Illinois’s Reckless Driving Laws

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

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

  • driving a vehicle with “a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property,” or
  • knowingly using an incline in a roadway to jump a vehicle.

The statute uses the term “willful” to refer to conduct that’s intentional or purposeful. And “wanton disregard” basically means the person understood the conduct was risky but chose to do it anyway. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 5/11-503(a) (2016).)

Reckless Driving Penalties

The possible consequences of an Illinois reckless driving conviction depend on whether there was:

  • anyone injured
  • who was injured, and
  • the extent of injuries.

But generally, a motorist who’s convicted of reckless driving faces the possibility of jail time, probation, and fines.

Standard Reckless Driving

Reckless driving offenses do not involve injuries are class A misdemeanors. A conviction carries up to one year in jail, a maximum of two years on probation, and fines of up to $2,500. (625 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 5/11-503(b) (2016); 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 5/5-4.5-55 (2016).)

Reckless Driving Involving Injuries

All reckless driving offenses that involve injuries are felonies. The possible penalties for a conviction are:

  • Minor injuries to a child or crossing guard. A reckless driving offense involving minor injuries to a child or an on-duty crossing guard is a class 4 felony. Generally, a class 4 felony carries one to three years in prison, a maximum of 30 months on probation, and up to $25,000 in fines.
  • Serious injuries to another (“aggravated reckless driving”). A driver who causes “great bodily harm” or permanent disability or disfigurement to another while driving recklessly is guilty of “aggravated reckless driving” and a class 4 felony. (See penalties above.)
  • Serious injuries to a child or crossing guard (aggravated reckless driving). A driver who causes “great bodily harm” or permanent disability or disfigurement to a child or an on-duty crossing guard while driving recklessly is guilty of “aggravated reckless driving” and a class 3 felony. A conviction generally carries two to five years in prison, a maximum of 30 months on probation, and up to $25,000 in fines.

(625 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 5/11-503 (2016); 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. §§ 5/5-4.5-40, 5/5-4.5-45, 5/5-4.5-50 (2016).)

Reckless Driving and DUI Charges (“Wet Reckless”)

In Illinois, 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.”

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 Illinois are serious, especially when the offense involved injuries. If you’ve been arrested for or charged with reckless driving, get in contact with an experienced criminal 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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