Arizona’s Reckless Driving Laws and Penalties

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

In Arizona, it’s a crime to drive a vehicle “in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property.” The reckless driving law doesn’t define what “reckless disregard” means. But generally, an action is reckless when the person is aware the conduct is risky but decides to do it anyway. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 28-693(A) (2017); State v. Oaks, 209 Ariz. 432 (2004).)

Reckless Driving Penalties

The consequences of a reckless driving conviction depend on the circumstances. But the possible penalties are:

  • First offense. If a motorist has no prior reckless driving convictions (DUIs and several other traffic violations also count as priors) that occurred within the past 24 months (two years), the violation generally counts as a first offense. A first offense is a class 2 misdemeanor. Convicted motorists face up to four months in jail and a maximum $750 in fines. The judge can also suspend the driver’s license for up to 90 days.
  • Second offense. If a motorist has a prior conviction that occurred within the past 24 months, reckless driving is a class 1 misdemeanor.  A second offense carries up to six months in jail and a maximum $2,500 in fines. License suspension is mandatory on a second offense. For purposes of the suspension, prior convictions that occurred within the past 84 months (seven years) count. The length of the suspension can’t exceed one year.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 13-707, 13-802, 28-693, 28-3304, 28-3315 (2017).)

Reckless Driving and DUI Charges (“Wet Reckless”)

In Arizona, it’s possible for a driver who’s charged with operating 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.”

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 Arizona 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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