Most of the time, when a police officer pulls you over, they issue you a traffic ticket. That ticket is a civil infraction that affects your licensing and can carry a fine but doesn’t create a criminal record.
However, reckless driving allegations are different. Unlike most other driving offenses, reckless driving is a criminal charge, specifically a Class B misdemeanor. Under Tennessee law, those accused of reckless driving could face penalties including fines and jail time. What constitutes reckless driving?
Reckless driving involves dangerous behavior without concern for others
The exact legal definition of reckless driving refers to those operating a motor vehicle with willful and wanton disregard of the danger they may cause for others. For example, some people might claim that distracted driving or drunk driving is also reckless driving, as most people recognize how unsafe those behaviors are.
Exceeding the speed limit by a significant amount, driving the wrong way on a one-way street or even drag racing on public roads could constitute reckless driving. It is often up to the discretion of the officer conducting the traffic stop whether the person involved violated the reckless driving statute, or was simply speeding or otherwise driving unsafely.
Tennessee’s reckless driving law also applies to those who ignore signs about flooded roads and drive into a flooded area anyway, unless that individual is a first responder or acting in an emergency situation.
Special considerations for motorcycle riders
Tennessee law includes the intentional lifting of the front tire of a motorcycle off the ground as its own kind of reckless driving. This law doesn’t just apply on public roads but also on driveways and in parking lots.
What are the penalties for reckless driving?
You can’t just pay a ticket and move on after accusations of reckless driving. The penalties that you face could include up to six months in jail and $500 in fines under Tennessee law. A reckless driving offense can also add six points to your license, which is half of the 12-point limit.
There are many ways to defend yourself against allegations of reckless driving, and the approach you take should reflect the circumstances that led to your charges. Pushing back against reckless driving charges will protect you from a criminal record, points on your license and even higher insurance premiums in the future.