Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is a crime which can be charged when a police officer makes a subjective determination that a driver has operated his car in a reckless manner which unreasonably interferes with other drivers or pedestrians on the highway or road.

Reckless driving is a subjective crime which can be defeated by a good lawyer in court.

New York State Courts have held that reckless driving requires a showing of more than “mere negligence” on the part of the driver.

Although other states (like Connecticut) allow reckless driving to be charged for driving at a high speed, New York State does not allow for the charge of reckless driving merely for speeding.

In order to be charged with reckless driving the driver must exhibit a reckless disregard for other drivers or pedestrians on the road or the consequences of those actions.

A New York reckless driving conviction under NYS VTL 1212 can result in the following penalties:

  1. A criminal record. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor, not a violation or “parking ticket”;
  2. Five (5) points on your New York State driver’s record;
  3. A fine of $300 plus a $70 fee for first time offenders;
  4. A spike in your insurance rates; and
  5. A possible loss of your driver’s license (depending on how many points on the driving record).

A ticket for reckless driving can generally be defeated if it does not allege at least two separate moving violations or at least one violation with some specific and unreasonably dangerous action on the part of the driver.

For example, a reckless driving ticket for going through one stop sign is generally insufficient. However, a reckless driving ticket which involves allegations of blowing through two stop signs may be sufficient because it shows a pattern of reckless activity in which the driver disregards the safety of others.

Likewise, a ticket for going the wrong way down a street should not result in a reckless driving citation. However, a ticket for driving the wrong way on a one way street at a high rate of speed may be ticketed.

The New York State Penal Law requires the risk be of “such a nature and degree that disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.” PL §15.05(3).

Mere allegations that the defendant “disobeyed a red light” should not be sufficient for a charge of reckless driving because everybody makes mistakes. A high degree of recklessness must be exhibited on the part of the driver. People v. Dipoumbi, 23 Misc.3d 1127A (NY City Crim Ct. 2009). Oftentimes tickets charging reckless driving will be “conclusory” and therefore easily dismissible.

A lawyer should discuss with his client the potential for making a motion to dismiss in cases where reckless driving is charged although not even a single traffic violation or act of recklessness is alleged on the part of the driver. A summons which fails to properly spell out reckless driving is “insufficient on its face” because it fails to properly allege what the driver did which was unreasonable.

If you have been charged with reckless driving, please contact Stewart A. McMillan immediately at (914) 358-4326 or on his 24 hour cell phone at (917) 538-5016 or e-mail him at

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