In Washington, a person can be convicted of “reckless driving” for driving a vehicle “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” The term “willful” refers to conduct that is intentional or purposeful. And “wanton” generally means the person understood but disregarded the consequences of the conduct.
Reckless driving is a gross misdemeanor in Washington. Anyone convicted of reckless driving is looking at up 364 days in jail and a maximum of $5,250 in fines and penalty assessments. The motorist also faces a license suspension of at least 30 days.
Washington has another offense called “negligent driving in the second degree.” A motorist can be convicted of second-degree negligent driving for operating a motor vehicle in a manner that is both:
As used in the statute, “negligent” means an act that a reasonably careful person wouldn’t do or a failure to do something that a reasonably careful person would do. Washington also has a law that makes embracing another in a manner that "prevents the free and unhampered operation of such vehicle" prima facie evidence of reckless driving.
The consequences of second-degree negligent driving depend on the circumstances. But generally, the possible penalties are:
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 charge, it’s sometimes called a “wet reckless.”
Washington doesn’t restrict plea bargaining in DUI case. So it’s possible for a motorist who’s accused of driving under the influence to plea bargain for a reckless or negligent driving charge.
The consequences of a reckless driving conviction in Washington 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.