Difference Between Careless and Reckless Driving
Often, people are confused about the difference between careless and reckless driving offenses. Both are traffic violations and both are summaries that carry fines. However, careless driving is a less serious offense than reckless driving. The main difference between the two crimes is intent.
Careless driving is defined as "any person who drives a vehicle in careless disregard for the safety of persons or property." 75 Pa.C.S. section 3714. This may occur if a person is driving too fast, texting on a cell phone, illegal lane changes, and so on. Careless driving will cost a driver 3 points on their license and includes a fine. If anyone is injuried or killed by the careless driving, then the driver faces higher fines.
According to 75 Pa.C.S. section 3736, a person is guilty of reckless driving if they "drive any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property." Willful or wanton disregard means that the driver was intentionally acting with disregard or irresponsibility. Reckless driving is a more serious offense than careless driving. It not only involves a fine, but also a 6 month license suspension. However, it does not carry any points. Again, if anyone is injured or killed, the fine increases, and jail time may be imposed.
Is Careless Driving a Misdemeanor?
Careless driving is usually a misdemeanor. Depending on the circumstances such as excess speed, wrong positioning on the road, or injury or death will bump up the offense. There may also be other legal and personal consequences. The police must prove the applicable driver fault and type of driving beyond reasonable doubt.
If you have been charged with careless or reckless driving, contact Emkey Law Firm for a complementary consultation.