Pennsylvania Reckless Driving

Driving recklessly in Pennsylvania could mean penalties including a $200 fine, six-month license suspension, and a 90-day jail term.
Written by Sean Boehme
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
A reckless driving charge in
could mean a $200 fine, a six-month
license suspension
, and a jail term lasting 90 days or fewer. The penalties for driving recklessly can escalate if someone is seriously injured in an accident. 
There are a lot of different infractions that can qualify as reckless driving in Pennsylvania, and some of them might come as a surprise. Since the penalties for reckless driving are a lot worse than, say, a standard
speeding ticket
, you’ll want to remain cautious while on the road.
If you’re a Pennsylvania driver wondering about reckless driving in your state, the
car insurance
comparison app
has put together this guide with all the information you need to know. We've even included tips for reducing your Pennsylvania car insurance costs.
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How does Pennsylvania define reckless driving?

In Pennsylvania, a reckless driver is “any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” 
In other words, someone is driving recklessly when their actions make it likely that there could be an accident or someone will get hurt. Whether the driver does so intentionally or not doesn’t matter, as both cases could qualify as reckless driving.
The definition can seem vague, so here are some common examples of reckless driving: 
  • Excessively speeding
  • Driving too slow
  • Passing other vehicles unsafely
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
Since the law for reckless driving is in part subjective, it’s generally up to law enforcement to determine if someone is driving recklessly.

What are the penalties for reckless driving in Pennsylvania?

If you’re caught driving recklessly in Pennsylvania, you’ll:
  • Be charged with a summary offense
  • Be fined $200
  • Have your
    license suspended
    for 6 months
  • Face up to 90 days in jail
You can expect the amount of jail time, if any, you receive to depend on the severity of the incident.
You’ll also get five points on your license. Since it only takes six points for your license to be suspended in Pennsylvania, you’ll be on thin ice if you’re charged with reckless driving. 
Although most reckless driving incidents in Pennsylvania do not constitute a felony charge, the exception is if someone is seriously injured. If that happens, you may be charged with aggravated assault by vehicle. The penalties for this include:
  • A third-degree felony charge
  • A one-year license suspension
  • Up to seven years in prison
  • Up to $15,000 in fines
Key Takeaway: Even the most minor reckless driving charge in Pennsylvania can mean a suspended license and jail time. You’ll want to play it safe on the road to avoid those penalties.
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How can I remove reckless driving from my record?

Reckless driving in Pennsylvania is a summary offense, and those can be expunged if you have no further criminal offense within five years. 
As for the five points you accumulate, those will go away too. For every 12 months, you go without accumulating any new points on your license, three points will be removed.
If you manage to spend 12 months with zero points against your record, your next violation will be treated as if it's your first time accruing points. 
Even if you can clear both the criminal charge and the points off your record, avoiding the charge altogether is ideal. Outside of remaining safe and aware at all times, a judge or officer may not charge you with reckless driving if any of these are true:
MORE: How long does a speeding ticket stay on your record?

Will reckless driving make my insurance go up?

The short answer is yes. Reckless driving is one of the most costly traffic violations there is when it comes to your car insurance rates. 
After a reckless driving charge, your insurance rates could go up by as much as 77% in Pennsylvania. If you already pay an average rate for your insurance, that could mean an increase of more than $1,000 per year.
There are some options to lower your insurance rate, such as taking a defensive driving class at the DMV or stacking together consecutive years with no traffic violations. 

How to find affordable car insurance in Pennsylvania

 If you’ve been charged with reckless driving or any other serious traffic violations, your insurance rates may have skyrocketed. Even if you have a clean driving record, if you haven’t revisited your plan in a while, you may be paying too much.
Luckily, the car insurance broker
can help. The
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MORE: How to get car insurance with a bad driving record
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Yes, reckless driving is a criminal offense in Pennsylvania and could lead to a 90-day jail term. If someone is seriously injured because of reckless driving, the jail time can increase to as much as 7 years.
The minimum penalty for reckless driving in Pennsylvania is a $200 fine and a six-month suspension for your license. You’ll also receive 5 points on your license for the infraction.
In Pennsylvania, aggressive driving is used to describe accidents in which one driver was intentionally trying to harm or intimidate another. It’s often associated with road rage.
One of the main differences is that aggressive driving is always intentional, while reckless sometimes isn’t. Still, both are serious violations that can result in hefty penalties.
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