Louisiana's Reckless Operation (Driving) Laws and Penalties

Read about Louisiana’s reckless operation laws and the consequences of a conviction.

Reckless operation of a vehicle is a crime in Louisiana. The offense is defined as driving in a “criminally negligent or reckless manner.” In other words, a person can be convicted of reckless operation for driving in a way that a reasonably careful person would know is dangerous.

Reckless Operation Penalties

In Louisiana, reckless operation is a misdemeanor. The possible penalties for a violation are:

  • First offense. A first reckless operation conviction carries up to 90 days in jail and/or $200 in fines.
  • Repeat offense. For a second or subsequent reckless operation conviction, the driver faces ten days to six months in jail and/or $25 to $500 in fines.

Motorists who are convicted of three reckless operation offenses within a period of 12 months are looking at a 24-month license suspension.

Reckless Driving and OWI Charges (“Wet Reckless”)

In some states, it’s possible for a driver who’s charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI) to “plea bargain” for a lesser charge. When an OWI is plea bargained down to a reckless driving charge, it’s sometimes called a “wet reckless.”

Louisiana law doesn’t prohibit plea bargaining in OWI cases. So, for someone who’s accused of drunk driving in Louisiana, convincing a prosecutor to reduce the charge to reckless operation might be possible. However, when a reckless operation offense involved alcohol, the judge must impose an additional $100 in fines.


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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