Reckless Driving in Texas: Criminal Laws and Penalties
Reckless driving is one of several traffic offenses in Texas that carry criminal penalties, instead of a citation. Typically, these are misdemeanors, but can increase to felonies in some cases if there is a death or injury involved.
The police can stop and arrest you on the spot if an officer sees you committing a criminal traffic violation. These cases usually do not involve witnesses or any physical evidence, other than the officer’s statement.
Charged with Reckless Driving in Texas?
The Texas Transportation Code defines reckless driving broadly as operating a vehicle with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
That could mean driving too fast for conditions, or significantly over the speed limit, or weaving in and out of traffic and running red lights. A criminal charge of reckless driving usually requires that you performed more than one action that endangered other people or property.
You can be charged with reckless driving on a public road, or in a parking lot, garage, or other area open to the public vehicle traffic.
Reckless driving is a traffic misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $200.
The penalties for a police chase
This Texas criminal traffic charge is simple: If a police officer signals for you to stop your vehicle, and you don’t, you have can be charged with fleeing or attempting to elude, under the state’s transportation code.
The only stipulations are that the officer must be in uniform, with a badge displayed, and must be in a marked police vehicle. A signal to stop can include not just the usual lights and sirens, but also hand motions or verbal orders.
Fleeing or eluding is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in a county jail. If you “recklessly engage in conduct that places another in imminent danger of serious bodily injury,” then it becomes a Class A misdemeanor, which could mean up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
You are presumed to be reckless if do it while drunk.
Texas drag racing charges
One of the most serious criminal traffic charges is “racing on highway,” which includes drag racing and tests of the “physical endurance of the operator of a vehicle.”
While it is a Class B misdemeanor on first offense, a road racing charge becomes a Class A if you have a previous conviction, were drinking while racing, or had an open container in the vehicle. If you’ve been convicted of racing on highway twice before, the charge becomes a state jail felony, punishable by six months to two years in a state facility.
Drag racing is a third-degree felony – 2 to 10 years – if a person is hurt. It is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years, if a person is seriously injured or killed.
Get Help With a Texas Reckless Driving Charge
But you don’t have to just accept a criminal traffic charge in Texas. We can help you with your reckless driving case, or any other criminal violation, by trying to negotiate a plea to a less serious traffic offense, or by taking the case to trial, if necessary, where the state will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you acted with reckless disregard.
Don’t just agree to a permanent criminal record without getting a criminal defense case evaluation. Find out how we can help.