Minnesota's Reckless and Careless Driving Laws and Penalties

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

Reckless driving is a crime in Minnesota. This article explains Minnesota's reckless driving laws, including the penalties you'll face for a conviction.

What Is Considered "Reckless Driving" in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, reckless driving is defined as operating a vehicle in a manner that poses a "substantial and unjustifiable risk ... to another or another's property" where the driver is aware of but consciously disregards the risk. A driver can also be convicted of reckless driving for engaging in street racing. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 169.13.)

Minnesota's Reckless Driving Penalties

The consequences of a Minnesota reckless driving conviction depend on the circumstances. But the possible penalties are provided below.

Fines and Jail Time for Standard Reckless Driving Convictions in Minnesota

Generally, reckless driving is a misdemeanor. Convicted motorists face up to 90 days in jail and/or $1,000 in fines.

Fines and Jail Time for Reckless Driving Involving Injuries in Minnesota

A reckless driving offender who causes "serious bodily injury" to another person can be convicted of a gross misdemeanor. A conviction carries up to one year in jail and/or $3,000 in fines.

License Suspension for Reckless Driving in Minnesota

Though it's not mandatory, a reckless driving conviction can lead to a license suspension of up to one year.

What Is Considered "Careless Driving" in Minnesota?

Minnesota has another offense called "careless driving." The offense is defined as operating or stopping a vehicle "carelessly or heedlessly in disregard of the rights of others, or in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any property or any person."

The consequences of a careless driving conviction are the same as those for a standard reckless driving violation (see above).

Reducing a DWI Charge to Reckless Driving in Minnesota

In Minnesota, it's possible for a driver who's charged with driving while impaired (DWI) to "plea bargain" for a lesser charge. When a DWI is plea-bargained down to a reckless driving charge, it's sometimes called a "wet reckless."

Talk to a Minnesota Defense Attorney

The facts of every case are different. If you've been arrested for or charged with reckless or careless 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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