New York's Reckless Driving Laws

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

In New York, a person can be convicted of “reckless driving” for driving a vehicle “in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.”

(N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 1212 (2017).)

Reckless Driving Penalties

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

  • First offense. For a first reckless driving conviction, a motorist faces up to 30 days in jail and/or $100 to $300 in fines.
  • Second offense. For a second reckless driving conviction within an 18-month period, a motorist faces up to 90 days in jail and/or $100 to $525 in fines.
  • Third offense. For a third reckless driving conviction within an 18-month period, a motorist faces up to 180 days in jail and/or $100 to $1,125 in fines.

A reckless driving conviction will also add five demerit points to a motorist’s driving record and likely lead to insurance rate increases.

Reckless Driving and DUI Charges (“Wet Reckless”)

In some states, it’s possible for a driver who’s charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) 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.”

In New York, most plea bargaining is prohibited in DWI cases. So it’s typically not possible to reduce a DWI to a reckless driving charge.

Talk to an Attorney

The consequences of a reckless driving conviction in New York can be serious. If you’ve been arrested for or charged with reckless driving, get in contact with an experienced criminal 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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