor, but can become a felony if someone is killed or injured, or if significant property damage occurs. Reckless driving is one of the easiest ways to lose your driving privileges.

What Is the Difference Between Speeding and Reckless Driving?

Frankly, there is no set number at which speeding instantly transmutes into “reckless driving.” It’s up to the discretion of the officer who catches you to determine if your driving behavior exemplified enough disregard for the safety of others to warrant more severe charges. Going 10 MPH over the limit alone on a highway in the middle of the night is probably less likely to be considered “reckless” than going 40 MPH over the limit while weaving in and out of gridlocked cars. Both of these actions are speeding, but one is far more reckless than the other. You can be charged with both speeding and reckless driving if the officer feels it is called for.

The Texas Driver Responsibility Program (DRP)

Since 2003, Texas has implemented the Driver Responsibility Program (DRP) to give extra yearly surcharges to drivers who commit severe traffic violations. Depending on what type of behavior caused your reckless driving charge, you may fall into the DRP and end up having to pay a lot of money. A first-time DUI offense will cost you $1000 a year for the next 3 years. Further offenses, or driving with more than twice the legal blood-alcohol limit, will cost $1500 and $2000 a year, respectively.

What Can You Do About a Reckless Driving Charge?

If the charge is minor enough (i.e. you didn’t injure anyone), you can attempt to have to the points and fine associated with charge removed from your record by completing a state-approved defensive driving course. However, these traffic school courses can only be taken once a year to dismiss tickets. They can be taken online, entirely from home, and after passing a final exam, you will receive a certificate of completion, which serves as legal proof that you have been through the course.

Alternatively, you can hire a traffic specialist attorney to attempt to fight the charge or have it downgraded to something less severe. Be prepared to put up the fight of your life to prove your innocence, though. Mere speeding tickets are simple enough to defend against, but getting out of reckless driving requires a much stronger argument.

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