Texas's Reckless Driving Laws and Penalties

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

"Reckless driving" is a crime in Texas. A person commits the offense by driving a vehicle with "willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property." The term "willful or wanton disregard" refers to the deliberate, conscious indifference to the safety of others.

A person doesn't have to be on a public roadway to be convicted of reckless driving. The statute also applies to some private properties—such as shopping center parking lots—that are open to the general public.

Reckless Driving Penalties

In Texas, reckless driving is a misdemeanor and carries:

  • a maximum fine of $200, and/or
  • up to 30 days in jail.
A reckless driving offense that results in the death of another person could also lead to vehicular manslaughter or homicide charges.

Reckless Driving and DUI Charges ("Wet Reckless")

If you're charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas, "plea bargaining" for a lesser charge is a possibility. The term "wet reckless" refers to a plea bargain where a DWI is reduced to a reckless driving charge.


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 consequences of a reckless driving conviction in Texas are serious, and the facts of every case are different. If you've been charged with reckless driving, get in touch with an experienced Texas lawyer. A qualified attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on the best course of action.

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