West Virginia Reckless Driving

A first reckless driving offense will result in up to 90 days in prison and/or $25 to $500 in fines. Six demerit points will be added to your record.
Written by Brittni Brinn
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
A first reckless driving offense in West Virginia carries a penalty of up to 90 days in prison and/or $25 to $500 in fines. If the reckless driving charge is a repeat offense or results in injury or death, the penalties increase. All cases of reckless driving will add six demerit points to your driving record.
Every driver knows that speeding can land you a traffic ticket—a reckless driving citation, however, is much more serious. Not only does the charge stay on your
driving record
, but reckless driving can also lead to hefty fines and even jail time. Because reckless driving covers a variety of traffic violations, it’s important to know what to watch out for when you’re driving.
In this article, the
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walks you through the ins and outs of reckless driving in West Virginia so you can steer clear of the severe penalties and help keep the roads safe. We'll also cover how you can reduce your
West Virginia car insurance costs
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How does West Virginia define reckless driving?

West Virginia Code
defines reckless driving as when “any person who drives any vehicle upon any street or highway, or upon any residential street, or in any parking area, or upon the ways of any institution of higher education, or upon any property within the state park and public recreation system in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
What does this mean? “Willful” indicates that a motorist intentionally operates their vehicle in a dangerous way. “Wanton disregard” means that a driver acts without considering the safety or well-being of others. Reckless driving is any act of dangerous driving that puts other people and property at risk.
Some examples of reckless driving include:
  • Failing to signal
  • Driving a faulty vehicle
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Failing to yield
  • Driving with an obstructed view
  • Driving too fast for the road conditions
  • Drag racing
Because of the dangerous nature of reckless driving, it’s easy to see why reckless driving charges are a serious matter and come with severe penalties.
Key Takeaway Reckless driving puts people and property in harm’s way. A reckless driver knowingly breaks the law and does not consider the well-being of other drivers and pedestrians.

What are the penalties for reckless driving in West Virginia?

In West Virginia, a reckless driving charge is tried as a misdemeanor. If convicted, the reckless driving charge will remain on your driving record for five years.
Here are the penalties for reckless driving in West Virginia:
  • First offense: 5 to 90 days in prison and/or $25 to $500 in fines
  • Repeat offense: 10 days to 6 months in jail and/or $50 to $1,000 in fines
  • Offenses involving serious injury: 10 days to 6 months in prison and/or $50 to $1,000 in fines
  • Offenses involving death: Possible charge of vehicular homicide 
For any conviction of reckless driving, six demerits will be added to your driving record. Once your record reaches 12 points, you could be looking at a license suspension of 30 days or more. 
Your license may be automatically suspended if you were drag racing or if you receive three reckless driving charges in the span of 24 months.

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

The best way to keep a reckless driving charge off of your record is to have the charge reduced or even dismissed in court. A range of traffic infractions fall under reckless driving, so there’s more than one way to deal with a reckless driving charge. 
You can argue to reduce your charges if:
  • You can prove your speedometer was malfunctioning at the time
  • You were unaware of the problems with your vehicle that led to the charge, for example, unresponsive brakes
  • You were speeding because of an emergency
Taking a state-approved defensive driving course while the reckless driving charge is pending is also a good idea. It shows that you are willing to take responsibility for your actions and can remove three “live” points from your record. Reducing the demerits on your record can make a big difference when you’re facing a reckless driving charge.
It’s also possible to remove demerits from your record after a conviction. The demerits are erased from your record after two years. You can also take a defensive driving course once every 12 months to remove additional points from your record.
Key Takeaway If you’ve been charged with reckless driving, taking a defensive driving course is a great way to improve your driving and will remove three “live” demerit points from your record.

Will reckless driving make my insurance go up?

A reckless driving charge on your driving record will have a significant impact on your insurance rates. After a reckless driving violation, insurance rates in West Virginia can increase by 61%. That’s about $871 per month, with a possible annual rate of $2291.
Although you will see increased insurance rates after a reckless driving charge, there are ways to maintain your rates and eventually lower them. Taking a defensive driving course can reduce your demerits and help you avoid traffic tickets in the future. 
Make sure you check your demerit points at the DMV and do your best to drive safely.

How to find affordable car insurance in West Virginia

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Yes. For a first reckless driving offense, the driver can face 5 to 90 days of jail time. For repeat offenses, a convicted driver is looking at 10 days to 6 months in prison. Depending on the charge, the driver may be able to pay a fine instead of going to jail.
In West Virginia, a “wet reckless” is when a driving under the influence (DUI) charge is plea-bargained down to a reckless driving charge. The penalties are still severe, but the driver can avoid the additional charges that result from a DUI.
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