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.
Oregon defines reckless driving as:
The term "recklessly" means the person understood the conduct was risky but decided to do it anyway. (Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 811.140.)
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.
A conviction carries up to a year in jail and a maximum of $6,250 in fines.
The convicted motorist also faces license suspension for a period of:
However, a motorist might be able to obtain a hardship license, which affords limited driving privileges during the suspension period.
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.)
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.
Usually, careless driving is a class B traffic violation and carries $130 to $1,000 in fines.
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.
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.
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.
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.