Reckless driving is a criminal offense in Pennsylvania, and conviction can have some serious consequences. While many people think of "just a ticket" as not really a big deal, the reality is that you can end up feeling the repercussions for a long time. If you face any type of criminal charges, your best option is to promptly speak with a qualified attorney.
Pennsylvania law generally defines reckless driving as driving a vehicle with deliberate disregard for safety. This sweeping definition can include various kinds of driving behaviors.
Careless versus reckless driving
Bad driving behaviors can take many forms, not all of which will necessarily be deemed reckless. Careless driving, for example, typically means conduct that was unsafe but which the driver did not purposely undertake. The hallmark of reckless driving is purposeful behavior.
Common types of conduct the law usually considers reckless include substantially exceeding the speed limit, disobeying traffic lights or signage and driving while intoxicated. As you may note, some of these behaviors can mean additional charges; you can face charges of reckless driving and DUI.
Reckless driving that does not cause harm generally results in a fine of $200 (doubled if the driving occurs in specific zones) and six months of license suspension. Sometimes, even jail time can result.
If the driving does cause damage to a person or property, the penalties can be substantially harsher. If the driving injures a person, the driver can face a fine of at least $1,000 and jail time of at least three months. When such driving kills someone, jail time will be at least a year, and the fine will be at least $25,000.
Even the lowest reckless driving penalties can have some impactful consequences. Having your license suspended for half a year can mean serious difficulties getting to school, arriving to work on time or taking your children to school and activities. Further, a conviction will add points to your driving record, increasing penalties in the event of a future driving offense.