Wisconsin Reckless Driving

Reckless driving in Wisconsin is a criminal charge that could land you a $10,000 fine and up to 3 years in prison.
Written by Joshua Levy
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Reckless driving in Wisconsin is a criminal charge that can result in penalties ranging from small fines to years in prison, as well as serious increases to your
Wisconsin insurance costs
. But reckless driving that results in bodily injury to a third party can warrant much bigger consequences.
Every state defines reckless driving differently. In some places, speeding over a certain limit would warrant a reckless driving charge. But other states maintain specific requirements, such as an awareness of how your driving could harm someone else or their property. 
No matter the state, reckless driving is a criminal offense that can have huge financial repercussions 
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How does Wisconsin define reckless driving?

Wisconsin defines reckless driving as endangering the safety of people or property through the negligent use of a vehicle.
While that might sound somewhat ambiguous, the definition is intentionally broad so that it includes many problematic behaviors like:
  • Excessive speeding
  • Racing
  • Joyriding
  • Doing tricks
  • Blocking traffic
  • Running traffic lights
  • Driving outside your lane 
  • Showing road rage
Aside from these examples, reckless driving charges are also up to the discretion of the law enforcement officer who pulls you over. That means that if an officer sees a behavior they think could endanger others, and that you should be aware of, they have the right to charge you with reckless driving.

What are the penalties for reckless driving in Wisconsin? 

No matter what, a reckless driving conviction adds six points to your record in Wisconsin. But the additional penalties vary depending on your number of prior offenses and whether you inflicted harm on a third party.
Also, your fines will be doubled if you are convicted of reckless driving in a work zone, putting maintenance, utility, or sanitation workers at risk.
Here are the different penalties you can expect for different violations.
Reckless driving offense
Work zone fines
Without causing injury (no prior convictions)
$25 to $200
$50 to $400
Without causing injury (prior convictions)
$50 to $500
$100 to $1,000
Up to 1 year in county jail
Driving across a railroad crossing
$300 to $1,000 (plus 50% surcharge)
$600 to $2,000 (plus 30% surcharge
Causing bodily harm
$300 to $2,000
$600 to $4,000
30 days to 1 year in county jail
Causing great bodily harm (Class I felony)
Up to $10,000
Up to $20,000
Up to 3.5 years in state prison
Aside from the penalties associated with each category of reckless driving, you may face
license suspension
or revocation.
Key Takeaway Reckless driving is usually punishable by up to $250 in fines, but the penalties get much more severe if you are a repeat offender or cause harm to any third parties.

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

Reckless driving is a criminal charge, so it won’t disappear from your record overnight. In most cases, you could be eligible to have it removed from your record five years after the conviction date. But if your incident involved alcohol, the charge may stay on your record indefinitely.
While the charge will stay on your record for at least five years, you may be able to reduce the points on your
driving record
by taking a traffic course. In fact, if your license has been suspended for accumulating too many points, you may even be able to get your license reinstated by taking an approved traffic course. 
But before you take a course, you’ll need court approval. Even if you can take the course, you can only reduce your points once every three years.  

Will reckless driving make my insurance go up? 

Reckless driving charges are serious offenses, and, as a result, they can have a huge impact on your insurance premium. You'll likely be required to file an
SR-22 certificate
, which makes you a high-risk driver in the eyes of insurance companies.
In Wisconsin, a reckless driving conviction can drive up your premium by 62%. In dollar terms, that means the average Wisconsin driver should expect to pay an additional $647 a year on car insurance after a reckless driving conviction.
If you are convicted of reckless driving and can’t afford your insurance—try not to worry. You can still take steps to
keep your insurance low
, like dropping excessive coverage, taking defensive driving courses, or shopping around for a better provider.

How to find affordable car insurance in Wisconsin

When you get a reckless driving conviction, your insurance rate will increase significantly. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find an affordable premium. For help finding the lowest available rate on the car insurance you need, try
A licensed broker, the Jerry app helps users save an average of more than $800 per year on car insurance. Just download the app, answer a few questions—and Jerry will send you personalized quotes from over 50 top providers like Progressive and Nationwide. 
When you find a plan you like, Jerry can help you switch policies and even help cancel your old one.
brought my insurance deductible down from $2.5k to $1k without me having to switch companies. I even had a ticket on my record. If it can help me, Jerry will definitely help you save money.” —Maxwell N.
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Yes, you could go to jail for reckless driving in Wisconsin. But you typically won’t go to jail unless you injured someone or you already have a prior reckless driving conviction on your record.
The minimum penalty for reckless driving in Wisconsin is a $25 fine for a first offense. But that minimum rises to $50 for repeat offenders and a minimum of $300 if someone was injured. Additionally, anyone convicted of reckless driving will get at least six points added to their driving record.
In Wisconsin, you can’t get charged with reckless driving and operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) at the same time. The main reason for this is that reckless driving is less severe than an OWI. So, if you’re charged with an OWI, there’s no point in also charging you with reckless driving. 
However, those convicted of driving under the influence may sometimes bargain an OWI down to a reckless driving charge. Of course, that will only be possible in specific circumstances that don’t involve injuries.
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