Oregon’s Reckless Driving Laws and Penalties

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

In Oregon, it’s a crime to drive “recklessly” in a manner that endangers the safety of persons or property. The term “recklessly” means the person understood the conduct was risky but decided to do it anyway.

(Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 161.085, 811.140 (2017).)

Reckless Driving Penalties

The consequences of an Oregon reckless driving conviction depend on the circumstances. But generally, reckless driving is a class A misdemeanor.  A conviction carries up to a year in jail and a maximum $6,250 in fines. The convicted motorist also faces license suspension for a period of:

  • 90 days for a first offense
  • one year for a second offense within five years, and
  • three years for a third offense within five years.

(Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 161.615, 161.635, 809.411, 809.428 (2017).)

Careless Driving

Oregon has another offense called “careless driving.” A motorist can be convicted of the offense for driving in a manner that endangers the safety of persons or property. Unlike with reckless driving—which requires proof that the driver knowingly did something risky behind the wheel—motorists can be convicted of careless driving without realizing the dangerousness of their driving.

But the penalties for careless driving are generally less severe than those for a reckless driving conviction. Possible penalties for careless driving include:

  • Careless driving. Usually, careless driving is a class B traffic violation and carries $130 to $1,000 in fines.
  • Careless driving involving an accident. A motorist who causes an accident while driving carelessly is guilty of a class A traffic violation and is looking at $220 to $2,000 in fines.  
  • Careless driving involving injuries or fatalities. Careless driving offenders who cause “serious physical injury” or death to another person face $200 to $2,000 in fines, 100 to 200 hours of community service, and must complete a traffic safety course.

(Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 153.018, 153.021, 811.135 (2017).)

Reckless Driving and DUI Charges (“Wet Reckless”)

In some states, it’s possible for a driver who’s charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) 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.”

However, Oregon law prohibits plea bargaining in DUII cases. So, if you’re charged with a DUII in Oregon, plea bargaining for a wet reckless generally isn’t an option. (Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 813.170 (2017).)

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 Oregon can be serious. 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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