Mississippi’s Reckless and Careless Driving Laws and Penalties

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

In Mississippi, a person can be convicted of “reckless driving” for operating a vehicle in “willful or a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” The term “willful” refers to conduct that is intentional or purposeful. And “wanton” generally means the person understood but disregarded the consequences of the conduct.

(Miss. Code. Ann. § 63-3-1201 (2017).)

Reckless Driving Penalties

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

  • First offense. A first reckless driving offense carries $5 to $100 in fines.
  • Repeat offense. For a second or subsequent reckless driving conviction, the motorist is looking at up to ten days in jail and/or a maximum $500 in fines. And for a third reckless driving violation within a 12-month period, there’s a one-year license revocation.

In addition to the fines for a reckless driving conviction, the judge must impose a $90.50 assessment fee.

(Miss. Code. Ann. §§ 63-1-51, 63-3-1201 (2017).)

Careless Driving

Mississippi has another offense called “careless or imprudent driving.” The offense is defined as driving “in a careless or imprudent manner, without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corner, traffic and use of the streets and highways and all other attendant circumstances.”

The difference between reckless and careless driving is a matter of degree, and the dividing line isn’t always clear. Basically, reckless driving involves the operation of a vehicle that’s obviously dangerous, whereas more subtle instances of bad driving might be in the careless driving category.

A careless driving conviction carries $5 to $50 in fines and a $90.50 assessment fee.

(Miss. Code. Ann. §§ 63-1-51, 63-3-1213 (2017).)

Reckless Driving and OUI Charges (“Wet Reckless”)

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

Mississippi law prohibits prosecutors from reducing OUI charges. So, for someone accused of operating under the influence in Mississippi, plea bargaining for a lesser charge typically isn’t a possibility. (Miss. Code. Ann. § 63-11-39 (2017).)

(Read more about plea bargaining in Mississippi OUI 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 facts of every case are different. If you’ve been arrested for or charged with reckless or careless 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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