Oregon's Reckless and Careless Driving Laws and Penalties

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

In Oregon, unsafe driving can result in "reckless driving" or "careless driving" charges. This article explains how Oregon defines reckless and careless driving and the penalties you'll face for a conviction of one of these offenses.

What's Considered "Reckless Driving" in Oregon?

Oregon defines reckless driving as:

  • recklessly driving a vehicle in a manner that endangers the safety of persons or property, or
  • intentionally breaking the traction of the vehicle's rear tires or spinning the vehicle's rear tires by pressing the accelerator while two or more people are gathered for the purpose of watching the conduct.

The term "recklessly" means the person understood the conduct was risky but decided to do it anyway. (Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 811.140.)

Oregon's Reckless Driving Penalties

The consequences of an Oregon reckless driving conviction depend on the circumstances. But generally, reckless driving is a class A misdemeanor and carries fines, possible jail time, and license suspension.

Fines and Jail Time for Reckless Driving Convictions in Oregon

A conviction carries up to a year in jail and a maximum of $6,250 in fines.

License Suspension for Reckless Driving in Oregon

The convicted motorist also faces license suspension for a period of:

  • 90 days for a first offense
  • one year for a second offense within five years, and
  • three years for a third offense within five years.

However, a motorist might be able to obtain a hardship license, which affords limited driving privileges during the suspension period.

What's Considered "Careless Driving" in Oregon?

Oregon has another offense called "careless driving." A motorist can be convicted of the offense for driving in a manner that endangers the safety of persons or property. Unlike with reckless driving—which requires proof that the driver knowingly did something risky behind the wheel—motorists can be convicted of careless driving without realizing the dangerousness of their driving. (Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 811.135.)

Oregon's Careless Driving Penalties

The penalties for careless driving are generally less severe than those for a reckless driving conviction. Possible penalties for careless driving are provided below for several types of violations.

Fines for Standard Careless Driving Violations in Oregon

Usually, careless driving is a class B traffic violation and carries $130 to $1,000 in fines.

Fines for Careless Driving Involving an Accident in Oregon

A motorist who causes an accident while driving carelessly is guilty of a class A traffic violation and is looking at $220 to $2,000 in fines.

Fines and Community Service for Careless Driving Involving Injuries or Deaths in Oregon

Careless driving offenders who cause "serious physical injury" or death to another person face $200 to $2,000 in fines, 100 to 200 hours of community service, and must complete a traffic safety course.

Reckless Driving and DUI Charges ("Wet Reckless") in Oregon

In some states, it's possible for a driver who's charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) 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."

However, Oregon law prohibits plea bargaining in DUII cases. So, if you're charged with a DUII in Oregon, plea bargaining for a wet reckless generally isn't an option.

Talk to an Oregon Defense Attorney

The consequences of a reckless driving conviction in Oregon 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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