Instead of “reckless driving,” Vermont uses the term “negligent operation.” The offense is divided into two types that carry different penalties: ordinary negligent operation and grossly negligent operation.
The difference between ordinary and grossly negligent operation is a matter of degree. A person can be convicted of ordinary negligent operation by failing to “exercise ordinary care” while driving. A grossly negligent operation conviction, on the other hand, requires proof that the motorist’s driving amounted to a “gross deviation from the care that a reasonable person would have exercised.”
The possible penalties of an ordinary negligent operation conviction are:
For a grossly negligent operation violation, the consequences are more severe. The possible penalties for a conviction include:
A negligent operation conviction will also add ten demerit points to the motorist’s driving record. The motorist’s driver’s license will be suspended for 30 days for a first offense, 90 days on a second offense, and six months for a third violation.
In some states, it’s possible for a driver who’s charged with driving under the influence (DUI), to “plea bargain” for a lesser charge. When a DUI is plea-bargained down to a reckless driving (or negligent operation) charge, it’s sometimes called a “wet reckless.”
Vermont law doesn’t prohibit plea bargaining in DUI cases. So, for someone who’s accused of driving under the influence in Vermont, plea bargaining for a negligent operation charge is a possibility.
The facts of every case are different. If you’ve been arrested for or charged with negligent operation, 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.