Is Reckless Driving a Felony?

Is Reckless Driving a Felony?

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Is Reckless Driving a Felony?

When you’ve been injured in an accident caused by another person’s reckless driving, you may feel afraid or overwhelmed. It can be all the more disheartening when you consider how preventable the accident was. This can leave you asking, “Is reckless driving a felony?”

Understanding your legal options following a traffic collision may require the expertise of an experienced car accident lawyer. A skilled legal professional will review your reckless driving case and determine whether you have a valid claim.  

Civil claims allow victims of negligent driving to recover financial compensation for the losses they experience. You can speak with a car accident lawyer to discover the amount of compensation to which you’re rightfully entitled.

The friendly team at Morgan & Morgan has more than three decades of experience fighting for the rights of victims of reckless driving. When you’re wondering, “Is reckless driving a felony in my case?” contact America’s largest tort law firm.

You shouldn’t be responsible for the losses and costs resulting from another person’s negligent behavior. When drivers behave recklessly, they should be held accountable for the harm they cause to others.

This is especially true when reckless driving results in physical injuries for victims. Injured parties may be able to obtain payments for medical costs, lost income, and other financial losses. Such payments are intended to help them carry on with their lives in the aftermath of a devastating accident.

Reach out to the knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys at Morgan and Morgan today for assistance with your case. Complete our convenient contact form to schedule a no-cost legal case evaluation with one of our legal professionals.

Understanding Reckless Driving

“Reckless driving” is a term that describes the operation of a vehicle in a manner that endangers the safety of other road users.

This type of driving behavior is considered a serious offense in many jurisdictions. As such, it can result in criminal charges and severe penalties in many parts of the country. Common legal penalties for reckless driving include: 

  • Fines
  • License suspension
  • Court-ordered community service
  • Imprisonment 

The legal definition of “reckless driving” varies from state to state. Generally, it includes any driving behavior that poses a significant risk to public safety. Some of the most common examples of reckless driving include:

Excessive Speeding

Driving over the posted speed limit or going too fast for the current weather conditions is considered reckless, as this behavior reduces the driver's ability to react to unexpected situations.  

Operating a vehicle at an unreasonable speed increases the risk of losing control. Those who drive at excessive speeds may be legally liable for the resulting damage.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving can cause accidents and endanger other motorists and pedestrians. Typical examples of aggressive driving include: 

  • Tailgating
  • Quickly weaving between lanes 
  • Cutting off other drivers 

This type of behavior drastically increases the likelihood of collisions. Consult a lawyer if you’ve been harmed due to another person’s aggressive driving.


Engaging in racing or any other type of speed contest on public roads is extremely dangerous. For this reason, racing qualifies as reckless driving. Racing can lead to severe accidents, injuries, and even death.

Ignoring Traffic Signals and Signs

Disregarding traffic signals is another common example of recklessly operating a motor vehicle. Traffic signs and signals may include the following:

  • Traffic lights
  • Stop signs
  • Yield signs
  • School zone signs
  • Directional signage 

Disregarding these indicators can result in significant property damage and endanger the lives of others on the roadway.

Distracted Driving

Any behavior that diverts a motorist’s attention from the road should be considered hazardous. Distracted driving constitutes recklessness in almost all cases. Typical examples of distractions while driving are: 

  • Using a mobile phone for texting or calling 
  • Eating
  • Watching videos
  • Engaging with a GPS/navigation system
  • Conversing with other vehicle occupants
  • Applying makeup 

Distracted driving reduces the driver's ability to react to sudden situations. Motorists with diminished response times are more likely to cause serious collisions.

Driving Under the Influence

Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is considered reckless driving. Intoxicated drivers have reduced reaction times and impaired judgment, both of which can lead to serious accidents.

Improper Lane Changes

Changing lanes is a potentially dangerous maneuver in any circumstance, but doing so without signaling or at inappropriate times is a clear instance of reckless driving. This behavior can invite sideswipe collisions and cause severe injuries.

Overloading Vehicles

Overloading a vehicle with passengers or cargo can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, especially on curvy or wet roadways.

Fatigued Driving

Driving while tired or without adequate rest can also be classified as reckless driving. 

Fatigued drivers often exhibit reduced reaction times and impaired judgment. This makes them unable to respond adequately and can lead to severe accidents. Reckless driving is a grave legal offense that endangers the lives and safety of other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Any behavior that poses a significant risk to public safety may qualify as reckless driving. If you witness reckless driving behavior on the road, report it to the authorities immediately.  

Remember, safe driving isn’t just about following traffic rules. It’s also about being responsible and considerate to others on the road. Make it a point to talk to a qualified car accident lawyer following an accident or injury caused by reckless driving.

Is Reckless Driving a Felony Offense?

Reckless driving is a serious traffic offense in the United States. The penalties for this violation vary depending on where the offense occurred.  

In some states, reckless driving is a misdemeanor. In others, it can be classified as a felony.

The severity of an instance of reckless driving is evaluated by considering several factors. Some of the most common include:

  • The speed at which the driver was moving
  • The driver's behavior
  • The location where the incident occurred 

In most states, reckless driving is classified as a misdemeanor offense. Consequently, a conviction for reckless driving can result in the following penalties:  

  • Fines
  • Probation
  • Jail time 

Criminal penalties will depend on the circumstances of the offense. The fines for reckless driving can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Jail sentences can be up to one year in some cases. 

But in some states, reckless driving qualifies as a felony offense. In these instances, the offense is considered more severe and carries heavier penalties than a misdemeanor conviction.  

The criteria for classifying reckless driving as a felony offense can vary from state to state. That said, reckless driving charges are typically based on factors such as the driver's actions and whether the driver caused injuries or fatalities.

It’s imperative to speak with a Morgan & Morgan attorney if you have questions about a reckless driving case. Understanding the severity of your accident is crucial when pursuing a civil claim for damages.

In the state of California, reckless driving can be considered a felony if it causes bodily harm to another person. This type of legal offense is known as “reckless driving causing injury” and can carry a sentence of up to three years in state prison.  

If the reckless driver caused the death of another person, the offense is known as “vehicular manslaughter.” In cases where the motorist is under the influence of a controlled substance, their offense can result in a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. 

In Virginia, reckless driving can be classified as a felony if the offense occurs during a high-speed pursuit. This is especially true if the collision causes injury or death to another person or the motorist is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  

If convicted of a felony reckless driving offense in Virginia, the driver can face up to five years in state prison. Convicts may also be required to pay a fine of up to $2,500. 

In Georgia, reckless driving can be considered a felony offense if the driver causes serious injury or death. Reckless motorists can be sentenced to up to 15 years in state prison and may face a maximum fine of $5,000. 

Although reckless driving is typically classified as a misdemeanor offense, it can be a felony offense in some cases, as mentioned. Crashes that result in injuries or fatalities are more likely to qualify as felony offenses.

The consequences of a reckless driving conviction can be severe and can include fines, probation, and jail or prison time.

If you’ve been negatively affected by a reckless driver, seek the advice of an experienced attorney. A car accident lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and recover the financial compensation you’re rightfully owed.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

Morgan & Morgan

  • What Types of Damages Can I Pursue After a Car Crash?

    If you’ve been involved in a collision and have suffered injuries as a result, you have the legal right to pursue compensation through a car accident tort claim.

    The financial damages you can recover will depend on the circumstances of your case. In most instances, there are several types of damages claimants can seek.  

    Claimants can pursue repayment for the cost of medical treatments. Examples include the price of: 

    • Emergency room visits
    • Hospital stays
    • Surgery
    • Medication
    • Rehabilitation
    • Physical therapy 

    If you experienced property damage, you could also pursue payments for repairing or replacing your vehicle. When your injuries prevent you from working, you can seek repayment for lost wages, including past and future income. 

    Pain and suffering damages are also available to many victims. These payments provide compensation for physical pain, emotional turmoil, and mental anguish resulting from the victim’s injuries.

    Schedule a free consultation with one of the skilled attorneys from Morgan and Morgan to determine the full value of your claim. Our team will fight tirelessly to recover every dime of compensation you have coming to you.

  • Do I Need a Tort Lawyer With Courtroom Experience?

    Yes. It’s extremely important to hire a legal representative with experience in the courtroom. Since every case is unique, there’s no way to know whether your accident case will settle out of court or go to trial.

    Working with a lawyer with courtroom experience can be particularly advantageous if the other party disputes liability or the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement. In these situations, going to court may be necessary.  

    Attorneys with courtroom experience have the skills and knowledge to present your case effectively in court. An experienced lawyer will also understand the procedural rules and deadlines involved in court cases. The legal experts at Morgan & Morgan are tested and trial-ready.

  • Morgan and Morgan Is Here for You

    Is reckless driving a felony? The short answer is that it can be, but what’s important to know is that you don’t have to pay the price for someone else’s reckless driving.

    If you’ve been involved in an accident that was someone else’s fault, fill out our brief contact form on the Morgan & Morgan website to arrange a free case evaluation today. Our team is ready to fight for compensation in your reckless driving accident or injury case.

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