West Virginia’s Reckless Driving Laws and Penalties

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

Reckless driving is a crime in West Virginia. The offense is defined as driving “in willful or 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.

(W. Va. Code Ann. § 17C-5-3(a) (2017).)

Reckless Driving Penalties

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in West Virginia. The possible penalties of a conviction are:

  • First offense. A first reckless driving conviction carries five to 90 days in jail and/or $25 to $500 in fines.
  • Repeat offense. For a second or subsequent reckless driving conviction, the driver faces ten days to six months in jail and/or $50 to $1,000 in fines. License revocation is mandatory for anyone convicted of reckless driving three times within a period of 24 months.
  • Offenses involving serious injuries. For offenses involving “serious bodily injury” to another person, the driver is looking at ten days to six months in jail and/or $50 to $1,000 in fines. 

A reckless driving conviction will also add six points to the motorist’s driving record. Accumulating 12 or more points within a two-year period leads to license suspension.

(W. Va. Code Ann. §§ 17B-3-5(5), 17C-5-3(c)-(e), 91-5-7 (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 (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.”

West Virginia law doesn’t prohibit plea bargaining in DUI cases. So, for someone who’s accused of drunk driving in West Virginia, convincing a prosecutor to reduce the charge to reckless driving might be possible.

(Read more about plea bargaining in West Virginia DUI 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 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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