Dangerous, negligent and reckless driving often go hand in hand, and it is not unusual for a defendant to see various combinations of the three when charged. There are substantial differences between them, however, that can greatly impact the level of trouble a driver will find him or herself in and varying levels of proof needed. Here is a rundown of the differences between the three driving offenses.
Dangerous driving occurs when a driver does not exercise the same amount of care or decision making while behind the wheel in a situation as what would be considered acceptable and expected by the average reasonable person. The general circumstances are taken into consideration when determining whether a person engaged in dangerous driving such as where the event took place, the time and the likelihood of others in the vicinity. On its own, a dangerous driving charge is a low level infraction; however, it can be tacked onto a higher level offense and add to the disciplinary action.
Negligence occurs when a person has a legal obligation to act in a certain manner that is dictated by law but then breaches that duty by either acting in a particular way or failing to act at all. There is a certain standard that a driver should adhere to if they are acting in a competent and reasonable manner. Damage or harm that is inflicted onto another person or property as a direct result of the driver’s actions or failure to act is considered a result of negligent driving. This is often classified as a traffic infraction.
Reckless driving occurs in cases where negligence is present, but on a much larger scale. The driver has not only taken risks that are unnecessary, but has done so in areas where there is a high likelihood of injury occurring to another person or property. Acting in a reckless manner while behind the wheel can be seen not only as a serious traffic violation, but also as the state of mind of the driver at the time he or she blatantly disregarded the law. Due to the willfulness and intention that often accompanies reckless driving, it is the most serious of the three and often is considered criminal activity as opposed to a moving violation.