Reckless driving is driving with a willful or wanton disregard for safety or the operation of a vehicle in which you show a willful disregard of consequences.
When someone is cited for reckless driving, they often show a disregard for the rules of the road and may or may not cause an accident and/or property damage. As a threshold issue, the driver normally has to do something more than mere negligence in the operation of a vehicle to be cited for reckless driving.
Most states carry laws that prohibit drivers from operating a vehicle in a way that shows a "reckless" or "willful" disregard for the safety of other people, including other drivers and pedestrians. In some states, the violation is called "reckless driving", while other states may use the terms "careless driving" or "dangerous driving" to describe the same violation. Some state traffic laws dictate that certain acts automatically qualify as "reckless driving", including:
- Driving 25 miles per hour (or more) over the posted speed limit
- Racing another vehicle
- Trying to elude a police officer
- On a two-lane highway, passing another vehicle when visibility of oncoming traffic is limited
Of course, a citation in and of itself is not evidence of guilt. Just because you are cited doesn't mean you are automatically deemed guilty. You, like all drivers charged with committing a moving violation, have the right to contest any ticket or driving citation. But rest assured, if you are charged with reckless driving, it is a relatively serious allegation.
A good first step would be to peruse FindLaw's Reckless Driving: Laws in All 50 States to familiarize yourself with your state's relevant statutes. If you have been cited and are going to plead not guilty, you would be wise to contact an experienced traffic ticket attorney in your area.