Reckless Driving Maryland

Reckless Driving Maryland

Getting pulled over for speeding is something that happens to almost everyone at some point. Occasionally, the police are nice enough to let you off with a warning, even though they have heard almost every excuse in the book. But when does a simple traffic stop for speeding turn into a reckless driving charge? Reckless driving is more serious than your average speeding ticket, and police officers have substantial discretion over whether to issue a reckless driving citation.

If you receive a ticket for reckless driving or any other driving infraction, you have the right to be defended by an attorney! After you receive your ticket, you have 30 days to request a trial or pay the citation(s) before the MVA can suspend your license for failing to comply with the citation by either paying it or requesting a trial. At this hearing, you or your experienced reckless driving attorney and the citing police officer will argue before a judge. Usually it is better to request a trial than to pay the citation, because your attorney can argue for reduced points or try to fight the citation using the law and their experience.


Under Maryland Code § 21-901.1, the law actually breaks up driving offenses into “reckless driving” and a lesser charge of “negligent driving.” To find you guilty of reckless driving, the police must prove that you drove your car in wanton or willful disregard for the safety of people or property around you. Alternatively, the police could simply prove that you drove in a manner that indicates wonton or willful disregard (wanton means you understood the risks and didn’t care). This means the police don’t have to prove any intent for the judge to find you guilty. The standard for “negligent driving” is lower; the police must only prove that you were driving your car in a careless way that could endanger people or property around you.

Determining whether your conduct rose to the level of negligence or recklessness is entirely up to the police officer with respect to the decision to issue you a citation. Once in court, it is the judge who decides whether you are actually guilty of the offense or not. In many cases, the only evidence may be the opinion of the police against your words. To make sure you are not on the hook for an expensive penalty because an officer didn’t like the way you were driving, you need an experienced reckless driving lawyer who knows best how to fight for you in Maryland courts.

Specific Examples of Reckless Driving

Reckless driving encompasses various dangerous behaviors that significantly raise the risk of accidents: 


Unsafe Speed

  • Driving at Unsafe Speeds: Navigating roads at speeds inappropriate for the given conditions or surpassing the speed limit by over 20 mph, poses a severe risk to all road users.

Driving Under the Influence

  • Operating Under the Influence: Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs not only compromises the driver’s safety but also the safety of the public, constituting a serious legal and ethical breach.

Passing at Railroad Crossings

  • Risky Passing Maneuvers: Engaging in the risky behavior of overtaking another vehicle at a railroad crossing combines dangerous judgment with elevated risk.

Failure to Yield

  • Neglecting to Yield: Not yielding when necessary shows a clear disregard for traffic laws and the safety of other motorists.

Is Reckless Driving a Felony?

There is good news; in Maryland, reckless driving is not a felony. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor that is codified in Maryland’s transportation code, not its criminal laws code. In fact, you cannot be imprisoned for reckless driving alone in Maryland. However, your license could be suspended, and your insurance rates could increase.

Reckless driving tickets often accompany more serious traffic offenses, some that could result in steep fines or prison time. Having the right attorney can be the difference between your license being suspended or not.

md criminal law cta square banner

What Is the Penalty for Reckless Driving and Negligent Driving?

In Maryland, a judge can fine you up to the maximum of $1,000 for reckless driving, no matter how poorly you were driving. However, this is just the punishment a judge can hand you – it does not cover the possible penalties from the Maryland MVA. A reckless driving conviction carries up to six points on your license, which could result in your license being suspended and your insurance rates getting a steep hike upwards.

For negligent driving, a judge can fine you up to $500. Additionally, a negligent driving conviction can result in one point on your license, and up to three points if the negligent driving contributed to an accident.

Understanding the Consequences of Reckless Driving

Reckless driving in Maryland is not just a minor infraction; it’s a serious offense that carries significant penalties. If convicted, drivers face a fine of up to $1,000, a stark reminder of the state’s stringent stance against such perilous behavior.

Beyond the financial hit, the repercussions extend to the accumulation of points on one’s driving record, with up to six points for a single reckless driving conviction. These points are more than mere numbers; they’re blemishes that can lead to a suspended license, propelling insurance rates to soar and complicating one’s ability to commute.

In certain egregious cases, reckless driving can result in jail time, underscoring the gravity with which Maryland views the endangerment of public safety. This potential incarceration, coupled with the financial and points penalties, illustrates the comprehensive approach Maryland takes to deter reckless driving. It’s a multifaceted penalty system designed not just to punish but to significantly disincentivize reckless behavior on the roads.

I Got an “Aggressive Driving” Ticket. Is This the Same Thing as a Reckless Driving Ticket?

Maryland law distinguishes aggressive driving from reckless and negligent driving. Under Maryland Code § 21-901.2, the law defines aggressive driving as “committing three or more of the following offenses at the same time or during a single and continuous period of driving.”Reckless driving Maryland


  • Violating traffic signals or signs
  • Unsafely overtaking or passing other vehicles
  • Passing on the right
  • Driving outside the marked lines
  • Following too closely (tailgating)
  • Failing to yield
  • Speeding

Will a Reckless Driving Ticket Affect My Commercial Driver’s License (Cdl)?

There are additional penalties should you be convicted of reckless driving while holding a commercial driver’s license. Maryland law created CDL penalties for “serious traffic violations,” which include reckless driving. If you are convicted of two serious traffic violations within a 3 year period, your CDL could be suspended for 60 days. If you are convicted of 3 serious traffic violations, your CDL could be suspended for 120 days. Losing your CDL for any period of time could severely impact your life, it is important that you are defended by an attorney who knows how to fight for your livelihood.

Will a Reckless Driving Ticket Affect My Provisional Driver’s License?

For individuals over 18, just a single ticket for reckless driving or any other moving violation, can result in you having to take a mandatory Driver Improvement Course. Two tickets could result in your provisional license being suspended for 30 days. Three or more violations could result in a 180-day suspension and possible revocation. To obtain a regular driver’s license, you must complete the provisional license period fully, without a violation. Any violation could restart the clock on your provisional license time table.

What is High Risk Driving by a Minor?

arrested for reckless driving maryland

The Maryland legislature created additional penalties for reckless driving as a minor (under 18). Maryland Code § 21-905 states that any holder of a provisional license under the age of 18 can be charged with “high risk driving.” To be found guilty, a judge must find that while the minor was driving, they were driving recklessly, negligently, aggressively, or participating in a street race or competition. If a minor is found guilty of High Risk Driving, they could have their license suspended for six months for a first offense and a full year for a second or subsequent offense.

What Does Getting Points on My License Mean?

Assessing points on your license is the Maryland MVA’s way of keeping track of each driver’s infractions. Any motor vehicle infraction, from speeding to DUIs, will result in a certain amount of points being assessed on your driving record. At 5 to 7 points, the MVA will require you to enroll in a Driver Improvement Program; at 8 to 11 points, the MVA will suspend your license; at 12 or more points, the MVA will revoke your license. Points stay on your license for two years from the date of the traffic infraction, regardless of when the citation is resolved by trial or direct payment.

Additionally, points on your license can result in increased rates from your insurance company. If you are facing suspension or revocation of your license, you have the right to appeal the decision. Working with an experienced reckless driving lawyer will greatly improve your chances at maintaining your driving privileges. For more information about the MVA point system, visit their website.

This is just an outline of reckless driving and other compatible laws in Maryland. Each situation is different and may require a further look at the rules and regulations of the roads. The privilege to drive is taken for granted my many and your world could be turned upside down should you lose this privilege. Reckless driving tickets are notorious for being left to the discretion of the police and judge. Make sure you protect yourself and your driving rights! Hiring the right lawyer who knows the ins and outs of Maryland traffic laws will make a world of difference. If you have received a reckless driving ticket or any other traffic infraction, make sure to contact Paolo Gnocchi at Scrofano Law. Attorney Gnocchi has handled hundreds of reckless driving cases and will be able to create the best defense strategy to protect you.

md criminal law cta square banner

Our Firm Provides Criminal Defense Representation in These and Other Maryland Areas

national college for dui logo
nacdl logo
bar association of montgomery county logo
dcbar logo
maryland criminal defense logo
msba logo