Reckless Driving Law – Pennsylvania



The reckless driving law prohibits anyone from driving a vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Reckless driving requires driving that not only grossly deviates from ordinary prudence, but also creates a substantial risk that property damage or personal injury will follow, and it is also necessary that the driving reflect a conscious disregard for the danger being created by the reckless driving.


Summary offense
$200.00 fine
Jail up to 90 days
License suspension: 6 months


When someone is convicted of reckless driving, PENNDOT will schedule a hearing to determine whether and for what duration the individual’s license should be suspended.

Drivers that attend the hearing should come prepared with a strong defense strategy in order to receive reduced points, prevent suspensions, or become eligible for a hardship license.


There are two basic elements for reckless driving: an actus reus of driving a vehicle and a mens rea of willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Experience criminal defense lawyers may try to distinguish between “conscious disregard” and “careless disregard”. Failure of the prosecution to prove “conscious disregard” will result in an acquittal of the charge of reckless driving. There are many acts or incidents that can cause an officer to charge an individual with reckless driving; however, not all of the acts or incidents rise to the level that is needed in order to prove each element of the offense. For example, driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance or speeding do not automatically establish recklessness.

Other strategies to consider include pleading to a lesser offense such as careless driving. A careless driving plea will not cause an automatic license suspension. Pleading to a lesser offense must be done carefully since lesser offenses may carry points to be assessed by PennDOT. If an individual receives too many points, then the individual may still face a license suspension after a PennDOT administrative hearing.


Experienced attorneys can give the client an honest assessment of the merits of the charges and the likelihood that a Judge in the magisterial district court will find for the Commonwealth and against the defendant. Bringing an attorney with you to court will also significantly increase the likelihood that a plea deal can be reached to avoid a license suspension. An attorney can also help with expungement of the charges after five years have passed.

If you have been charged with reckless driving, contact an experienced attorney at The Martin Law Firm, P.C. to discuss your case. Our attorneys are available at 215-687-4053.