By: Traffic Ticket Attorney Larry Kohn and DUI Lawyer and Ex-Cop and Atlanta DUI Attorney Cory Yager
This article sets forth the reckless driving GA statute under OCGA 40-6-390. In addition, the authors answer the top 20 questions pertaining to reckless driving charge in GA.
1. What is reckless driving? Well over half of all states have a virtually identical reckless driving definition as the reckless statute in Georgia. But you won’t find a long statutory definition to help see examples of “what is reckless driving in GA?” The reckless definition within the statutory wording was written by the Georgia General Assembly to fit hundreds of different driving scenarios.
Because the reckless driving meaning is so nebulously worded, challenges to vagueness have been attempted in the Georgia courts. In 1951, the Georgia Court of Appeals rejected a vagueness challenge under an earlier statutory wording. Lancaster v. State, 83 Ga.App. 746 (1951). Again, in 1980, in a felony homicide by vehicle case, Wilson v. State, 245 Ga. 49 (1980), the same court stated that the language of today’s reckless driving law in Georgia is “sufficiently definite” to apprise a motor vehicle driver that his or her acts put others at risk.
2. What does reckless mean? To define reckless driving, see the statute, which is printed out below, in the next section. To simplify the crime, it is any dangerous driving that (based upon the location and the driver’s conduct) puts other person’s or property at risk. Trying to define careless operation of a car or truck is usually supplied by witnesses to the crime, or forensic analysis of a crash scene and electronic data recorder box.
3. How much is the reckless driving fine in GA? People looking for a cheap Georgia lawyer will often call our law office to ask, “how much is a reckless driving ticket in Georgia?” For more sophisticated citizens who may lose a valuable job, the issue of the reckless driving ticket cost never comes up. Their concern (when arrested for DUI cases) is focused on asking if our lawyers in Atlanta possess a good record for successfully reducing a reckless driving citation, or if we can get a DUI reduced to reckless driving.
4. How fast is reckless driving in Georgia? As opposed to states like NC and VA that build in a number (miles per hour over the posted speed limit) for being charged reckless driving. Georgia does not have that same statutory wording. Fraser v. State, 263 Ga. App. 764 (2003).
5. Can I go to jail for a reckless driving in GA misdemeanor? A reckless driving charge in GA So, the answer to “can you go to jail for reckless driving” is YES, for as much as 12 months.
6. If convicted on my Georgia reckless driving ticket, will my driver’s license be suspended? If under age 21, yes. Or, if you are a South Carolina licensee with a prior reckless driving on your record, “yes,” unless our attorneys in Atlanta can get the offense reduced for you. Read more in the next question, below.
7. For a GA reckless driving citation, how many points on license if convicted? Under the Georgia point system four (4) points are assessed. DDS Georgia assigns 4 points for a violation of 40-6-390. Plus, a nolo contendere plea (if obtained) can mean zero points being added at the DDS GA (the Georgia Department of Driver Services). However, for young drivers under age 21, the points cannot be avoided with a nolo plea, and a conviction of reckless driving in Georgia suspends for six (6) months. Depending on the age of the driver, and the accumulation of points from prior errant driving, a license suspension can occur. For a 17-year-old driver, 4 points within 12 months suspends, and for adult drivers 15 or more points within the last 24 months suspends.
8. Is reckless driving a criminal offense? Yes, in all states, including Georgia. As shown below in the GA reckless statute, 12 months of jail time is possible.
9. How to get a reckless driving ticket off your record. Hire a top-rated law firm’s traffic ticket lawyers to fight your case for you. If you lack the funds to pay for a top-rated legal professional, apply for the public defender. The Sixth Amendment protects your right to have legal counsel.
10. How long does reckless driving stay on record? Like all misdemeanors and felonies, a conviction remains on your criminal history for life, if convicted. Georgia does have a record restriction law, but its purpose is not to permit the passage of time alone to merit expunction. Don’t expect to expunge reckless driving charges in GA.
11. How does Georgia law define reckless? It is best to see the statutory language of O.C.G.A. 40 6-390, below.
12. How long is reckless driving on record? See number 10 above to learn how long does reckless driving stay on your record. Once again, these cases can be won if handled correctly, and (if necessary) the case goes to trial.
13. How is an aggressive driving ticket GA different from GA reckless driving? The aggressive driving definition is found in OCGA 40-6-397, under the Georgia code. The language of this more recently enacted law differs substantially from the Georgia reckless statute. The GA aggressive driving law says. “with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person,” and even points to reckless driving under 40-6-390 as a possible basis.
14. What is considered reckless driving in GA? Some of the cases highlighted above give reckless driving examples. The Fraser case was a city of Atlanta arrest for a drinking driver traveling at high speed (24 mph over the limit) in a metro Atlanta area (Piedmont at Monroe) which had a great deal of pedestrian traffic at night at this “popular night spot.”
15. Can a criminal defense lawyer help me reduce a DUI to reckless driving in Georgia? Yes, in many cases. The skill level and experience of criminal lawyers near me can be found by using lawyer ratings and awards and legal industry recognitions for the law group’s attorneys.
16. Is it better to be convicted of reckless than DUI? A person charged with DUI is often viewed more harshly by employers, when convicted of DUI. A GA charge of recklessly driving in the Peach State may affect job options (e.g., trying to driver for Uber or Lyft and be covered under their secondary insurance coverage), but it is deemed to be less harmful that a drunk driving conviction. In almost every analysis of reckless driving vs DUI, our clients are preferring reckless disposition over a conviction of a DUI in Georgia.
17. When is reckless driving a felony? When another person dies or suffers serious injury that is caused by one or more motorists driving recklessly, a serious felony can and will be indicted or accused for a conviction of this traffic violation. Unlike other states, the state of Georgia does not have any felony reckless driving law that makes a repeat offender a felon.
18. Is reckless driving a felony in VA? The chances of going to jail for reckless driving in Virginia are far more likely than in GA. Plus, the Virginia reckless driving penalty for violating the Virginia reckless endangerment law (when a dependent child is injured due to an adult’s dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, a felony can be charged.
19. Is reckless driving causing serious injury or death a felony? Yes. While (in Georgia), a traffic ticket for reckless driving is a misdemeanor in 100% of the cases, it is also a serious motor vehicle crime. So, this misdemeanor offense is one of Georgia’s “serious” motor vehicle crimes that can act as the “predicate” dangerous driving event to support a felony vehicular homicide in GA (under OCGA 40-6-393) or a serious injury by vehicle felony (under OCGA 40-6-394).
20. Is it better to be convicted of reckless driving or speeding? For most purposes, speeding is preferred. But a high-speed traffic ticket can also carry a fine of $1000 plus surcharges and can add up to 6 points on your driving record, while a reckless only puts 4 demerit points on your DDS GA record.
Personal injury attorneys know that accidents based upon any serious traffic offense like DUI, hit and run, attempting to elude an officer, aggressive driving or reckless driving in GA tend to bring higher jury verdicts. Plus, for such egregious driving acts, the injured parties can seek punitive damages, which are not covered by auto liability insurance companies.
In addition, when permanent injury in car accidents such as crippling orthopedic or spinal damage occur, the future losses easily go into the millions of dollars, on civil verdicts.
GA Code 40-6-390. Reckless driving
(a) Any person who drives any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property commits the offense of reckless driving.
(b) Every person convicted of reckless driving shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000.00 or imprisonment not to exceed 12 months, or by both such fine and imprisonment, provided that no provision of this Code section shall be construed so as to deprive the court imposing the sentence of the power given by law to stay or suspend the execution of such sentence or to place the defendant on probation.
Atlanta DUI attorney William Head has two law partners who share his passion for obtaining the very best outcome for each client facing serious traffic charges in Georgia. Veteran Georgia traffic ticket lawyer attorney Larry Kohn has worked with Bubba Head since 1996, after finishing his first year in law school at Georgia State University. Larry later graduated magna cum laude. His undergraduate degree was from Emory University.
Lawrence Kohn is a 2017-2020 Super Lawyer, and has personally handled over 4500 traffic offense cases, both misdemeanor and felony, in over 22 years of law practice. Larry Kohn has successfully handled multiple high-profile criminal law cases, including highly publicized trials.
The veteran criminal defense attorney also successfully defended a highly publicized circus elephant abuse case in the City of Atlanta. At risk was the circus owner’s ability to continue operating the business.
Partner and ex-police officer Cory Yager never worked at any law office except with William C. Head, since finishing nearly a decade as a law enforcement officer. Mr. Head is both Board-Certified in DUI defense by the National College for DUI Defense and a 17-time recipient of Super Lawyers recognition. He organized the 12 attorneys who founded NCDD.com and is a former Regent of the National College.
He also has successfully handled numerous criminal defense cases for athletes (e.g., Atlanta Braves ace pitcher Derek Lowe) and other celebrities like former UGA superstar and Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl MVP player Hines Ward. He has been named to Super Lawyers as a top lawyer in Georgia 7 times, and
The frightened person who has everything at stake in his or her life is desperate to know how to get out of a DUI. For the majority of our cases, this comes down to knowing how to get a DUI reduced to reckless driving for our clients. In a few cases each year, when the facts support it, our law firm’s attorneys can negotiate a Title 16 reckless conduct (an offense much like some states’ careless operation laws) for our clients.
In a search for the best local DUI lawyer near me, the internet is both helpful and confusing. Dozens of attorneys for DUI defense CLAIM to be the “top person” so you HAVE TO dig deeper. You must question any prospective criminal defense attorneys about the specifics of their track records and their methods for fighting reckless driving cases, especially if the case started as a DUI in Georgia.