North Dakota's Reckless Driving Laws and Penalties

Read about North Dakota’s reckless driving laws and the consequences of a conviction.

North Dakota defines “reckless driving” as driving:

  • “in reckless disregard for the rights or safety of others,” or
  • “without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or the property of another.”

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

(N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 39-08-03 (2017).)

Reckless Driving Penalties

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

  • Standard reckless driving. Most reckless driving violations are class B misdemeanors. Convicted motorists face up to 30 days in jail and/or a maximum $1,500 in fines.
  • Aggravated reckless driving. A reckless driving offender who causes injury to another person can be convicted of aggravated reckless driving. A conviction is a class A misdemeanor and carries up to a year in jail and/or a maximum $3,000 in fines.

A reckless driving conviction will add eight demerit points to a motorist’s driving record. And an aggravated reckless driving violation is 12 points. Accumulating too many points can lead to license suspension.

Reckless Driving and DUI Charges (“Wet Reckless”)

In North Dakota, it’s possible for a person who’s accused of 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.”


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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