Reckless driving is considered a criminal offense in Alabama.
Simply being out on the road together with all other vehicles is already dangerous enough — even more so when the steering wheel is placed in the hands of someone who has no regard for road safety
So because it is a dangerous and a criminal offense, you might be wondering about the reckless driving laws in Alabama.
Today, we’ll talk about everything you should know, including:
- Definition and examples of reckless driving
- Difference between DUI and reckless driving
- Penalties for reckless driving
- How many points does reckless driving give
- Getting a plea bargain for reckless driving
- Why you should follow reckless driving laws
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started right away!
What is Considered Reckless Driving in Alabama?
Alabama defines reckless driving as any person who:
- “carelessly and heedlessly drives in willful or wanton disregard for the rights or safety of persons or property,”
- “without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property.”
In short, any person who drives with negligence of others’ safety can count as reckless driving. The statement itself is vague, but it can include specific situations such as:
- Driving excessively over the speed limit
- Beating the red light
- Swerving from lane to lane
- Repeatedly switching lanes without signaling
- Refusing to stop at stop signs
Is DUI Considered Reckless Driving in Alabama?
In theory, driving under the influence (DUI) is a reckless act, but by Alabama law, it’s considered a step above reckless driving.
If a person is charged with DUI, they may face steeper penalties, longer imprisonment sentences, and possibly a permanently tarnished criminal record.
How steep, you may ask? The minimum mandatory fine for a first DUI offense is $600, compared to the $25 minimum fine for reckless driving.
There are instances where a DUI charge can be reduced to what is termed ‘wet reckless driving’ — a lighter conviction with more lenient penalties — which can be achieved with a plea bargain (we’ll discuss this later on).
Penalties for Reckless Driving in Alabama
Now, penalties for reckless driving depend on the circumstances. Generally, however, these are the possible consequences:
- First offense. A first reckless driving offense carries 5 to 90 days in jail and/or $25 to $500 in fines.
- Repeat offense. Second or subsequent reckless driving offenses can result in 10 days to 6 months jail time and/or $50 to $500 in fines. The court can ban you from driving on the road for up to 6 months. You can also get your license suspended if you’re a repeat offender.
- If you’ve had 3 reckless driving convictions all within a year, your license can get revoked. You can apply for a new license once the revocation period has expired.
How Many Points is Reckless Driving in Alabama?
Like many other states, Alabama has an established point system. This determines whether or not your license is eligible for suspension.
Reckless driving gets you 6 points — the highest possible score you can get for a road violation. Normally, your license won’t get suspended if it’s only your first offense.
But once you’ve reached a certain number of points within a 2-year period, a license suspension is guaranteed. The length of suspension depends on the number of points:
- 12-14 points in a 2-year period — 60 days
- 15-17 points in a 2-year period — 90 days
- 18-20 points in a 2-year period — 120 days
- 21-23 points in a 2-year period — 180 days
- 24 and above points in a 2-year period — 365 days
Note: The points for traffic convictions expire after the 2-year period but will remain on the driver’s record nonetheless.
Can You Get a Plea Bargain for Reckless Driving in Alabama?
A plea bargain is a trade offer between the prosecutor and the defendant. For example, the defendant will plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence and to avoid a criminal trial. This benefits all parties involved as it can save time and expenses for everyone.
It’s the easiest route to take as a defendant. However, for some reckless driving cases, accepting a plea bargain may not be the best option. In fact, if the prosecutor doesn’t persist against you, you can even get your case dismissed altogether.
Either way, the best choice you have is to always consult your defense attorney first. Avoid making rash decisions because you need to take a reckless driving charge seriously. Remember, it’s not a ticket violation, it’s already a criminal offense.
Why You Should Follow Reckless Driving Laws
Driving laws exist for a reason — its primary one being safety for all.
When out on the road, you are now responsible not only for yourself but for every single driver, pedestrian, and property around you.
The advantages of abiding by the rules far outweigh the disadvantages that come with it. A violation is just a violation until someone gets hurt, so avoid making a habit out of misbehaving.
If you become lenient with yourself, a mere violation can eventually turn into a criminal offense. Once this happens, you’re not just compromising public safety anymore. You’re compromising your civil records as well.
Did you know that anyone can request your Alabama driving records? This includes employers, insurance companies, and the government.
A stained record can mean pricier insurance premiums, job rejections, trouble with acquiring properties, etc. It’s an inconvenience at best and a trample on your civil rights at worst.
If safety isn’t your top concern (which it should be!), then consider the social crutches you have to face when it comes to being convicted with a reckless driving crime.
A reckless driving charge isn’t a simple ticket violation — it’s far worse than that. You can face jail time, fines, and a possible criminal record.
Facing a reckless driving charge can be a huge inconvenience and a time-sink on your end—so it’s best to avoid that altogether by behaving out on the road and prioritizing your safety and everyone around you.
Now that you know what is considered reckless driving in Alabama, and the consequences of reckless driving, we hope that you’re more careful and follow the rules!
This article is part of our series on Alabama Driving Laws. You can view all these laws here!