Alabama’s Reckless Driving Laws and Penalties

Read about Alabama’s reckless driving laws and the consequences of a conviction.

In Alabama, a person can be convicted of “reckless driving” for driving:

  • “carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard for the rights or safety of persons or property,” or
  • “without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property.”

In other words, a person who drives dangerously, and is at least negligent in doing so, can be convicted of reckless driving.

(Ala. Code § 32-5A-190(a) (2017).)

Reckless Driving Penalties

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in Alabama. The consequences of a conviction depend on the circumstances. But generally, the possible penalties are:

  • First offense. A first reckless driving offense carries five to 90 days in jail and/or $25 to $500 in fines.
  • Repeat offense. Motorists convicted of a second or subsequent reckless driving offense are looking at 10 days to six months jail time and/or $50 to $500 in fines.

In addition to these fines, the court must also impose “assessment” fees ranging from $35 to $1,010.

Any motorist convicted of reckless driving faces a license suspension of up to six months. And a third reckless driving conviction within a 12-month period will result in license revocation. A reckless driving conviction will also add six points to the motorist’s driving record.

(Ala. Code §§ 15-23-17, 32-5A-190(b), 32-5A-195, 32-5A-8 (2017).)

Reckless Driving and DUI Charges (“Wet Reckless”)

In some states, it’s possible for a driver who’s charged with driving under the influence (DUI) to “plea bargain” for a lesser charge. When a DUI is plea bargained down to a reckless driving charge, it’s sometimes called a “wet reckless.”

Alabama law doesn’t restrict or prohibit plea bargaining in DUI cases. So, for someone who’s charged with driving under the influence, convincing a prosecutor to reduce the charge to reckless driving is a possibility.

(Read more about plea bargaining in Alabama DUI cases.)

HOW MUCH TIME WOULD YOU ACTUALLY SPEND IN JAIL?

Generally speaking, sentencing law is complex and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, a statute might list a “minimum” jail sentence that’s longer than the actual amount of time (if any) a defendant will have to spend behind bars. All kinds of factors can affect actual punishment, including the severity of the damage at issue, credits for good in-custody behavior, and jail-alternative work programs.

If you face criminal charges, consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney with command of the rules in your jurisdiction will be able to explain the law as it applies to your situation.

Talk to an Attorney

The consequences of a reckless driving conviction in Alabama can be serious. If you’ve been arrested for or charged with reckless driving, get in contact with an experienced defense attorney. A qualified attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on how best to handle your situation.

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