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Reckless Driving

Driving recklessly is a traffic offense in Texas, but anybody who is charged with this crime should not assume that it simply results in a citation. Unlike a speeding ticket, this is a criminal offense that can result in much more serious penalties.

There are several immediate and long-term consequences if a motorist is convicted for this offense. For this reason, it is important for any alleged offender facing this charge to make sure he or she has a strong legal defense.

Texas Reckless Driving Defense Attorney

If you have been accused of with this crime in Texas, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Kevin Bennett works tirelessly for clients all over Travis County towards getting the best possible resolution of your case. Get started on your case as soon as possible with an experienced Austin reckless driving defense attorney today.

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett helps people charged with crimes in Austin, Lakeway, West Lake Hills, Pflugerville, Lago Vista, Bee Cave, and Sunset Valley. Call (512) 476-4626 for a free consultation today to discuss your legal options.

Travis County Reckless Driving Information Center

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What is Considered Reckless Driving in Texas?

Under Texas Transportation Code § 545.401, a person commits this offense if he or she drives a vehicle in wilful  disregard for the safety of persons or property. A driver may be cited for this offense at any of the following locations:

  • A private access way or parking area provided for a client or patron by a business, other than a private residential property or the property of a garage or parking lot for which a charge is made for the storing or parking of motor vehicles
  • A highway or other public place 

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How Many Miles Over the Speed Limit is Reckless Driving in Texas?

Speed of course is an important factor in determining if someone was driving recklessly. However, a person cannot be charged with reckless speeding in Texas off of speed alone. Even if you are way above the maximum in the state which is 70 mph, you will likely be cited for excessive speeding rather than reckless driving. For a person to be charged with reckless driving, they must not only excessively speed but must also commit other behaviors that prove the driver wantonly disregarded whether others could be harmed.

The following are some examples of behaviors that would be considered reckless driving if they are found to be in conjunction with excessive speeding.

  • Swaying, swerving into other lanes
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Ignoring the right-of-way for vehicles or pedestrians
  • Texting or doing other behaviors while driving at an excessive speed
  • Driving past public transport recklessly and without care for others
  • Racing past law enforcement or other automobiles
  • Tailgating and weaving through lanes

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Reckless Driving Penalties in Texas

This is a misdemeanor offense, and a person who is convicted may face the following penalties:

  • Fine of up to $200
  • Up to 30 days in county jail
  • Increased car insurance rates
  • License suspension
  • Points assessed under Texas Driver Responsibility Program
  • Annual Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Driver Responsibility Surcharges

Examples of Reckless Driving are speeding way over the speed limit, weaving in and out of traffic lanes, drag racing on the highway and running red lights.

If you flee when an officer is trying to stop you for such an offense you can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.

However it is a Class A misdemeanor if the person, in the commision of the offense, recklessly engages in conduct that places another in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.

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Texas Driver Responsibility Program Impact of Reckless Driving

Under the Driver Responsibility Program, DPS is authorized to assess surcharges to people who traffic convictions and points assessed for those convictions. Points remain on a person’s driver record for three years from the date of conviction, and they are assigned as follows:

  • Two Points — Any Texas or out-of-state traffic conviction.
  • Three Points — Any Texas or out-of-state traffic conviction that resulted in a crash.

Under Texas Transportation Code §521.292(a)(3), DPS may suspend a person’s driver’s license is deemed a habitual violator of the traffic laws. Texas Transportation Code §521.292(b) states that a person can be classified as a habitual violator if he or she has either:

  • Four or more convictions that arise out of different transactions in 12 consecutive months
  • Seven or more convictions that arise out of different transactions in 24 months

People with six or more points on their driving record are accessed a surcharge every year they have six or more points. DPS will assess a surcharge of $100 for the first six points on a person’s driver record and $25 for each additional point after six. Surcharges need be paid within 105 days or the person’s driver license will be suspended until an installment agreement is established or all surcharges and related costs are paid in full.

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DWI Reduced to Reckless Driving

Although reckless driving is a serious traffic offense, the penalties pale in comparison to a conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI). In Texas, a DWI conviction has far-reaching legal, financial, and personal implications that can follow a person around for the rest of their life. For that reason, many people charged with DWI will attempt to reduce it to a lesser charge such as reckless driving. This reduced charge is also commonly referred to as a “wet reckless.”

An experienced attorney can scrutinize all the legal and factual issues that may exist in the case such as inconsistencies in evidence or illegal search and seizures. They can then utilize this knowledge to negotiate with the prosecution for a lesser charge. Often the prosecution will agree since they will still obtain a conviction and their performance is normally graded on their conviction rates. This is a safer decision for them since the chances of obtaining a conviction for DWI may be low due to issues with the prosecution’s case.

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How Long Does a Reckless Driving Ticket Affect Insurance in Texas?

A collateral consequence of reckless driving is an increase in your insurance rate. If you’ve been convicted of reckless driving, expect your insurance premiums to rise dramatically. According to an insurance industry study, rates increase on average 73 percent after a reckless driving conviction. Although every insurance carrier handles these cases differently, most will increase insurance rates after reckless driving exponentially.

The question of how long you’ll have to pay these skyrocketing premiums will depend on your insurance carrier. The majority of insurance carriers will wait until the violation is off your driving record, which is three years. However, some insurance companies may make you wait up to 5 years until you’re back to your preferred rate. For major traffic violations such as reckless driving, the insurer may have you wait as many as 10 years.

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Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Police Officer

According to Texas Transportation Code Sec. 545.421, an individual violates the “fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer” offense if he or she operates a motor vehicle and willfully fails or refuses to bring the vehicle to a stop. The statute is also violated if he or she flees, or attempts to elude, a pursuing police vehicle when given a visual or audible signal to bring the vehicle to a stop.

A signal may be by hand, voice, emergency light, or siren by a police officer pursuing a vehicle. However, the officer must be in uniform with a prominently displayed badgeThe officer’s vehicle must bear the insignia of a law enforcement agency, regardless of whether the vehicle displays an emergency light.

The offense is classified as a class A misdemeanor if the person, during the commission of the offense, recklessly engages in conduct that places another in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.

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Additional Resources

Texas Driver Responsibility Program – Visit the official website for the Texas Driver Responsibility Surcharge Program (DPS). Find more information about current surcharge accounts, payments, indigency or incentive programs, and recent legislation for traffic laws. Learn the requirements a person must fulfill if they want the DPS to assess their point record.

Texas Transportation Code § 545.401 – Visit the official website of the Texas Transportation Code and other state laws. Read more information regarding reckless driving and other traffic offenses in the state of Texas. Find more information regarding penalties, and the specifics of driving violations.

NSC: Speeding – Access the National Safety Council (NSC) website to view information regarding speeding. The page also lists important statistics such as the percentage of speeding drivers in fatal crashes.

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Austin Reckless Driving Attorney | Travis County, TX

Have you recently been charged with driving recklessly in Travis County? The Law Office of Kevin Bennett defends people accused of this offense all over the greater Austin metropolitan area, including Cherrywood, Rosedale, University Hills, and North Loop.

Kevin Bennett aggressively defends Texans against several types of serious traffic offenses and is committed to achieving the most favorable outcome in these cases. Let him provide a complete evaluation of your case to help you understand all of your legal options by calling (512) 476-4626 right now to schedule a free, no obligation consultation. Get started now with an experienced Travis County reckless driving attorney on your side today.

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