reckless driving

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Operating an automobile in a reckless manner. In most jurisdictions, reckless driving is a misdemeanor. Determining whether an individual’s operation of an automobile constitutes reckless driving is often a fact intensive inquiry. To illustrate, New York Vehicle & Traffic Laws § 1212 makes reckless driving a misdemeanor and defines it as “driving or using any motor vehicle . . . in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway. Reckless driving is prohibited.” New York courts have found the following facts to support charges of reckless driving: where the defendant accelerated through traffic through a steady red light as the Officer approached her vehicle, swerving twice into the opposing lanes of traffic, driving at a speed of sixty miles per hour in a forth mile per house zone, passing another steady red light and colliding into the rear of another vehicle (People v. Leontiev); driving under the influence of narcotics and crossing the center line of the roadway (People v. Bohacek); and making a U-turn across three lanes of traffic and hitting a motorcyclist (People v. McGrantham). However, New York courts often require several factors indicating reckless driving, and have not found, for example, that driving while intoxicated alone is reckless driving (People v. Goldblatt).

[Last updated in November of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]