What Is Reckless Driving in California? Understanding Laws and Penalties

reckless driving in California

If you are buying a car or cars, people will not see it as a luxury. But, nowadays, most people do not have to have a car anymore because cities around the world are getting better and more developed. Adding to this, there has been a lot of popularity in the shared and non-shared cabs. With the rush in the daily lifestyle and the ease of availing a cab or a personal car in the Western US states, reckless driving in California has become quite prominent.

Reckless driving comes with a lot of civil and health hazards for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and street animals.

We have curated this article to address the various aspects of Reckless Driving in California and whether or not you can be behind bars for driving recklessly and causing a nuisance.

What Is Considered Reckless Driving In California?

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The California Vehicle Code 23103 defines reckless driving as:

“A person who operates a motor vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other people or property.”

What is reckless driving in California? Simply put it,

The person driving carelessly knew very well that they were doing something dangerous.

But they thought to ignore it even though they did not at all mean to hurt anyone.

People often tend to confuse reckless driving with another term, aggressive driving.

But there’s a big difference between the two words that are important.

Driving carelessly or aggressively can be dangerous. Driving aggressively is often termed “road rage” for the reason it is being done.

People who drive recklessly often get hurt badly after an accident.

Aggressive driving exactly refers to not paying attention to traffic signals, driving on the wrong side of the road, not passing safely, not yielding, tailgating, and stopping on the highway.

California has laws for both reckless as well as aggressive driving.

However, both activities are considered criminal offenses in California. They are mostly charged by Californian laws as misdemeanors.

What Speed Is Considered Reckless Driving In California?

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In California, you can drive as fast as you want. Keep the speed limit in control and not be too reckless.

So, what speed is reckless driving in California?

Drivers who drive recklessly are usually charged individually.

But driving faster than 100 miles per hour in any situation is considered reckless driving in California.

If a driver over-speeds by 30 miles per hour or more, they may get a challan for speeding up or for reckless driving speed in California.

Considering the speed limits, here is an insight into the speed limit to maintain or not exceed in California.

California’s laws say you can’t drive faster than the speed limit, which is usually 70 mph on freeways, 65 mph on freeways and highways, and 55 mph on two-lane highways.

Driving too fast can be dangerous, especially if there are people around you, cars on the road, or the weather is bad.

Things That Say It Is Reckless Driving

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Driving without paying attention is a serious crime in California and can cause serious legal problems.

In California, reckless driving is explained as carrying out the actions we have mentioned below:

  • Racing against other drivers, speeding up and weaving in and out of traffic.
  • Speeding or tailgating, running in red lights or stop signs.
  • Not giving up the right of way.
  • At red lights or stop signs.

Other things that can be considered reckless driving include:

  • Not giving way to other drivers.
  • Driving while distracted, like texting while driving.
  • Driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be dangerous.
  • Unnecessarily honking your horn too much or being rude to other drivers.

If someone is found guilty of driving recklessly, they may have to pay money, spend time in jail, lose their license, do community service, or get points on their license.

All drivers need to know what reckless driving means in California so they can avoid them and keep the roads safe for others.

Is Reckless Driving A Felony In California?

Yes. If you are in California, it is absolutely not legal to be reckless at any hour. You must go faster but not than the speed limit.

That said, reckless driving in California punishment is quite firm.

Can you get arrested for reckless driving in California?

Here are the consequences of reckless driving if conducted in California.

Engaging in reckless driving could result in the following consequences:

  • Monetary fines
  • Jail/probation time
  • Driver’s license suspension/revocation
  • Increased auto insurance premiums

If no one is hurt because of reckless driving except the driver, they can expect to be punished in the following way:

  • 5-90 days jail time
  • $145-$1,000 fines

If you drive carelessly and hurt someone else, it can be even worse.

  • You can spend 30 days to 6 months in a county or state prison.
  • A fine of $220 to $1,000.

Driving in a manner that poses a threat to others’ safety may lead to being charged with assault with a deadly weapon. This can lead to up to four years in jail.

Driving while drunk can be punished with extra time in jail and mandatory treatment programs.

If you drive recklessly and it’s a felony, you could face the following consequences:

  • You can be locked up in a jail or prison for up to three years.
  • You can get fined up to $10,000.

If the jury thinks the driver is not safe, the judge might take away their driver’s license for a certain amount of time such as:

  • You can get up to 30 days in jail if you get caught driving recklessly.
  • Up to 60 days if you get convicted again.
  • Up to 6 months after the third or subsequent conviction.
  • If someone drives recklessly three times in a year, their license will be suspended for 6 months to life.
  • If someone kills someone while driving recklessly, their license will be suspended for 3 years.

The DMV in California can provide a driver with two points on their license if they drive recklessly. This could make them lose their license or face other legal problems.

If a reckless driver is convicted, their insurance might go up a lot because they are more likely to hurt others. Sometimes, their insurance company might stop paying them.

Concluding Lines

Reckless driving in California is as equal an offense as in any part of the world.

This is because reckless driving can cause severe injuries to both the drivers causing reckless driving, the drivers of the other cars, the seated passengers at the back and front, the pedestrians, and the street animals.

Reckless driving can also lead to casualties to both the driver causing it or the car causing it.

On that note, it is often a concern whether you can or cannot sue a driver who is recklessly driving on the streets or not following the traffic rules.

You can easily go ahead and sue or make a legal claim against the driver who drives recklessly. This could be if they hurt you, cause you to lose money, or even both.

If you see someone driving carelessly or not following traffic rules, call the police and tell them where the car is.

It is better to be a responsible civilian and avoid reckless driving alongside creating drinking and driving scenarios to prevent jail time or penalties.

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Jason Jones

Jason Jones is an experienced editor with a passion for the law. With a 10-year background in legal editing, He has honed his skills in ensuring accuracy and clarity in legal writing. He is dedicated to delivering high-quality content that educates and informs readers on various legal topics.

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