Tennessee Reckless Driving

Reckless driving in Tennessee carries a possible fine of $580, jail time up to six months, and six points on your driving record.
Written by Maxine Boyko
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
A reckless driving charge in
carries penalties of up to $580 in fines, up to six months in jail, and six demerit points on your
driving record
. Your license may also be suspended for a year. 
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How does Tennessee define reckless driving?

Tennessee defines reckless driving as driving in “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” 
To qualify as driving recklessly by this very definition one has to behave in one of two ways by either one, acting dangerously with intention or purpose, or two, understanding that your behavior is dangerous but not caring, disregarding the consequences, and continuing the behavior.
Tennessee law states two specific instances of reckless driving as follows:
  • Doing a wheelie on a motorcycle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of person or property
  • Driving into a flooded area that is marked with a warning sign or a barricade
In addition to these specific instances, general behaviors can be classified as reckless driving if they meet the requirements of being dangerous, willful, or wanton. Behaviors that may receive a reckless driving charge include: 
  • Excessive speeding (driving 30 mph over the posted speed limit)
  • Failure to yield to emergency vehicles
  • Failure to stop at a railroad crossing or bus stop
  • Contributing to a crash that involves casualties
  • Fleeing law enforcement
Aside from specific statements regarding reckless driving, such as driving into a flooded area or doing a wheelie on a motorcycle, many other behaviors are up for judgment. 
Ultimately, the law enforcement officer who pulled you over has the authority to levy a reckless driving charge. 

What are the penalties for reckless driving in Tennessee? 

A reckless driving charge is a Class B misdemeanor in Tennessee. A conviction can result in a number of penalties depending on the circumstances. 
The typical penalties for a reckless driving misdemeanor are: 
  • Up to six months in jail
  • Up to $580 in fines
  • Six demerit points
If you get two reckless driving convictions within one year, you could face up to a
one-year license suspension
Key Takeaway: A reckless driving charge in Tennessee can come from pretty unusual circumstances but is generally defined as intentionally driving in a way that endangers others on the road. 

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

Luckily in the state of Tennessee, you can remove your reckless driving conviction from your record. If you’re eligible and not disqualified due to other circumstances, a reckless driving conviction can be expunged after five years
Additionally, the Tennessee Department of Safety will not count points against you after two years have passed since the date of your traffic condition. Unfortunately, you cannot take any classes to reduce or remove points from your driving record. 
You may be able to get your charges dropped entirely if you can establish proof that you had good reason for your behavior, such as speeding or tailgating, in an emergency. Hiring a good lawyer is essential to establishing reasonable doubt and getting a reckless driving charge dismissed. 

Will reckless driving make my insurance go up? 

A reckless driving charge will have a significant impact on your insurance rates. On average, you can expect to find your insurance increase by 50% following a reckless driving charge. 
Avoiding a reckless driving charge is the key to maintaining low insurance rates. It is also a generally good idea to keep up with
safe driving habits
. Being a conscientious driver and taking a
defensive driving course
are two active choices you can make that can help keep your record squeaky clean. 

How to find affordable car insurance in Tennessee

You don’t have to panic following a reckless driving charge, as it will not immediately impact your
car insurance rates
. You will likely have a little time at your current rate before it’s time to
renew your policy
. Once the renewal date nears, you should look around for better-priced insurance options
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The minimum penalty for reckless driving in Tennessee is a $50 fine.
Yes, you can go to jail for reckless driving in Tennessee. Being charged with reckless driving can land you in prison for up to six months.
In Tennessee, aggressive driving can look very similar to reckless driving. Aggressive driving will likely lead to a careless driving conviction due to the intent to endanger or harm people or property.
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