What Is Reckless Driving?
Imagine running late for an important meeting and quickly speeding up to beat the changing light. Or perhaps you were in such a hurry that you proceeded to speed and weave in and out of traffic. Now, you’re facing a reckless driving charge. But what is reckless driving?
Reckless driving means operating a vehicle with a deliberate or careless disregard for safety or other consequences. If you have been charged with reckless driving, it is important to understand the charge and the potential consequences that may follow.
What Is Considered Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving is more than just speeding. It refers to any intentional behavior that disregards the safety of oneself and others and puts passengers, pedestrians, or other drivers at risk. These behaviors can include:
- Excessive speeding,
- Distracted driving,
- Weaving through traffic,
- Running red lights,
- Ignoring stop signs,
- Street racing,
- Stunt driving, or
- Violating several traffic laws simultaneously.
In New Mexico, reckless driving is defined as operating a vehicle carelessly, without due caution, and in a way that endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property.
How Long Does Reckless Driving Stay on Your Record?
In many states, including New Mexico, reckless driving is a serious crime and goes beyond being a simple traffic violation. A reckless driving conviction has more severe consequences as it can remain on your record for several years, negatively impact future job opportunities, and raise your insurance premiums.
In New Mexico, a conviction for reckless driving remains on your record for up to four years.
What Is the Minimum Jail Sentence for Reckless Driving?
The minimum jail sentence for reckless driving varies from state to state, and penalties may differ depending on the jurisdiction. Reckless driving could be classified as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the severity of the act and whether it caused injury or property damage.
Some states impose fines and probation for first-time offenders, while others require a short jail sentence. Repeated offenses may result in longer periods of incarceration.
A first-time conviction for reckless driving in New Mexico results in a minimum jail sentence of five days. Subsequent convictions require a minimum of 10 days in jail.
Can You Lose Your License for Reckless Driving?
Yes. Several states have rules that permit the suspension or revocation of a driver’s license due to reckless driving convictions. The length of the suspension or revocation typically depends on various factors, such as the severity of the offense, previous driving records, and whether the incident resulted in injuries or fatalities.
If you’re convicted of reckless driving in New Mexico, your driver’s license may be suspended for up to 90 days. This can affect your ability to travel to work, take your family places, or fulfill other important daily tasks.
How Many Points Can You Accumulate Before You Lose Your License?
Most states have systems to monitor your driving history and assign points to your license for moving violations. These points are given for traffic offenses such as speeding, reckless driving, or running a red light. The number of points assigned and the time limit for accumulation vary by state. If you reach a certain number of points within a specified time frame, your license may be suspended or revoked. It is important to check with your state’s DMV to understand the specific points system in place and how it could affect your driving privileges.
In New Mexico, you will receive points if convicted of certain driving offenses. The points assigned to each violation are as follows:
- Reckless driving: 6 points,
- Speeding 6-15 mph over the posted speed limit: 3 points,
- Speeding 16-25 mph over the posted speed limit: 5 points,
- Speeding 26 mph or more over the posted speed limit: 8 points,
- Running a red light: 4 points,
- Following too closely: 3 points, and
- Improper Lane Change: 4 points.
If you accumulate 12 points within a year, your license is suspended for one year. Each time you get points after that, the suspension period increases.
How Many Miles Over the Speed Limit Is Reckless Driving?
The speed limit for reckless driving can differ from one state to another, and no universal speed limit applies everywhere. In certain states, exceeding the speed limit by a certain number of miles per hour, such as 20 mph, may automatically qualify as reckless driving.
Reckless driving is not determined just by exceeding a specific speed limit but by your intent and the totality of your actions. Even moderate speeding, when combined with other erratic driving behavior, can be considered reckless. Driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit or exceeding 80 mph in New Mexico is considered reckless driving.
Why Is Reckless Driving Dangerous?
Reckless driving poses a significant risk because it increases the chances of road accidents, which can result in physical injuries and substantial property damage. Every year, reckless driving leads to thousands of injuries, accidents, and fatalities. The numbers speak for themselves:
- In 2021, almost 14% of fatal crashes were caused by drivers who failed to stay in the right lane or yield the right of way.
- In 2021, 1,109 people died in accidents that involved running a red light.
- Speeding contributed to 29% of all traffic-related deaths in 2021.
- Reckless driving cost Americans more than $340 billion in 2019.
Cautious driving is not just about obeying the law. It is also about protecting everyone on the road.
Facing a Reckless Driving Charge? We Can Help.
You’re probably feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. But before you go it alone, remember that the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices has a proven track record of success in these situations. We’ve secured dismissals, reduced charges, and fought for the best possible outcomes for countless clients facing similar accusations. Our experienced attorneys are ready to listen, guide you through the process, and fight for your rights.
Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation. It could be the difference between a stressful ordeal and a confident, informed defense.