Iowa Reckless Driving Laws

In Iowa, reckless driving is categorized by statute as a criminal offense, with administrative implications in terms of maintaining a valid driver's license. While a criminal traffic offense, drivers still face the potential of incarceration, as well as any fallout concerning their license, if convicted.

Defining Reckless Driving in Iowa

Per section 321.277 of the Iowa Code, reckless driving is defined as any operation of a motor vehicle that shows a wanton or willful lack of regard for the well-being of other persons or their property. The state of Iowa defines recklessness as any act obvious to a reasonable person that harm to others or self is highly probable to occur.

Reckless Driving Penalties in Iowa



Criminal Penalties

Points Applied to License

Other Administrative Penalties

Reckless Driving

Simple misdemeanor

Incarceration up to 30 days, with fines of at least $50, but not more than $500

None, but creates traffic violation

Possible license suspension, at discretion of courts

Impact on Your Driver's License

With any reckless driving case, a driver may have his or her license revoked or suspended, ultimately based on the discretion of the courts. However, unless otherwise meeting the criteria of a habitual traffic offender, a reckless driving conviction is not grounds for a purely administrative-based suspension. If a license is suspended in Iowa, drivers have limited opportunity to obtain a temporary restricted license.

Iowa's point system tracks mainly serious traffic violations involving criminal level traffic incidents or abuses of licensing privileges. However, reckless driving is not a point offense in Iowa. Iowa tracks the number of traffic violations a driver incurs over a two-year period. Accumulation of more than six violations within the two-year period results in administrative action under habitual offender policies, which may entail license suspension.

Dealing with a Reckless Driving Charge in Iowa

The best option for dealing with a reckless driving charge in Iowa will entail immediately addressing the criminal charge itself. The nature of the definition of reckless driving laws is vague, and in turn, drivers and their legal counsel stand a favorable chance of obtaining either outright dismissal or reduction of the charge into a lesser conviction, such as a simple traffic violation like speeding or failure to yield. If this is the case, drivers then avoid complications related to their license, not to mention the creation of a criminal record and any associated criminal penalties.

When to Get a Lawyer

Having legal counsel involved from the outset of any reckless driving case in Iowa is advisable, as drivers do face criminal charges with wide-ranging implications. However, seeking out legal counsel is even more advisable if the reckless driving charge is incident to an accident (with conviction potentially creating liability for damages in future civil actions) or related to other criminal charges. To determine more about legal defense options in your case, speak with an Iowa reckless driving lawyer about your legal rights.

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