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Unlike other traffic violations such as speeding, going through a red light or disobeying a stop sign that are infractions punishable by a fine, reckless driving is a misdemeanor for which you can go to jail. Because it is a misdemeanor, a conviction after trial or after pleading guilty to reckless driving will leave you with a criminal record.

The New York Vehicle and Traffic Law defines the act of reckless driving as operating a motor vehicle in a manner that unreasonably interferes with the ability of other people to make use of public roads or unreasonably endangers other drivers, bicycle riders, pedestrians and others using the highways and streets of the state. Unlike other laws, such as failing to pull over for emergency vehicle or following too closely, reckless driving is not as specific in identifying the conduct that will get you in trouble.

Driving in excess of the posted speed limit might get you a speeding ticket. Traveling at 90 miles per hour while passing other cars by weaving in and out of the traffic lanes could be sufficient evidence of posing an unreasonable danger to other motorists so as to get you arrested for reckless driving.

Reckless driving is more than merely going too fast or not signaling a lane change. A police officer must observe conduct that rises to the level of interfering with other highway users or poses a threat of injury to others or a threat of damage to property. A driver who attempts to change lanes by using only the side mirrors and is involved in an accident with another vehicle might be negligent without being reckless.

If you have been charged with reckless driving, you should seek legal advice from an attorney who is familiar with New York criminal law. An attorney might offer advice and guidance about possible defenses to help you to avoid the harsh penalties and long-term consequences of this criminal offense.

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