New Mexico's Reckless Driving Laws and Penalties

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

New Mexico defines "reckless driving" as driving:

  • "carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard for the rights or safety of others," and
  • "without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger a person or property."

Basically, a person can be convicted of reckless driving for operating a vehicle in a manner that puts people or property in danger.

Reckless Driving Penalties

The consequences of a reckless driving violation depend on the circumstances. But generally, reckless driving is a misdemeanor and the possible penalties are:

  • First offense. For a first reckless driving violation, the motorist is looking at five to 90 days in jail and/or $25 to $100 in fines.
  • Second or subsequent offense. Anyone who's convicted of a second or subsequent reckless driving offense faces ten days to six months in jail and/or $50 to $1,000 in fines.

The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division can suspend the license of any motorist convicted of reckless driving for up to 90 days. A reckless driving conviction will also add six demerit points to a motorist's driving record. Accumulating seven or more points within a year can lead to license suspension.

Careless Driving

New Mexico has another offense called "careless driving" that's less serious than reckless driving. A motorist can be convicted of the offense for driving "in a careless, inattentive or imprudent manner, without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, weather and road conditions and all other attendant circumstances."

The difference between reckless and careless driving is a matter of degree, and the dividing line isn't always clear. Generally, reckless driving involves the operation of a vehicle that's obviously dangerous, whereas more subtle instances of bad driving might be in the careless driving category.

Careless driving, like reckless driving, is a misdemeanor. Motorists who are convicted of careless driving face up to 90 days in jail and/or a maximum $300 in fines. A careless driving conviction will add three points to a motorist's driving record.

Reckless Driving and DUI Charges ("Wet Reckless")

In some states, it's possible for a person who's accused of driving under the influence (DUI) in New Mexico 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."

New Mexico law restricts plea bargain in some DUI cases. So whether a DUI can be pleaded down to a wet reckless depends on the circumstances.

Talk to an 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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