Reckless Driving FAQ

by Adam Rosenblum

How much does a ticket for reckless driving in New York cost?
A: A ticket for reckless driving in NY can cost anywhere between $100 and $300 (depending on how reckless you were), for your first offense. You will also incur a surcharge of approximately $90. Most importantly, it will add 5 points onto your license and cause your insurance to go up.

Is reckless driving merely a traffic violation?
A
: No; reckless driving in NY is a misdemeanor. This means that if you get a ticket for reckless driving and are convicted of it, you will have a criminal record. Moreover, a police officer will be able to arrest you and have you imprisoned for up to 30 days for your first offense (90 days if it was your second and 180 days if it was your third).

What constitutes reckless driving?
A: According to the New York legislature, reckless driving means “driving or using a motor vehicle … in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.” Please note that this law is written rather vaguely for a reason. Police officers often use it as a catch-all for almost any unreasonable act or omission they witness you doing while driving.

Does swerving in and out of lanes count as reckless driving?
A: It depends, but, in all likelihood, yes. Driving erratically in and out of lanes while surrounded by cars can be enough for an officer to pull you over and issue a ticket for reckless driving.

Can I get charged with reckless driving if I am talking on my cell phone?
A: Yes. Be very careful! According to New York law, police officers have the authority to issue a ticket for reckless driving if they see you talking on your cell phone. Remember, New York also has a law prohibiting the use of a cell phone while driving. This means, you can end up getting two tickets instead of just one.

How do I get out of a Reckless Driving ticket? 
A
: Most prosecutors and judges are aware that police officers use their discretion when issuing a reckless driving ticket. As such, they realize that the officer probably could have issued a different ticket that would not result in a criminal record or count as a misdemeanor. Therefore, by hiring a competent NY traffic ticket attorney, you can try to negotiate a more favorable plea (e.g. one that would not involve a criminal record or points on your license).