Cars can be deadly weapons. In Maryland, the definition of reckless driving is driving in a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property OR in a manner that indicates a wanton or willful disregard for the safety or persons or property (Md. Code Ann.Trans.. § 21-901.1). But what does that mean? In short, it means purposely or deliberately driving in an irresponsible and/or dangerous manner or that the manner in which the driver is operating the vehicle indicates that the driver is purposely or deliberately driving irresponsibly and/or dangerously.

Unlike reckless driving, negligent driving means that a driver is driving carelessly, i.e. not paying attention; however, the negligent driver does not intend to harm other persons or property nor does the negligent driver deliberately ignore the safety of other persons or property.

In 2021, traffic fatalities soared to a 15-year high in the first half of 2021 according to the Associated Press. Approximately 43,000 people died in traffic accidents in 2021, according to the federal vehicle safety watchdog NHTSA. Many of these fatalities were caused by reckless driving.

Definition of Reckless Driving And the Penalties From State to State

It’s quite interesting to look at the reckless driving laws by state. Maryland’s transportation code has an offense for reckless driving and one for negligent driving. The maximum fine for driving recklessly is $1,000.00.

There is no license suspension or jail sentence as there would be in a number of other states, at least not directly. However, the six points that can go on your record may still cost you dearly, such as your insurance company increasing your insurance premium and having six points may put your driving privileges at risk. Consider talking to Maryland traffic defense attorney Alex Poberesky to get the full details and to find out how to fight the charges.

Definition of Reckless Driving

A few states mention speeding in their definition of reckless driving, and a couple of states mention how the driver SHOULD behave rather than what should be avoided.

There are very interesting differences when it comes to each state’s penalties for reckless driving. Indiana, Nebraska, and South Dakota, require a suspension of driving privileges but no fine or prison sentence for reckless driving. A few, including Maine and New Hampshire, require a suspension or a fine. Nevada requires fines and community service as well as prison in certain cases.

More Definitions for Reckless Driving

Among the simplest definition of reckless driving is driving in a way that puts people or property at risk. It doesn’t have to be intentional, it may appear intentional, and the penalties vary depending on the damage the reckless driver caused, including whether an accident ensued and whether injuries or death was caused by the accident.

Some of the most egregious violations include swerving into oncoming traffic, ignoring stop lights or stop signs, or driving onto sidewalks or other areas that are off limits to cars. There are plenty of additional reckless maneuvers that endanger other drivers, including tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, and unsafe passing.

More Definitions for Reckless Driving

In Virginia, driving with a defective vehicle also qualifies as reckless driving. After all, defective or faulty brakes or a set of practically bald tires can put you and everyone around you at risk.

In fact, Virginia’s code lists quite a range of additional instances of reckless or improper driving. Among them are the following: passing on the crest of a grade or on a curve, driving while the driver’s view is obstructed, or passing two vehicles that are abreast, unless there are three lanes going in that direction or one of the vehicles is a bicycle, passing a stopped school bus, failing to give proper turn signals, and illegally engaging in any kind of racing unless it is authorized by the owner of the property.


In some other states, the law varies in terms of how far the driver has to go over the speed limit before they risk being charged with speeding or reckless driving. To avoid speeding charges, always make sure you know what qualifies as speeding in your state or in whichever state you are traveling through, or better yet, stick to the speed limit.

In some states, it’s left up to the discretion of the police officer, who can charge you with either reckless driving or speeding for going even just five or ten miles per hour over the posted speed limit.


Maryland also has a category called aggressive driving, which applies if the driver commits at least three out of the following offenses:

Going over the speed limit, tailgating, violating someone else’s right of way, overtaking a car on the right, running a red light, and more.

No matter which of these violations you are charged with, you should hire an experienced traffic defense lawyer to help you fight these charges. They may look like misdemeanors, but they can cost you a lot of money as well as your driving privileges. There is no good reason why you should take a chance on going to court on your own. Call or email us for a free consultation. We will be happy to talk with you.