Indiana’s Reckless Driving Laws and Penalties

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

Indiana defines “reckless driving” as operating a vehicle recklessly and:

  • going at such an unreasonably high or low rate of speed that it endangers the safety of persons or property or blocks the proper flow of traffic
  • passing another vehicle on a slope or curve where visibility is limited to less than 500 feet, or
  • passing a stopped school bus that has an arm-signal device in extended position.

Generally, an act is done “recklessly” when the person knows or should know the conduct is risky but decides to do it anyway. (Ind. Code Ann. § 9-21-8-52 (2017); Taylor v. State, 457 N.E.2d 594 (1983).)

Reckless Driving Penalties

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

  • Standard reckless driving. Reckless driving offenses that involve driving too fast or slow or unlawfully passing another car on a slope or curve are generally class C misdemeanors. A conviction carries up to 60 days in jail and a maximum $500 in fines.
  • Passing a school bus. Where a reckless driving offense involves unlawfully passing a school bus, it’s a class B misdemeanor. Convicted motorists face up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $1,000 in fines.
  • Reckless driving with property damage. Reckless driving offenses that involve property damage are class B misdemeanors (see penalties above). In addition to the other penalties, a judge can suspend the motorist’s license for up to a year.
  • Reckless driving with injuries. A motorist who causes injury to another person while driving recklessly is guilty of a class A misdemeanor. The consequences of a conviction include up to one year in jail, a maximum $5,000 in fines, and a license suspension of no more than one year.

(Ind. Code Ann. §§ 9-21-8-52, 35-50-3-2, 35-50-3-3, 35-50-3-4 (2017).)

Reckless Driving and OWI Charges (“Wet Reckless”)

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

When a driver who was originally charged with operating while intoxicated ends of entering a plea to a reckless driving charge, in addition to the reckless driving penalties, there's a $200 "alcohol and drug countermeasures" fee. (Ind. Code Ann. § 33-37-5-10(b) (2017).)


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 Indiana can be serious, especially if the offense involves property damage or 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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