Nashville Criminal Attorneys Explain: Reckless Driving in Tennessee

What is Reckless Driving in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, you can be charged with reckless driving if you have driven a vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other people, or property. In addition, anyone who drives a motorcycle with the front wheel off the ground and in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others can be charged and convicted of reckless driving.

What is the Punishment for Reckless Driving in Tennessee?

Reckless Driving in Tennessee is a Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines not to exceed $500.

How fast do I have to be going to be charged with Reckless Driving in Tennessee?

The law does not set a threshold of speed to be considered reckless driving; rather the key question is whether your driving behavior was with disregard for the safety of others. Speed almost always is an important factor, however.  For example, if you were driving 90 mph on the interstate by yourself and with no one else around (other than the officer who pulled you over), you would likely have a strong argument that you are not guilty of reckless driving, but rather are only guilty of speeding. In contrast, if you were driving 90 mph on the interstate with children in the car and in heavy traffic, your argument that you are not guilty of reckless driving becomes much weaker.

Are DUI and Reckless Driving similar offenses in Tennessee?

No. They are only similar in the sense that both are driving related offenses and the purpose, like all driving offenses, are to protect others from dangerous drivers. DUI offenses however carry much stiffer penalties. Generally, a first, second or third offense DUI is a Class A Misdemeanor. A fourth offense DUI in Tennessee is a Class E Felony. Reckless driving is only a Class B Misdemeanor. All DUI convictions carry mandatory jail time whereas most people convicted of Reckless Driving will never do any jail time. DUI convictions are also much more likely to impact your ability to get a job.

Why are DUI charges in Tennessee often reduced to Reckless Driving in Tennessee?

When prosecutors are analyzing a DUI charge they are examining the facts surrounding the arrest and internally gauge the likelihood of a conviction. If a DUI arrest has flaws, or if the evidence is shown to be weak, they will often offer a plea agreement of reckless driving. These ‘flaws’ can range from potential 4th Amendment issues (such as whether there was probable cause for the stop) to weak facts (where the person showed no obvious signs of impairment, and refused to provide a breath sample).

If you have been charged with Reckless Driving in Tennessee, contact our Nashville Criminal Attorneys at Shipman & Crim today for a free case consultation.  

Also see:

Nashville DUI Attorneys Explain: Don’t want to do jail time for first offense DUI in Tennessee?

Nashville DUI Attorneys Explain: New DUI Law for 2012 in Tennessee

Nashville DUI Attorneys Explain: Can you get a DUI on a bicycle in Tennessee?









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