Reckless / Careless Driving

Speeding tickets are bad enough, but criminal charges for careless or reckless driving are much more serious. Both of these traffic violations are misdemeanor offenses that carry possible fines, jail time, and other consequences.

The statutory definitions of both reckless driving and careless driving are extremely broad, often leaving many alleged offenders feeling as though they did nothing to merit criminal charges. The severity of a guilty plea should not be ignored, as a conviction for either one of these violations can cause immense long-term problems.

Apple Valley Reckless Driving Lawyer

If you have been charged with reckless or careless driving in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel. James Blumberg Law defends clients all over Anoka County, Washington County, Scott County, Ramsey County, Hennepin County, Dakota County, and Carver County.

Apple Valley criminal defense attorney James Blumberg is a former prosecutor who fights to get the best outcomes for alleged offenders in Woodbury, Blaine, Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Plymouth, and several nearby areas. He can review your case and discuss all of your legal options with you as soon as you call (952) 431-7758 to schedule a free consultation.

Overview of Reckless Driving Offenses in Minnesota

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Reckless Driving vs. Careless Driving in Dakota County

Subdivision 1 of Minnesota Statute § 169.13 defines reckless driving as driving a motor vehicle while aware of and consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the driving may result in harm to another or another’s property. The statute notes that the risk “must be of such a nature and degree that disregard of it constitutes a significant deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.”

Racing any vehicle upon any street or highway in Minnesota also constitutes reckless driving. If an alleged offender willfully compares or contests relative speeds by operating one or more vehicles, it is deemed reckless driving—regardless of whether the speed contested or compared is in excess of the maximum speed prescribed by law.

Subdivision 2 of Minnesota Statute § 169.13 defines careless driving as operating or halting any vehicle upon any street or highway carelessly or heedlessly in disregard of the rights of others, or in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any property or any person, including the driver or passengers of the vehicle.

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Reckless and Careless Driving Penalties in Apple Valley

Careless driving and reckless driving are both classified as misdemeanor offenses. A conviction is punishable by:

  • Up to 90 days in jail; and/or
  • A fine of up to $1,000.

If an alleged offender commits reckless driving and causes great bodily harm—defined under Subdivision 8 of Minnesota Statute § 609.02 as bodily injury which creates a high probability of death, or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or which causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ or other serious bodily harm—or death to another, then the offense is classified as a gross misdemeanor. Such violations are punishable by:

  • Up to one year in jail; and/or
  • A fine of up to $3,000.

In addition to possible jail time and fines, alleged offenders who are convicted of reckless or careless driving can face other costly penalties. Insurance companies will typically use convictions for these violations as reasons to increase premiums—or in the case of repeat offenses, drop coverage altogether.

Furthermore, convictions for careless or reckless driving can also lead to possible suspension or revocation of driving privileges. If the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Service Division sends you a notice of withdrawal for your driver’s license, you have the right to request a hearing to contest the suspension or revocation.

It is also important to remember that a conviction for reckless or careless driving can be especially damaging in accidents causing great bodily harm or death, as alleged offenders can also be subject to civil actions in addition to the criminal charges.

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Fleeing Police Officer in a Vehicle

Another traffic violation that is prosecuted harshly under Minnesota law is fleeing a police officer in a vehicle. According to Minnesota Statute 609.487, fleeing or attempting to flee a police officer in a motor vehicle after he or she knows the officer is attempting to stop them is guilty of a felony offense.

A felony in Minnesota is punishable by up to 3 years of imprisonment and up to $5,000 in fines. The charges could increase if the offense results in injury or death:

(a) If the course of fleeing results in death, the punishment is up to 40 years in prison and/or up to $80,000 in fines.

(b) If the course of fleeing results in great bodily harm, the punishment is up to 7 years in prison and/or up to $14,000 in fines.

(c) If the course of fleeing results in substantial bodily harm, the punishment is up to 5 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines.

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Additional Resources

Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths (MN TZD): Distracted Driving — State law prohibits drivers of all ages from composing, reading, or sending electronic messages or accessing the Internet on wireless devices while vehicles are in motion or part of traffic—including being stopped in traffic or at a light—and distracted drivers may be ticketed for reckless or careless driving. MN TZD is “the state’s cornerstone traffic safety program, employing an interdisciplinary approach to reducing traffic crashes, injuries, and deaths on Minnesota roads.” On this section of the MN TZD website, you can find research about distracted driving as well as videos about the topic.

University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
200 Transportation & Safety Building
511 Washington Avenue SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 626-1077

Minnesota Driver’s Manual — The Minnesota Driver’s Manual provides a summary of state laws and rules for drivers. The definition of reckless driving was changed in the most recent update to the manual. The manual also includes several examples of when a motorist’s license might be suspended or revoked.

Driver and Vehicle Services
445 Minnesota Street
Suite 190 Town Square Building
Saint Paul MN 55101
(651) 297-3298

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Risky Driving –  Access the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website to view information regarding drunk driving, seat belts, distracted driving, speeding, and drowsy driving.

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Apple Valley Reckless Driving Lawyer | Dakota County, Minnesota

Have you been charged with careless or reckless driving in the Twin Cities? Either offense is a serious traffic violation for which you will want to be sure to have legal representation.

James Blumberg is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Apple Valley who defends clients in St. Cloud, Minnetonka, Lakeville, Eagan, Burnsville, Bloomington, and many surrounding communities. Call (952) 431-7758 or submit an online contact form today to let our lawyer evaluate your case during a free, confidential consultation.

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