When it comes to a person’s driving behavior, careless and reckless may sound like the same thing, and while they are managed under Minnesota Statute 169.13, they actually have different definitions. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at Careless or Reckless Driving citations in Minnesota, and what you should do if you are cited for either.
Reckless Or Careless Driving
Reckless and careless driving citations are very similar, but their definitions are slightly different in order to penalize a wider variety of actions. Here’s a look at the definition of each:
Careless Driving – “Any person who operates or halts any vehicle upon any street or highway carelessly or heedlessly in disregard of the rights of others, or in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any property or any person, including the driver or passengers of the vehicle, is guilty of careless driving.”
Reckless Driving – “Any person who drives any vehicle in such a manner as to indicate either a willful or a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.”
Reckless driving also has another definition that applies to racing on public roads. That definition states that “a person shall not race any vehicle upon any street or highway of this state. Any person who willfully compares or contests relative speeds by operating one or more vehicles is guilty of racing, which constitutes reckless driving, whether or not the speed contested or compared is in excess of the maximum speed prescribed by law.”
As you can see, these definitions are pretty similar, but a reckless driving citation will be viewed more harshly because it requires a willful or wanton disregard for public safety. The threshold for careless driving is not that high, and that definition simply requires driving in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger people or property. For example, tailgating another driver may result in a careless driving citation, whereas passing a school bus with its stop arm engaged may garner a reckless driving citation.
Both standard careless and reckless driving charges are handled as a misdemeanor offense, meaning they are punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $1,000. That said, you may face additional charges or an upgraded charge depending on the circumstances. If you were racing over 100 miles per hour or you drove carelessly and caused an accident with injury, the charges could be upgraded.
Even if you just end up with a misdemeanor offense, you’re going to want to talk to lawyer about your options. Careless and reckless driving citations can end up significantly increasing your automobile insurance rates, costing you hundreds if not thousands of dollars or more in the long run. Don’t just plead guilty and hope for a slap on the wrist, consult with a lawyer and determine the best way to move forward.
So if you have been charged with careless or reckless driving, or a different traffic issue like a DWI, pick up the phone and reach out to the defense team at Appelman Law Firm today. Give us a call at (952) 224-2277 for a free case consultation.