Reckless Driving in D.C.

Like driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license, or leaving after colliding, reckless driving in D.C. is treated not as a traffic infraction, but as a criminal offense. This means that a person who is convicted of this offense is subject to a fine and/or jail-time.  The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles will assess 6 demerit points against the person’s license and revoke operating privileges for at least 6 months.  Finally, the conviction will appear on the person’s criminal record, thereby causing potential personal and professional embarrassment.

Because of these potential consequences, it is important that a person charged with this offense hire a good lawyer with experience handling this type of case in D.C.  Koehler Law stands ready to help in this regard.  You can reach Jamison Koehler by phone at 202-549-2374 or by email at jkoehler@koehlerlaw.net.

Elements of the Offense

In order to secure a conviction for reckless driving, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant drove any vehicle on a highway either (1) “carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights and safety of others” or (2) “without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property.”  It is considered “aggravated reckless driving” if, in addition to these two elements, the person also (1) drives more than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit, (2) causes bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another, or (3) causes property damage in excess of $1,000.

Penalties

The penalty for a first-time conviction of reckless driving is imprisonment for up to 3 months and a maximum fine of $500.  A person who is convicted of reckless driving twice within a two-year period can be fined up to $1,000 and imprisoned for up to one year.  Third time offenders within a two-year period can receive a maximum fine of $3,000 and a sentence of up to one-year imprisonment. In addition to the criminal penalties described above, a person convicted of reckless driving will have his/her driver’s license revoked a period of at least 6 months. The penalty for a first-time conviction for “aggravated reckless driving” is a $2,500 and imprisonment of up to one year. D.C. Code § 50-2201.04.