Reckless driving refers to dangerous and negligent driving behavior. In Nebraska, reckless driving is a crime that poses a significant risk to the safety of people and property.
Because it is a serious traffic offense, a conviction for reckless driving can result in significant legal consequences, including fines, license suspension, and even jail time.
The penalties are more severe if the offender causes an accident that injures or kills someone, or if the reckless driving is willful.
Punishment for reckless driving often depends on the specific circumstances, the degree of recklessness displayed, and the particular jurisdiction’s laws.
If the state has charged you with reckless driving, contact a Nebraska criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case and explore your options for defense.
You need legal guidance, given the potential severity of the consequences you might face.
Reckless Driving vs. Willful Reckless Driving
While most states have laws addressing reckless driving, the terminology may vary. Nebraska recognizes two types of reckless driving: standard reckless driving and willful reckless driving.
Although both offenses involve dangerous driving behaviors, they differ in intent and severity.
Here’s how Nebraska defines the two types of reckless driving laws:
Driving recklessly in Nebraska is when someone has an indifferent or wanton disregard for the safety or property of others.
The primary factor is the degree of negligence and disregard for safety. A conviction for reckless driving in Nebraska can result in fines and other penalties, including points on your driving record.
Willful Reckless Driving
On the other hand, willful reckless driving involves driving in such a way that shows not just disregard but a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.
Willful reckless driving does not need to result in property damage or injury. An unreasonable risk of harm is sufficient to sustain a conviction.
This implies a higher level of intent and recklessness. As a result, the penalties for willful reckless driving are generally more severe than for standard reckless driving and could include higher fines and even imprisonment.
Simply put, the main difference between the two is the element of willfulness or intent.
Willful reckless driving suggests a deliberate or intentional act of dangerous driving, while standard reckless driving may involve only negligence or indifference.
What Are the Differences Between Reckless Driving and Careless Driving?
Nebraska also has a lesser driving offense called careless driving. Careless driving may involve inattentiveness or a momentary lapse in judgment while driving.
Common examples of careless driving include failing to yield the right-of-way, not using turn signals, following too closely, and distracted driving.
Like reckless driving, careless driving is dangerous and negligent but has a slightly different meaning and lesser consequences.
Nebraska defines careless driving as “Any person who operates any motor vehicle in this state carelessly or without due causation so as to endanger a person or property.”
Simply put, the difference between reckless and careless driving in the eyes of Nebraska law is that careless driving involves an inattentive, forgetful, or inconsiderate driver.
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What Are the Penalties for Reckless Driving in Nebraska?
The first offense of standard or willful reckless driving in Nebraska is a Class III misdemeanor.
A second offense is a Class II misdemeanor, and third and subsequent offenses are Class I misdemeanors.
Penalties include the following:
- First offense: Up to three months in jail and/or a maximum of $500 in fines, plus a possible 30-day to one-year license revocation.
- Second offense: Up to six months in jail and/or a maximum of $1,000 in fines, plus 60-day to two-year license revocation and 60-day impoundment of the vehicle if registered to the driver.
- Third offense: Up to a year in jail and/or a maximum of $1,000 in fines, plus a one-year license revocation.
In addition to the above, a conviction of reckless driving will result in 5 driving record points. A conviction for willful reckless driving will result in 6 driving record points. These points will remain on your driving record for five years.
What Are the Penalties for Careless Driving in Nebraska?
Careless driving penalties are less severe and are classified as infractions rather than misdemeanors.
- First offense: Up to $100 in fines.
- Second offense: If within one year of the first offense, the maximum fine increases to $200.
- Third offense: If within one year of the previous offense, the maximum fine increases to $300.
A conviction of careless driving in Nebraska will result in 4 points assessed to your driving record.
What Makes Reckless Driving So Dangerous?
Reckless driving disregards the rules of the road, endangers the safety of other drivers and pedestrians, and often results in more severe accidents.
The following reasons show what makes reckless driving so hazardous:
- Increased collision risk: Reckless driving often involves speeding, aggressive maneuvers, and running red lights or stop signs. These actions make it more likely that a driver will collide with other vehicles, objects, or pedestrians.
- Reduced reaction time: Reckless drivers may react slowly to unexpected situations because they are not paying full attention to the road or are driving at speeds that exceed their ability to respond effectively.
- Greater severity of collisions: Reckless driving accidents tend to cause more severe injuries. Higher speeds and aggressive behaviors can lead to more significant property damage, injuries, and even fatalities.
- Risk to pedestrians and cyclists: Reckless driving endangers not only other drivers but also pedestrians and cyclists. Failing to yield the right of way, speeding in residential areas, and other reckless behaviors can put vulnerable road users at serious risk.
- Loss of control: Many reckless behaviors, such as excessive speeding or aggressive weaving between lanes, increase the likelihood of losing control of the vehicle. This can lead to rollovers or other types of accidents.
How Can an Attorney Help with a Reckless Driving Charge?
If the court convicts you, a charge of reckless driving can result in fines, suspension of your license, jail time, and an official criminal record.
You may face additional consequences, including increased auto insurance premiums or the inability to continue working in professions that require a clean driving history or commercial driver’s license.
Moreover, a prior conviction for reckless driving can increase the likelihood of enhanced penalties for subsequent criminal convictions.
An experienced criminal lawyer can protect your rights throughout the legal process and ensure you get the best possible outcome in your case.
Contact a Nebraska Criminal Defense Lawyer
At Berry Law, we represent people facing a variety of criminal charges. We can advise you and safeguard your future by building a strong defense on your behalf.
A qualified lawyer can help you understand the nuances of the charges against you and guide you through the legal process to strive for the best possible outcome.