In Texas, reckless driving is defined under Section 545.401 of the Texas Transportation Code. It states that a person commits an offense if they drive a vehicle in “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
This definition is intentionally broad to encompass various behaviors that put others at risk on the road, but that can make it hard for people to understand what sort of actions could cause them to face charges that, if they’re convicted, could result in a 30-day jail sentence and a $200 fine.
Common examples of reckless driving
A reckless driving charge can be based on the subjective opinion of the arresting officer, but you’re more likely to face this for things like:
- Excessive speeding: Driving at speeds significantly above the posted speed limits or at speeds unsafe for the current road and weather conditions
- Aggressive driving: Aggressive behaviors such as tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, and road rage incidents
- Street racing: Engaging in illegal street racing or any form of speed competition on public roads
- Drunk or drugged driving: Operating a vehicle while impaired by either drugs or alcohol
- Running red lights and stop signs: Disregarding traffic signals and signs can have serious consequences
- Distracted driving: Trying to manage personal grooming, using a handheld cellular device to send a text or check social media or generally not paying attention to the road
- Evading a traffic stop: Attempting to flee when a police car signals you to pull over for a traffic stop
- Wrong-way driving: Driving in the opposite direction of traffic on one-way streets or highway ramps
- School zone violations: Trying to pass a school bus when students are trying to load or unload, or racing through a school zone during school hours
- Overloaded vehicles: Carrying an unsecured, top-heavy or badly secured load on the back or top of a vehicle that could easily fall off while in motion
- Ignoring emergency vehicles: Failing to yield to emergency vehicles, including ambulances, when they have their lights and sirens going
Conviction for reckless driving can lead to a suspension of your driver’s license, and your auto insurance rates are likely to skyrocket. Plus, if you’re later declared a habitual traffic violator due to subsequent offenses, you may end up with a suspended license.
If you’re charged with reckless driving, it’s important to realize that a guilty plea is the same as a conviction. You have no guarantee that a judge will “go easy” on you if you plead guilty. Seeking experienced legal guidance can potentially help you overcome charges like these, especially if the charge is based more on an officer’s perceptions than reality.