June 11, 2024

What Is Reckless Driving?

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense in Wisconsin. However, if certain aggravating factors are present, this type of criminal charge can easily turn into a felony, and substantially greater penalties and punishments may be imposed.

If you are a victim of a car accident due to a reckless driver, you might have the legal grounds to pursue a personal injury claim against them. A skilled personal injury lawyer can guide you through the complexities of your case, explain your legal options, and develop effective legal strategies to maximize your compensation and hold the negligent driver responsible for their actions. All drivers at the end of the day, must operate their vehicles in a careful and prudent manner.

Contact the dedicated personal injury lawyers at Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs, LLP (GTW) for a free consultation to learn more. Here is everything you need to know about what constitutes reckless driving and how a personal injury attorney can help.

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Reckless Driving and Its Potential Consequences

When a driver fails to operate their motor vehicle in a careful manner and disregards the safety of other motorists, pedestrians, or property, they can be charged with reckless driving or dangerous driving. Reckless drivers can lose their driving privileges as this is a criminal offense and not a negligent driving charge such as careless driving or distracted driving.

According to Wisconsin state laws, a reckless driving conviction can result in the following punishments if it does not result in bodily harm. Depending on the circumstances, a minimum fine of at least $50 or a maximum fine of $400 can be imposed. If other traffic violations are present, such as driving above the posted speed limit, the person who drives can face enhanced penalties, including license suspension and jail time.

Under Wisconsin law, driving recklessly is punishable even if it does not result in a collision or cause any bodily injury or property damage. However, when reckless driving does cause bodily injuries, the penalties are significantly higher. A reckless driver could face up to six years in prison/ county jail and $10,000 in fines for causing injury due to reckless driving. Explore GTW’s expertise in traffic law.

Types of Behavior That May Be Considered Reckless Driving in Wisconsin

A reckless driving charge can occur when a driver’s behavior poses a significant risk to others on the road by engaging in the following behaviors:

Excessive speeding

Speeding is one factor that may constitute reckless driving and has much to do with the speed limit in the area. Depending on the extent of the speed limit violation, it can be considered a minor misdemeanor or result in a much greater punishment. In Wisconsin, a driver’s license will be suspended if they exceed the speed limit by at least 25 miles per hour. Some statistics showcase that teens are often more involved in speed accidents than other drivers, accounting for around 50% of car crashes.

Aggressive driving

Operating a vehicle aggressively, such as weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, or disregarding traffic signals and signs, is considered aggressive driving and can be prosecuted as reckless driving. It is a clear behavior of driving with a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of others.


Street racing can result in several traffic violations, including reckless driving. Reckless driving cases in these situations can result in a class C or class B misdemeanor conviction.

Drunk or impaired driving

Drivers operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can also be charged with reckless driving.

Reckless maneuvers

Reckless driving involves performing dangerous maneuvers that endanger the safety of others, such as suddenly changing lanes, running red lights, or driving on sidewalks.

Associated Penalties and Potential Long-term Effects of Reckless Driving Convictions

A reckless driving charge in Wisconsin can result in hefty fines, license suspension, probation, mandatory driver improvement programs, jail time, community service hours, and other penalties, depending on the circumstances of the case. This charge can affect a driver’s records, insurance rates, and future employment prospects.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

A personal injury attorney focusing on reckless driving laws can help you with your personal injury claim against a reckless driver. You do not have to suffer due to the willful or wanton disregard of a reckless driver, but instead, hold them accountable for their actions.

In most instances, injured victims can seek compensation for their medical bills, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other emotional and physical trauma caused by the reckless driver.

Your lawyer will analyze the evidence of your case, conduct an investigation, and negotiate on your behalf with the other parties involved in your car accident claim. At Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs, LLP, our dedicated car accident lawyers will highlight all of your damages and thoroughly analyze the unique circumstances of your case to achieve fair compensation for the damages and losses incurred. Contact our law firm today for a free consultation on your case and to learn more.

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