Reckless driving results in thousands of accidents every year, and chances are you have seen it in action. A driver may have pulled close to your bumper while on a busy highway or woven in and out of traffic without signaling their lane changes. What actually constitutes reckless or careless driving under the law, however, can be difficult to define.

What is reckless driving?

South Carolina law defines reckless driving as driving with a “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” This can cover a wide variety of unsafe driving behaviors, including:

  • Running a stop sign, stop light or traffic control officer
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Driving around traffic barriers
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Passing in a no-passing zone like a blind curve
  • “Tailgating,” or not leaving a safe following distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of it
  • Using a public road to race or “play chicken”
  • Erratic lane changes
  • Failure to signal a turn
  • Not yielding right of way to pedestrians

Any of these can lead to accidents that harm public property, other vehicles, drivers and even pedestrians. However, these unsafe behaviors are only considered reckless if they are done when the driver either knows the danger that their action could cause or if they were inattentive.

If you are charged with reckless driving, what are the consequences?

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor criminal offense in South Carolina.  Your first offense may result in six points penalty from your license, fines and potential jail time, though these penalties increase if the reckless behavior was linked to driving under the influence of alcohol. Subsequent offenses can be punished with more severe fines, longer imprisonment and the suspension or even revocation of a driver’s license. A conviction will also cause your insurance premiums to rise and will be found on your criminal record.

Like other criminal charges, it is possible for drivers charged with reckless driving to fight against these charges. An attorney can help drivers examine the charges against them and possibly negotiate to have those charges reduced or dismissed.