Illinois Traffic Violation and DUI Lawyers

Reckless Driving


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In Illinois, a driver commits the offense of Reckless Driving in two instances:

(1) When he or she drives any vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property; or

(2) knowingly drives a vehicle and uses an incline in the roadway, such as a railroad crossing, bridge approach, or a hill, to cause the vehicle to become airborne.

The second instance is typically more objective and easier to prove in Court. However, the first instance is the more typical charge and its definition is very broad and is certainly more difficult for the common layperson to understand.

The key words in the definition are “willful” and “wanton.” These terms are referencing the concept that the driver of the vehicle knowingly or purposely drove the vehicle in a manner that was dangerous to those in the vehicle or on the roadway.

It is important to point out that the prosecutor will not have to prove intent for this charge. This means that in order to be found guilty of this offense, there is no need to prove that an individual intended to drive the vehicle in a “reckless” manner. Another term you may hear with regards to Reckless Driving is “maliciousness” or “cruel.”

Courts in Illinois have tried to provide more of a framework when trying to determine what Reckless Driving is and what it is not. Typically, speeding alone is not sufficient to prove Reckless Driving.

Our office typically sees Reckless Driving cases where an accident of some kind occurred, combined with eyewitness testimony of a high speed and/or “weaving” in and out of traffic. This type of driving is especially problematic when it occurs in a school or construction zone. It should be noted that Reckless Driving and Street Racing (or Drag Racing) are two separate offenses and may be charged together or separately.

Reckless Driving is a Class “A” Misdemeanor offense, meaning an individual charged under this section of the law (625 ILCS 5/11-503), may be subject up to a year in jail and fined up to $2,500 plus court costs. The charge becomes even more serious, and the possible penalty increases, if any person is seriously hurt or killed.

Our attorneys have years of experience dealing with this type of criminal offense and can assist you in understanding the process and the best way to go about defending your case to ensure the best possible result.

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