Reckless driving is the operation of a vehicle with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
Texas reckless driving laws apply to public highways, roads, and parking lots/garages.
Unlike a common traffic offense, reckless driving in Texas comes with criminal penalties. This means that reckless driving could appear on your criminal record.
Keep in mind that these laws act as a framework for reckless driving charges. Your specific situation could look different from the Texas reckless driving laws explained below. To discuss the specifics of your case, contact our reckless driving attorneys in Texas today.
Penalties for Reckless Driving in Texas: Is Reckless Driving a Felony?
Reckless driving usually is not a felony in Texas. Texas law defines reckless driving as a misdemeanor offense.
Reckless driving could become a felony if it involves other conduct, such as racing. You could also face a felony charge when someone is injured or dies.
Penalties for misdemeanor reckless driving include:
- A fine of up to $200;
- Up to 30 days in county jail; or
- Both a fine and jail time.
Repeated reckless driving convictions could result in a suspension of your license.
What Conduct Counts as Reckless Driving in Texas?
Reckless driving means that you drove with conscious or deliberate disregard for the safety of others.
You might receive a reckless driving citation for:
- Driving significantly over the posted speed limit;
- Driving too fast for road conditions;
- Weaving in and out of traffic;
- Driving intoxicated;
- Street racing;
- Evading the police; or
- Otherwise endangering the life or property of another.
Reckless driving typically means that you engaged in more than one dangerous activity.
Texas does not define reckless driving by how many miles per over the speed limit you drove.
Instead, speeding may factor into a reckless driving charge, especially if combined with other dangerous activities like weaving in and out of traffic.
Driving at excessive speeds could also lead to a reckless driving charge.
For example, driving 20 miles per hour over the speed limit could land you with a reckless driving charge.
Reckless driving could also mean that you drove too fast for road conditions, even if you drove within the speed limit.
Racing a vehicle might result in several charges, including one for reckless driving.
Racing is ordinarily a Class B misdemeanor. The charge could become a Class A misdemeanor if you have a prior racing conviction, were racing while intoxicated, or had an open container of alcohol in the vehicle.
Racing can also result in a felony charge. Three types of felony charges exist for racing in Texas. These felonies include:
- State Jail Felony. If you have two racing convictions, a third offense is a state jail felony. Penalties for state jail felonies include six months to 2 years in state jail.
- Third Degree Felony.Racing becomes a third-degree felony if it results in injury. A third-degree felony comes with a possible prison sentence of 2 to 10 years.
- Second Degree Felony.The offense is a second-degree felony if someone is seriously injured or dies. A second-degree felony conviction is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison.
A felony charge may also result in a fine up to $10,000.
The police might seize your vehicle if you caused personal injury or property damage. In this case, you might need to pay removal and storage fees before you can retake possession of the car.
Eluding a Police Officer
Running from a police officer is a Class B misdemeanor under Texas law. This crime occurs when a driver does not stop after signaled to do so by a police officer. The penalty for a Class B misdemeanor could include up to 6 months in jail.
The charge becomes a Class A misdemeanor if you act recklessly while you elude the police officer. For example, driving while intoxicated creates a presumption that you acted recklessly.
A Class A misdemeanor could result in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
Discuss Your Case with a Texas Defense Lawyer
The Texas criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Simer & Tetens are experienced, skilled, and here to help.
Contact us online or call (254) 412-2300 to schedule an initial consultation. We’ll discuss the specifics of your case and come up with a strategy to help lessen or eliminate your reckless driving charges and penalties.