Iowa Reckless Driving

Drivers charged with reckless driving in Iowa face up to $855 in fines, potential jail time, and a potential license suspension.
Written by Sean Boehme
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
An Iowa reckless driving charge carries a penalty of $105 to $855 in fines and/or 30 days of jail time. You could also have your license suspended. If anyone is injured or killed due to reckless driving, the penalties will be even more severe.
Unlike a more minor violation, like speeding, reckless driving is a criminal offense with consequences far worse than a simple ticket. Since many types of behavior qualify as reckless driving, you’ll want to play it safe so that you don’t end up saddled with a costly fine and a jail sentence.
If you want to learn more about what exactly counts as reckless driving in Iowa and what the penalties include, the
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How does Iowa define reckless driving?

In Iowa, an act of reckless driving occurs when a person displays “a willful or a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property." So it means through either intent or negligence, the driver puts people and property at risk.
Of course, this definition is pretty broad and does not point out examples of reckless driving. Some common instances of reckless driving in Iowa and other states include:
  • Driving at very high speeds
  • Weaving in and out of traffic 
  • Passing another vehicle unlawfully
  • Driving while distracted
These examples of reckless driving are not the only things that could get you into trouble, however. In general, it is under the jurisdiction of law enforcement to determine what qualifies as reckless driving. 

What are the penalties for reckless driving in Iowa?

Reckless driving in Iowa is considered a simple misdemeanor, which may carry the following penalties:
  • A fine ranging from $105 to $855
  • Up to 30 days of jail time
  • 5 points added to your record if someone is injured
The exact price of the fine you have to pay is likely to be determined by the circumstances and severity of the offense. The same can be said of the jail time, which could potentially be avoided altogether if the incident was minor.
If someone is seriously injured or killed as a result of your reckless driving, you will be charged with a Class C felony, which carries the following penalties:
  • Up to 10 years in prison
  • Between $1,370 and $13,660 in fines
  • License suspension
If an instance of reckless driving causes injury to anyone, you may have five
penalty points
added to your
Iowa driving record
. If you accrue three violations within one year, your license will be suspended for a year.
If you accumulate at least six points, your license will be suspended for at least two years.
Key Takeaway Even a mild instance of reckless driving can mean jail time and a huge fine, and it only gets worse if somebody gets hurt. Play it safe when you’re on the road.
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How can I remove a reckless driving charge from my record?

Since reckless driving is a serious criminal charge, it’s not something that can easily be shed from your record. While the fine can be paid and the points will eventually go away, the violation probably won’t.
It takes five years for points to disappear from your record in Iowa. Since a reckless driving charge will add five points, you’ll need to be very careful not to accrue any more violations if you want to avoid a license suspension.
Some drivers can take defensive driving courses to clear points from their record, but this is typically not an option for reckless driving convictions in Iowa.
As for the criminal charge itself, the only way to avoid it would be to prove there was a reason for your behavior. Some of the reasons for which a judge or officer may not fault you for reckless driving could include:
  • If your vehicle was malfunctioning
  • If you were in an emergency and had no other options
  • If you have no other blemishes on your record

Will reckless driving make my insurance go up?

The short answer is yes, your insurance rates will likely increase significantly. Reckless driving is one of the most costly traffic violations when it comes to the effect it has on insurance premiums. 
In Iowa, insurance rates rise an average of $723 per year after a reckless driving violation. Drivers with a reckless driving charge will end up paying around 71% more annually for insurance than those without one in Iowa. 

How to find affordable car insurance in Iowa

If you’ve been charged with reckless driving, or if you have any number of other violations on your record, it may be difficult to find affordable insurance rates. Even if you have a
clean record
, you may be paying too much and in need of a change. 
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Yes, you can go to jail for reckless driving in Iowa. With a standard case of reckless driving, you’ll be charged with a simple misdemeanor and could face up to 30 days in jail.
If somebody is killed and the charge becomes a felony, the sentence could be as long as ten years.
The lowest possible penalty in Iowa for reckless driving is a $105 fine.
According to Iowa law, reckless driving refers to driving with a “willful or a wanton disregard” for the safety of others, while careless driving refers to purposely skidding, sliding, temporarily racing, or making pointlessly abrupt turns while driving.
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