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What’s considered reckless driving in Wisconsin?

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Safety is a major concern on this nation’s highways and byways, and Wisconsin takes reckless driving very seriously.

But, what exactly is reckless driving in the first place? Is it as simple as speeding or slowly rolling through a stop sign – or is it something more serious?

More than a simple traffic mistake

Wisconsin defines reckless driving as the negligent operation of a motor vehicle in such a way that it either endangers another person’s life or property or is likely to do so.

Technically, all negligent driving behaviors are illegal, but most ordinary traffic mistakes result in a ticket; they’re not criminal offenses. If you just tap your brakes at a stop sign or are pulled over for going two miles over the speed limit, that’s not exactly reckless. However, you could easily be charged with this offense for things like:

  • Driving under the influence of drugs (including prescriptions or over-the-counter medications)
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol
  • Driving while texting or while otherwise distracted
  • Lane-splitting when you’re on a motorcycle
  • Driving over a railroad crossing while the gates are down or lights are flashing
  • Tailgating, rapidly switching lanes and weaving in and out of traffic
  • Aggressive driving as an act of road rage
  • Driving outside of the traffic lanes, down the berm or through the median strip
  • Just blowing through red lights or stop signs without even pausing
  • Intentionally blocking other vehicles with your vehicle
  • Street racing or “drag” racing on public streets
  • Driving at speeds well above the posted limit
  • Driving at speeds that are excessive for the road conditions

These kinds of actions show a very high degree of negligence, and there’s often a deliberate element to them, as opposed to an ordinary mistake.

If you’re charged with and convicted of reckless driving in this state, you could lose your driving privileges and face up to $10,000 in fines and six years behind bars. However, poor driving and a traffic violation aren’t the same as reckless driving. An experienced defense lawyer can help you minimize the fallout of your charges and help you to secure the best possible outcome for your case given the nuances of your unique circumstances.