New York Reckless Driving

Reckless driving in New York will lead to possible jail time, up to $300 in fines, and five points added to your driving record.
Written by Kevin Martinez
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
New York
state laws dictate that you will have to face hefty penalties if you get charged with reckless driving. Penalties for a first-time offense include potential jail time, up to $300 in fines, and five points automatically added to your
New York driving record
rating reverse-full
"I’m earning
awesome rewards
every week, just for driving safe!”

How does New York define reckless driving?

Under the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 1212, reckless driving is defined as “driving or using any motor vehicle in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.” 
Although the law can be unclear about what explicitly constitutes reckless driving, this could encompass multiple violations at once. Here are some examples of violations that could run the risk of becoming reckless driving charges:
The decision of whether or not a violation will be considered a reckless driving charge is ultimately left to the discretion of law enforcement officials.
Key Takeaway Reckless driving is more complex than just going over the speed limit. Anything that poses a threat or endangers the safety of others on the road could count as reckless driving.

What are the penalties for reckless driving in New York?

Regardless of the offense or how severe the offense is, New York state classifies reckless driving as a misdemeanor, making it a criminal offense. Keep in mind that a reckless driving charge will automatically add five demerit points to a motorist’s New York driving record.
If it’s your first reckless driving offense, you could face the following:
  • Imprisonment: Up to 30 days
  • Fines: $100 to $300
For a second offense within 18 months, a motorist could receive the following penalties:
  • Imprisonment: Up to 90 days
  • Fines: $100 to $525
If you commit a third offense within an 18-month period, you could face:
  • Imprisonment: Up to 180 days
  • Fines: $100 to $1,125 
A judge or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) also reserves the right to
suspend your license
in exceptional circumstances.

How can I remove a reckless driving charge from my record?

A reckless driving charge in New York is considered a misdemeanor, meaning that it will appear on both your criminal and driving record. 
Typically, reckless driver violations remain on your driving record for up to three years. However, if you are convicted of a misdemeanor, it will stay on your legal record forever.
Once the 18-month period has passed from the violation date and you have no significant violations on your record, the points from the violation will no longer count towards your total. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll be removed after the 18 months are up. 
The points will remain on your record for as long as the conviction is on your legal record, which can be used to determine and increase premiums for car insurance.
Your best bet for removing a reckless driving charge from your record is to avoid getting any further major traffic violations from the time you got your first violation by making use of
safe driving tips
, disputing minor violations, and keeping track of how many points you’ve accumulated.

Will reckless driving make my insurance go up?

Reckless driving violations can cause havoc in many ways. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the charge, you can expect that a reckless driving charge will have an enormous impact on your
car insurance
After a citation for reckless driving, the average New York driver sees a rate increase of 57% or $961 per month.
However, the best way to avoid this is by practicing safe driving habits and following local traffic laws to avoid getting this hefty charge. Take a
defensive driving course
, keep track of your points, and dispute any minor violations.

How to find affordable car insurance in New York

In most circumstances,
most New York insurance companies
won’t raise your rates immediately after a reckless driving charge—they’ll wait until the time comes for your policy renewal. Depending on the timing, you may be able to continue paying your original rates for a few months, but you’ll probably want to start shopping around for more affordable rates as your renewal date nears. 
, the car insurance comparison and broker app, can help find you the best coverage with the lowest premiums. With over 50 different insurance companies, Jerry will provide you with an extensive comparison of some of the most competitive rates from top insurance providers. 
had a super simple app that was easy to navigate. And their terrific customer service made everything even easier. Plus, I saved $700 in a single year.” —Lucia M.
Make safe driving pay
Get rewarded for safe driving. Earn points and unlock benefits. Totally free.
Start earning now


Yes, you could face a possible jail sentence for reckless driving in New York. New York classifies reckless driving as a misdemeanor, which makes it a criminal offense.
The minimum penalty for a first-time reckless driving offense is a $100 fine and/or jail time.
An excellent way to differentiate between careless and reckless driving is all based on intent. Reckless driving means that you were driving dangerously; careless driving could be classified as more subtle and unintentional.
Compare Car Insurance Quotes For Free
Jerry automatically shops for your insurance before every renewal. Members save $872/year.
rating primary
Rating on App Store
Start saving money!
12,000+ Reviews
Trusted by 3.5M car owners like you

You might also be interested

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings — it's 100% free