New Hampshire’s Reckless and Negligent Driving Laws and Penalties

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

In New Hampshire, a “reckless driving” conviction generally requires proof that the motorist:

  • drove in a manner that posed a “substantial and unjustifiable” risk to others, and
  • was aware of but disregarded the risk.

There are lots of scenarios that could lead to a reckless driving conviction. But New Hampshire law specifically says that street racing and driving 100 mile per hour or faster are by definition reckless driving.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 265:79, 626:2 (2017).)

Reckless Driving Penalties

The possible penalties of a reckless driving violation are:

  • First offense. For a first reckless driving violation, the motorist is looking at a minimum $500 in fines and a 60-day license suspension.
  • Second or subsequent offense. A second reckless driving conviction carries $750 to $1,000 in fines and a 60-day to one-year license suspension.

A reckless driving conviction will also add six points to a motorist’s driving record. Accumulating too many points can lead to license suspension.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 265:79 (2017); N.H. Code Admin. R. Saf-C 212.03 (2017).)

Negligent Driving

New Hampshire has another, less serious offense called “negligent driving.” Generally, a negligent driving conviction requires proof that the motorist:

  • drove in a manner that endangered a person or property, and
  • wasn’t—but should have been—aware of such danger.

A negligent driving conviction carries $250 to $500 in fines for a first offense and $500 to $1,000 in fines for a second offense. And a negligent driving violation will add four points to the motorist’s driving record.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 265:79-b (2017); N.H. Code Admin. R. Saf-C 212.03 (2017).)

Reckless Driving and DUI Charges (“Wet Reckless”)

In New Hampshire, it’s possible for a person who’s accused of 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.”


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 negligent 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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