Arkansas’s Reckless Driving Laws and Penalties

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

In Arkansas, a person can be convicted of “reckless driving” for driving “in such a manner as to indicate a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” The term “wanton” generally means the person understood the conduct was risky but decided to do it anyway.

(Ark. Code Ann. § 27-50-308(a) (2017).)

Reckless Driving Penalties

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

  • First offense. Motorists convicted of a first reckless driving offense face five to 90 days in jail and/or up to $500 in fines.
  • First offense involving injuries. First reckless driving offenses that involve injuries to another person carry 30 to 90 days in jail and/or $100 to $1,000 in fines.
  • Repeat offense. Motorists convicted of a second or subsequent reckless driving offense within a three-year period are looking at 30 days to six months jail time and/or $500 to $1,000 in fines. And any driver who racks up a third reckless driving conviction within a period of 12 months faces license revocation.
  • Repeat offense involving injuries. If a second or subsequent reckless driving offense involves injuries, the convicted driver faces 60 days to one year in jail and/or $500 to $1,000 in fines.

A reckless driving conviction will also add eight points to a motorist’s driving record. Accumulating 14 or more points within a three-year period can result in a three-month license suspension.

(Ark. Code Ann. §§ 27-50-302(a), 27-50-308(b) (2017).)

Reckless Driving and DWI Charges (“Wet Reckless”)

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

Arkansas law prohibits all plea bargaining in DWI cases. So, it isn’t possible for someone who’s arrested for driving while intoxicated to plea bargain for a wet reckless or any other lesser charge. (Ark. Code Ann. § 5-65-107 (2017).)

(Read more about the prohibition on plea bargaining in Arkansas DWI 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 Arkansas can be serious, especially if the offense involved injuries. 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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