Massachusetts Reckless Driving

The penalties for reckless driving in Massachusetts include fines between $20 and $200 and/or two weeks to two years in prison.
Written by Brittni Brinn
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
A reckless driving charge in
carries a fine of $20 to $200 and/or two weeks to two years in prison. If you’re convicted of reckless driving, your license will be suspended for a minimum of 60 days and five points will be added to your
driving record
Every driver knows that speeding can get you a ticket—reckless driving is a more serious citation that covers a variety of traffic offenses. A reckless driving charge stays on your record for years and comes with heavy fines, Safe Driver Insurance Program (SDIP) points, and even jail time.
In this article,
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How does Massachusetts define reckless driving?

Under Massachusetts’s General Law Chapter 90 Section 24, a reckless driver operates a motor vehicle recklessly so that the safety of the public is endangered.
The law also includes drivers who commit
, lend their licenses to other drivers, or make false statements when applying for a
driver’s license
vehicle registration
Reckless driving is any act of dangerous driving that puts the public at risk. Some examples of reckless driving are:
  • Excessive speeding, 20 mph over the posted speed limit
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Drag racing
  • Illegal passing
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
Negligent driving is a related charge that comes with some additional penalties. A negligent driver operates their vehicle in a way that endangers others but does not intend to break the law (i.e.
texting while driving
The main difference between negligent driving and reckless driving is the driver’s state of mind. If they break the law knowingly and willfully, they are guilty of reckless driving. If they are merely driving carelessly or without paying attention, they are driving negligently.

What are the penalties for reckless driving in Massachusetts?

A reckless driving charge is a misdemeanor. If you get a ticket for reckless driving, you will face some serious penalties.
The penalties for a reckless driving charge are:
  • Fines of $20 to $200
  • Possible jail time of two weeks to two years
  • License suspension
    of at least 60 days
  • Five SDIP points on your Massachusetts driving record
If it’s not your first reckless driving charge, your license could be suspended for up to one year.
Penalties for negligent driving are slightly different:
  • Fines of $20 to $200 plus an additional $250 fine
  • Possible jail time of two weeks to two years
  • License suspension of at least 60 days
  • Two SDIP points on your Massachusetts driving record
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How can I remove a reckless driving charge from my record?

A reckless driving charge adds five SDIP points to your Massachusetts driving record. These
driver's license points
will remain on your record for six years.
Massachusetts’s “Clean in 3” provision allows a driver to remove one SDIP point per year. However, a driver has to meet the following criteria:
  • Three or fewer offenses in the five years before your current insurance plan’s effective date
  • Your most recent traffic offense is over three years old
  • You have at least three years of driving experience
You also have the option of contesting your reckless driving ticket. Since reckless driving covers many kinds of traffic violations, there isn’t just one way to get your charges reduced.
Some of the following arguments may convince the court to reduce the penalties for your reckless driving charge: 
  • An otherwise spotless driving record
  • If you can prove that your
    speedometer was broken
  • You were unaware of a malfunction in your car that led to the reckless driving charge
  • You were speeding because of an emergency
MORE: How to get car insurance with a bad driving record
Key Takeaway: You can contest a charge in order to keep your driving record clean, wait six years for the points to be removed, or avoid future traffic violations to qualify for the “Clean in 3” provision.

Will reckless driving make my insurance go up?

A reckless driving charge will increase your insurance rates. In Massachusetts, you can expect your insurance to go up by an average of $1,192 per year after a reckless driving charge. That’s 99% higher than the typical insurance rates in Massachusetts.
Because of the serious consequences of a reckless driving charge, it’s best to maintain good driving practices and be aware of what constitutes reckless driving.
Keeping charges off your record by contesting traffic tickets can also keep your insurance manageable. Taking a
defensive driving course
can also help keep your driving record clean and your insurance rates low. 

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A wet reckless charge in Massachusetts is when an OUI charge is reduced. If a driver is charged with operating under the influence, they can plea bargain their charge down to a reckless driving charge.
The main difference between reckless driving and negligent driving is the driver’s state of mind. If the driver knowingly and intentionally breaks a traffic law, they are driving recklessly. Negligent driving occurs when a driver is careless and breaks a traffic law.
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