Teens and young people are most prone to reckless driving, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen to anyone. Each and every time you get into the driver’s seat you have to make a choice. Are you able to drive safely? What are the possible obstacles in your way? The answers run the gamut from your wakefulness, how much alcohol you’ve had to drink, and even road conditions.
Choosing to drive recklessly and irresponsibly can cause irreparable damage to you, other people, property, and your future. Penalties can be quite severe and include fines, misdemeanor charges and even jail time. Those who repeatedly engage in reckless driving can count on seeing an increase in insurance premiums and even being required to obtain SR22 insurance. So, before heading out the door, be sure to consider the short- and long-term consequences that could be in your future because of reckless driving.
Driving is Serious Business
Some people take pride in the things they can do behind the wheel. Their ability to put on makeup, talk on the phone and even driving after having a few drinks is a pride point for some drivers. The truth of the matter is, these are all reckless behaviors and the individual just hasn’t yet been ‘caught.’ If these behaviors were to continue, it would be simply a matter of time before an accident occurred or they were pulled over by the police. It is estimated that on average, a drunk driver will get behind the wheel and drive under the influence 80 times before getting caught. And yet, in the United States, one person is killed every hour in an accident involving a drunk driver.
Reckless driving has some immediate consequences that drivers need to contend with if they are caught. These are the aspects to reckless driving that people first think and worry about when they see the police lights in their rearview mirror.
- Points on your license. Points mean varying things in different states, but generally it either means you will pay a fine or the points add up to a time when you lose your license.
- Fines. If you’re caught driving recklessly, chances are hefty fines will only be one of the unpleasantries you’ll be facing. They can range from $100 and up, depending on the state.
- Possible jail time. Authorities take reckless driving seriously. The consequences can be fatal, so jail time is never outside the realm of possibility.
- Suspension of license. If you are convicted of multiple (more than one) charge of reckless driving within 18 months, you run a big risk of losing your license.
Long Term Consequences
As difficult as the short-term consequences are to deal with, the long-term consequences can echo through your life for years to come.
- Criminal record. While it varies from state to state, your reckless driving may be a criminal offense. If you’re caught, that criminal record will stick with you for the rest of your life.
- Losing your job. There are so many jobs these days that involve driving. Traveling salesman, delivery drivers, passenger lifts, etc. If you’re convicted of a reckless driving charge, you’re likely to lose your driving job and have a difficult time finding a new one.
- Insurance premium increase. If convicted of reckless driving, your insurance company will either refuse to insure you or substantially raise your insurance premiums.
- Damage to your reputation. It’s nearly impossible to keep a reckless driving conviction quiet. When friends, employers, coworkers, and family members find out they may judge you harshly and you may lose people’s trust. It may also put you at a disadvantage in the eyes of banks and other lenders who may see you as careless.
What Constitutes Reckless Driving
Getting behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking isn’t the only thing that constitutes reckless driving. Keep your driving behavior in check at all times so you can avoid serious consequences. Examples of reckless driving include:
- Excessive speeding – generally 30 mph over the speed limit, though it varies from state to state
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Changing lanes excessively
- Failing to signal a lane change
- Not stopping at a stop sign or traffic light
- Improperly passing another vehicle
- Driving while distracted including cell phone use, loud music, eating and driving
- Refusing to yield
Every time you get behind the wheel be certain it is safe for you to do so. If you’ve been drinking alcohol, wait the appropriate time period beforehand or don’t drive at all. Before speeding or choosing behaviors that aren’t courteous to other drivers, consider what it can cost you in the short and long run.