Utah’s Reckless and Driving Laws and Penalties

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

Reckless driving is a crime in Utah. A person can be convicted for:

  • driving in a “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property,” or
  • by committing three separate moving violations within a continuous three miles of driving.

The term “willful” refers to conduct that is intentional or purposeful. “Wanton” generally means the person understood but disregarded the consequences of the conduct. And “moving violations” include traffic offenses like speeding, driving under the influence (DUI), and running a red light.

(Utah Code Ann. § 41-6a-528(1) (2017).)

Reckless Driving Penalties

Reckless driving is a class B misdemeanor in Utah. Convicted motorists face up to six months in jail and a maximum $1,000 in fines. For a first reckless driving conviction, the Driver License Division (DLD) can suspend the driver’s license for up to three months upon recommendation of the judge. License suspension is mandatory for a second reckless driving violation within a 12-month period.

A reckless driving conviction will add 80 points to the motorist’s driving record. Generally, accumulating 200 or more points within a three-year period can lead to license suspension.

(Utah Code Ann. §§ 41-6a-528(2), 76-3-204(2), 76-3-301(1)(d) (2017); Utah Admin. Code r. R708-3 (2017).)

Reckless Driving and DUI Charges (“Wet Reckless”)

In some states, it’s possible for a driver who’s charged with a 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.”

Utah law doesn’t prohibit plea bargaining in DUI cases. So, for someone who’s accused of driving under the influence in Utah, plea bargaining for a reckless driving charge is a possibility.

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 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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