What Actions are Considered Reckless Driving in Texas?

Posted by Trent Kelly on April 21, 2023
What Actions are Considered Reckless Driving in Texas?

If you are charged with reckless driving in Texas, it can result in serious consequences. A reckless driving charge can lead to fines, jail time, or a license suspension.

If you have been charged with reckless driving in Texas, you need the Austin car accident lawyer at TK Injury Lawyers to assist you.

What Does Recklessness Mean?

The Texas Penal Code § 6.03 states that a person acts recklessly “when he is aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur.”

Simply stated, a person is reckless when he or she knows that a certain set of actions has a potential result, but he/she ignores the risk and proceeds anyway.

A reckless individual puts others’ lives at risk. A person who exhibits reckless behavior makes a gross divergence from the standard of care that a reasonable person under the same conditions would show others.

What Does Texas Law Say on Reckless Driving?

According to the Texas Transportation Code § 545.401, a person commits reckless driving if he or she “drives a vehicle in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Reckless driving is a crime in Texas.

In order to be charged under this law, the reckless conduct must occur on:

  • A private access way or parking area for a business (not a garage that charges a fee to park or private residential property); or
  • A public highway or another public venue

What Type of Behavior is Considered Reckless?

In Texas, a motorist can be charged with reckless driving if he/she is:

  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Excessively speeding
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Evading the police
  • Racing on a highway
  • Ignoring traffic signs, signals, or lights at intersections
  • Tailgating
  • Driving while distracted*

Driving while distracted is any activity that diverts the driver’s attention away from the road. Distracted driving can include talking or texting on your cell phone, eating, drinking, and changing the radio station, to name a few.

Not all distracted driving is reckless driving. If the driver has the intent of disregarding the safety of others, then it constitutes reckless driving.

Crash Statistics

The Texas Department of Transportation reported the following statistics related to crashes in 2021:

  • 1 person was killed every 1 hour and 57 minutes
  • 1 person was injured every 2 minutes and 12 seconds
  • 1 reportable crash occurred every 57 seconds
  • 239,539 people were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes
  • Distracted driving accounted for 433 deaths
  • 1,077 people who died were intoxicated, accounting for 24% of overall deaths

Although there are no overall statistics related purely to reckless driving accidents, there is data documenting the number of car accidents caused by drunk driving and distracted driving. The figures clearly display the high number of fatalities due to both.

Which Age Groups are More Likely to Drive Recklessly?

Teenagers between the ages of 16 to 19 are more likely to drive recklessly.

Men are twice as likely to be involved in injury-related crashes than women. Men are more at risk since they are more likely to engage in irresponsible behavior, like not wearing a seat belt, driving aggressively, and speeding.

The fatality statistics are even more glaring. In 2020, a reported 3,948 males were killed, as opposed to 1,039 females in speed-related collisions.

Penalties for Reckless Driving in Texas

In Texas, reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense. Depending on the circumstances, a reckless driving charge has different levels of severity.

A person charged with reckless driving could face the following punishments:

  • A fine of not more than $200;
  • Up to 30 days in county jail;
  • Both a fine and jail time

Repeated offenses could result in a suspension of your license. A motorist is considered to be a “habitual violator” of the law if he/she has had four or more convictions arising out of different events in the last 12 months or seven or more convictions in 24 months.

Reckless driving can lead to more serious penalties depending on your actions. Texas misdemeanors are classified as either Class A, Class B, or Class C offenses.

Class A misdemeanors are the most serious offense, with a Class C misdemeanor being the least severe.

A motorist could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if the driver is:

  • Evading a police officer while displaying reckless conduct, putting another in danger of serious bodily injury
  • Racing on a highway*

Texas Transportation Code § 545.420 defines racing on a highway as being any of the following:

  • A race;
  • A vehicle speed competition or contest;
  • A drag race or acceleration contest;
  • A test of the physical endurance of the operator of a vehicle; or
  • An exhibition of a vehicle’s speed or acceleration or to make a vehicle speed record.

A Class A misdemeanor could result in a fine of $4,000 and up to one year in jail.

Evading a police officer is normally classified as a Class B misdemeanor. A person is considered to be evading a police officer, or “running from the cops,” if they fail to stop when the officer indicates the driver to do so.

The indication may be the officer turning on flashing lights or sirens, or using other hand gestures, asking the driver to pull over. The cop must be in a marked police vehicle and have their badge visibly displayed.

A person who commits a Class B misdemeanor could face a fine of $2,000 and up to 180 days in prison.

Depending on the circumstances, a motorist could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. A Class C misdemeanor carries a fine of up to $500, but no jail time.

A Texas Reckless Driving Attorney Can Help

If you have been charged with reckless driving, we are here to help. Although a serious offense, we will examine the allegations against you and work effortlessly to reduce your charges or have them dropped altogether. Contact us today to request your free consultation.

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