Pennsylvania Reckless Driving Laws

Pennsylvania's categorization of reckless driving is in flux and subject to debate, but in short, the offense of reckless driving falls under a categorization of offenses known as "summary offenses." In any case, reckless driving violations carry the potential of incarceration (traditionally a criminal offense penalty) and administrative action, such as license suspension.

Defining Reckless Driving in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania defines reckless driving as any act of operating a motor vehicle in which the driver displays willing and wanton disregard for the safety of other drivers, passengers, pedestrians or property, both public and private. Pennsylvania also carries a slew of other traffic offenses, which may incur reckless driving charges if committed in succession or in conjunction with excessive speed.

Reckless Driving Penalties in Pennsylvania



Criminal Penalties

Points Applied to License

Other Administrative Penalties

Reckless driving

Summary offense

Incarceration of up to 90 days with fines of at least $200


Possible license suspension of six months for first offense

Impact on Your Drivers License

Licenses in a reckless driving case will be subject to automatic license suspension for not more than six months, pending the outcome of a scheduled PennDOT hearing. Failure to attend the hearing results in a default suspension of six months. However, drivers that attend the hearing with some form of coherent defense fare favorably (pending their prior driving record), may be eligible to reduce points, prevent suspensions, or become eligible for hardship licenses through participation in writing driving exams or attendance at court-approved driving courses.

Options for Dealing with a Reckless Driving Charge in Pennsylvania

Reckless driving is addressed as a summary offense in Pennsylvania, and as such, drivers with a relatively clean driving history have a number of options to not only prevent incarceration, but additionally, expunge the offense from their record as well after five years have lapsed. However, in practice, drivers may be able to negotiate a plea option, which reduces the charges to a simple traffic violation or lesser summary offense like careless driving (while incurring penalties such as payment of fines and the administrative penalties as well).

On the administrative end, drivers do face automatic license suspension for six months; however, it is possible on a case-specific basis to obtain a hardship license from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation by filing form DL-15. Any options for dealing with a reckless driving charge, in terms of administrative action, require attendance at all scheduled PennDOT hearings.

When to Get a Lawyer for Reckless Driving in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, summary offenses do not guarantee defendants the right to legal counsel, and in turn, without seeking out the counsel of a Pennsylvania reckless driving lawyer, drivers must handle their case on their own. In practice, having legal counsel involved in your case will increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome, including obtaining a favorable plea option, limited license restrictions, and ultimately, expunging the offense, exponentially. For more information, consult with a Pennsylvania reckless driving lawyer directly about your case.

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