Reckless driving in Delaware comes with a mandatory penalty of $100 to $300 and/or 10 to 30 days of jail time for first offenses. Repeat reckless driving convictions come with a fine of $300 to $1000 and/or 30 to 60 days in prison, plus six demerit points.
Speeding can earn you a ticket—but reckless driving is a more serious offense. Reckless driving covers a variety of infractions from running a red light to racing. Penalties include heavy fines, demerits on your driving record, and even jail time.
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How does Delaware define reckless driving?
The Code of Delaware defines reckless driving as when a person “drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
What does this mean? “Willful” means that the driver is breaking traffic laws with full knowledge that they are doing so. “Wanton disregard” means that the driver is not managing their vehicle safely and is putting other drivers and pedestrians at risk.
Reckless driving is intentionally dangerous.
Some examples of reckless driving include:
- Extreme speeding
- Sudden braking
- Failure to yield
- Running red lights
- Erratic driving
Because of the dangerous nature of reckless driving, it’s easy to see why reckless driving charges are a serious matter and come with severe penalties.
Key Takeaway Reckless driving is any traffic violation that is intentionally dangerous and puts others at risk
What are the penalties for reckless driving in Delaware?
Reckless driving is a misdemeanor and comes with fines and jail time depending on the charges. First reckless driving offenses and repeat offenses face different penalties.
- First offense: If it’s your first reckless driving conviction, the penalties are 10 to 30 days in jail and/or fines of $100 to $300
- Repeat offense: If you’ve already been convicted for reckless driving within the past three years, the penalties are 30 to 60 days of prison time and/or $300 to $1000 in fines
In addition to these charges, six demerit points will be added to your driving record. After 8 demerit points, you receive an advisory notice from the DMV. If you have 14 demerits or more within 24 months, your license will be suspended.
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How can I remove a reckless driving charge from my record?
There is a range of infractions that fall under reckless driving, so there’s more than one way to deal with a reckless driving charge. You can argue to reduce your charges if:
- You have an otherwiseclean driving record
- You can prove your speedometer was malfunctioning at the time
- You were unaware of the problems with your vehicle that led to the charge ie: unresponsive brakes
- You were speeding because of an emergency
Once you have been convicted of a reckless driving charge, it remains on your record. The good news is that some of the demerit points from the reckless driving charge will eventually expire.
Demerit pointsthat are added to your driving record after a reckless driving charge will remain for a minimum of two years. After 12 months, the DMV credits points at one-half value. This means that the six demerits from your reckless driving conviction will be reduced to three.
Some demerit points from major charges may never be removed from your record. However, you can take defensive driving courses to avoid future demerits and improve your standing with your insurance company. Check your points at the DMV on a regular basis to make sure you keep your demerits low.
Key Takeaway A reckless driving charge will remain on your record, but there are ways to reduce the demerit points.
Will reckless driving make my insurance go up?
A reckless driving charge has a significant impact on your insurance rates. Insurers increase rates after a ticket for reckless driving at an average of $1,300 a year. That’s 77% higher than the average car insurance rate in Delaware!
In Delaware, you can take a defensive driving course to add a 3-point credit to your record. This credit is good for three years and can be applied to future minor traffic violations. Although it won’t reduce any of your existing demerits, it can keep your driving record steady so that your insurance rates won’t increase further.
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Can you go to jail for reckless driving?
Yes. For a first reckless driving offense, the driver can face 10 to 30 days of jail time. For repeat offenses, a driver is looking at 30 to 60 days in prison. Depending on the charge, the driver may be able to pay a fine instead of going to jail.
What’s the difference between reckless driving and aggressive driving?
Reckless driving is dangerous driving that causes risk to others. Aggressive driving is done with the intent of harming others, such as ramming another vehicle or harassing another driver on the road. Reckless driving and aggressive driving have the same penalties, although aggressive driving charges may result in license suspension and mandatory driving courses.
What is a “wet reckless” charge?
n Delaware, a “wet reckless” charge is when a driving under the influence (DUI) charge is plea-bargained down to a reckless driving charge.