In Nebraska, reckless driving is a crime and can lead to serious consequences. This article explains how Nebraska defines reckless driving and the penalties you'll face for a conviction.
Nebraska has two types of "reckless driving": standard reckless driving and "willful" reckless driving." Standard reckless driving involves operating a vehicle with "an indifferent or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property." Willful reckless driving, on the other hand, is defined as driving in a manner that indicates a "willful"—meaning intentional—disregard for the safety of persons or property. (Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 60-6,213, Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 60-6,214.)
In reality, the dividing line between the two offenses isn't all that clear. Both types of reckless driving involve awareness, on the part of the motorist, that the driving is dangerous. But the offenses categorized as "willful" might be the more egregious instances of reckless driving where the driver has a high level of culpability.
The consequences of a Nebraska reckless driving conviction depend on the circumstances. But the possible penalty rangers are provided below.
A first standard reckless driving offense is a class III misdemeanor. Convicted motorists face up to three months in jail and/or a maximum of $500 in fines.
A first willful reckless driving offense is a class III misdemeanor and carries up to three months in jail and/or a maximum of $500 in fines. Convicted motorists are also looking at a 30-day to one-year license suspension.
All second reckless driving offenses are class II misdemeanors. A conviction carries up to six months in jail and/or a maximum of $1,000 in fines. The judge must suspend the driver's license for a period of 60 days to two years. If the vehicle is registered to the driver, the judge is also required to order impoundment for 60 days to one year.
All third reckless driving offenses are class I misdemeanors. A conviction carries up to a year in jail and/or a maximum of $1,000 in fines. The judge must suspend the driver's license for one year.
A standard reckless driving conviction will add five demerit points to the motorist's driving record, and a willful reckless driving violation is six points. Accumulating 12 or more points within a two-year period can lead to license suspension.
Nebraska has another offense called "careless driving." The offense is defined as driving "carelessly or without due caution so as to endanger a person or property." With careless driving—in contrast to reckless driving—the motorist can be convicted without having had an awareness of the dangers posed by the driving. In other words, a motorist can violate the law by negligently driving in a way that endangers a person or property.
Careless driving penalties are less serious than those for reckless driving. Careless driving is a traffic infraction rather than a misdemeanor. The maximum fine for a first offense is $100. For a second offense within a one-year period, the fine can be as much as $200. And a driver who picks up a third offense within a year can be fined up to $300.
A careless driving conviction adds four points to the motorist's driving record.
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."
Nebraska law doesn't prohibit plea bargaining in DUI cases. So, for someone who's accused of driving under the influence in Nebraska, plea bargaining for a reckless driving charge is a possibility.
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.