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What is Considered Reckless Driving in Texas?

Posted On February 5, 2021 In Legal Information

Vehicle accidents occur all the time in Texas, and there are many different causes of these accidents. In many cases, a simple driver error can lead to a crash. However, there are times when drivers are considered reckless. Texas law has actually defined “reckless driving.” We want to take some time here to discuss how reckless driving is defined as well as the dangers, propensity to increase car accidents and penalties associated with this type of driving behavior.

Defining Reckless Driving in Texas

Texas law provides a vague definition of what is considered to be reckless driving in the state. When we turn to Texas Transportation Code § 545.401, we can see that the law specifically says that “A person commits an offense if the person drives a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”

When we look at this definition, we can see how it can be broadly applied by law enforcement officials when they seek to cite someone for a driving offense. There are various types of driving behavior that is often considered “reckless,” and this can include the following:

  • Speeding
  • Driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs
  • Texting while driving (or other distracted driving behaviors)
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Running stop signs or red lights
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Racing with other vehicles
  • Evading law enforcement

What Penalties Are Associated with a Reckless Driver?

When a person violates the reckless driving laws in Texas, this will be considered a misdemeanor offense. Those convicted of reckless driving may face the following punishments:

  • A fine of up to $200
  • Up to 30 days in county jail
  • Or both penalties

Additionally, a person convicted of a misdemeanor offense in Texas will have a permanent mark on their criminal record. This could affect their ability to gain employment, find suitable housing, and even attend school. A misdemeanor driving offense will particularly affect any job that may require a person to regularly operate a vehicle.

How Can Reckless Driving Impact a Personal Injury or Auto Accident Case?

A reckless driving offense could have a significant impact on a personal injury lawsuit. In general, any person injured in an auto accident will need to prove the liability of the other party in order to recover compensation. Determining liability can be difficult, but that is not necessarily the case if the other driver is cited for reckless driving.  If a person sustains an injury in an accident caused by someone cited for reckless driving, this could be used against the at-fault driver to prove liability. In these cases, negligence per se will apply to cases where a person’s violation of law caused the injury.

Negligence per se applies to reckless driving cases, so an injury victim will not have to worry about proving every single element of negligence. In these cases, they will only need to prove the following in order to recover compensation:

  • That the defendant violated the law (reckless driving citation)
  • That the intent of the law question prevent injuries that ended up occurring anyway
  • The injury victim is within a class of people that the law was intended to protect

Those injured due to the actions of a reckless driver may be entitled to various types of compensation. This can include coverage of their medical bills, lost income, property damage expenses, pain and suffering damages, general out-of-pocket expenses, and more.

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