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.  As a result, being found guilty of this offense results in a conviction on the person’s criminal record.

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.”


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.  D.C. Code § 50-2201.04.  In addition to the criminal penalties described above, a person convicted of reckless driving will have his/her driver’s license revoked for a period of at least 6 months.