Reckless Driving in Wisconsin: Penalties and Next Steps

Updated by Stangl Law on May 10, 2021

blur-bokeh-dark-376533Reckless Driving in Wisconsin

Wisconsin, along with every other state, has strict laws against reckless driving––an offense that occurs when a motorist operate a vehicle in such a way that poses a risk of injury to others.

Reckless driving is different than many other Wisconsin traffic laws as each offense depends in large part on the specific circumstances of each individual case.

This article will take a closer look at what constitutes reckless driving, explore contributing factors, present penalties for reckless driving in Wisconsin and offer tips on where to start if you or a loved one have been charged with this criminal offense.

Read on: What a Reckless Endangerment with a Firearm Charge Means in Wisconsin

What Qualifies for Reckless Driving in Wisconsin?

Here in Wisconsin, there are a number of specific actions that qualify for reckless driving. These include:

  • OWI (drunk driving)
  • Cosmetic or hygienic tasks like putting on makeup
  • Unlawful racing
  • Eating behind the wheel
  • Texting while driving

Along with these specific actions, Wisconsin motorists can face reckless driving convictions whenever they’re shown to have driven in an unreasonably dangerous or risky manner.

Read on: 4th Offense OWI: Now a Felony in Wisconsin

What Factors Contribute to Reckless Driving in Wisconsin?

A number of factors play into a reckless driving case.

Environmental factors

The time of day, weather conditions, quality of the vehicle, and the presence of other people or animals in the area are a few common environmental factors that are reviewed.

Driving on a slippery roadway amongst a large group of people, for instance, may place a greater expectation of safety on a driver than someone driving alone in a desert.

A willful disregard for safety

In order to qualify as reckless driving, the prosecution must show the driver making more than just a mistake behind the wheel. A driver must act willfully with a disregard for safety.

Prosecutors must show that circumstances caused the motorist to know, or that they should have known their actions weren’t safe.

“Safety” in this case, doesn’t just mean other people, either. Reckless driving can occur when no one else (or no property) was at risk––just the driver themselves.

What are the Penalties of Reckless Driving in Wisconsin?

Penalties for reckless driving in Wisconsin can include:

  • Fines of $150 or more
  • Revocation of drivers’ license
  • Termination of one’s employment, depending on the circumstances of your case

In addition to this, reckless driving can cost you six points from a standard operator’s license.

Read on: How to Protect Your Driving Privileges While Fighting OWI in Wisconsin

Facing Reckless Driving Charges Wisconsin: What To Do Next?

While first-time reckless driving offenses typically carry civil penalties in the form of fines, subsequent convictions can raise those fines significantly and even include jail time.

If you’re facing reckless driving charges in Wisconsin, it’s important to discuss your case with an experienced Wisconsin Criminal Defense attorney as soon as possible.



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Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney Pat Stangl has a long track record of success in both OWI and traffic law defense in Wisconsin.

To request a free, no-obligation consultation with Madison Criminal Defense Attorney Pat Stangl, click the link below today.

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Topics: Other Criminal Charges, Drunk Driving Charges (OWI)



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