What Is Reckless Driving in Wyoming?

Reckless driving is a serious offense that carries significant penalties. If you were charged with reckless driving in Wyoming, the criminal defense team at Just Criminal Law can help. We can evaluate your situation, explain your options, and defend you against reckless driving charges. We will work to have the charges reduced, minimize the severity of the penalties you face, or have the case dismissed.

What Is Reckless Driving?

Under Wyoming law, “Any person who drives a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty or reckless driving.”

“Willful and wanton conduct” means something more than inattention, inadvertence, thoughtlessness, or mistake. Rather, it is “the intentional doing of an act, or an intentional failure to do an act, in reckless disregard of the consequences and under circumstances and conditions that a reasonable person would know, or have reason to know that such conduct would, in a high degree of probability, result in harm to another.”

Examples of reckless driving include:

  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Aggressive or careless lane changes
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Following too closely (tailgating)
  • Illegal passing
  • Street racing
  • Excessive speed
  • Evading law enforcement

Is Reckless Driving Different from Careless Driving?

Wyoming also recognizes the offense of careless driving, which occurs when a person “drives any vehicle in a manner inconsistent with the exercise of due and diligent care normally exercised by a reasonably prudent person under similar circumstances and where such operation of a motor vehicle creates an unreasonable risk of harm to other persons or property.”

Reckless driving and careless driving are separate offenses in Wyoming. The difference between reckless driving and careless driving is often one of degree.

  • Careless driving occurs when a person is not paying attention and makes a mistake, such as failing to look both ways, not stopping at a stop sign, or exceeding the speed limit.
  • Reckless driving requires something more, and the prosecutor must show that the driver deliberately did something dangerous, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Careless driving is a traffic infraction typically charged when a driver fails to exercise due care while driving.

Reckless driving is a criminal offense that is charged when a driver operates their vehicle in a way that displays a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others.

What Are the Penalties for Charges of Reckless Driving or Careless Driving?

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor, punishable by a $750 fine or up to six months in jail. The ticketed driver must also pay a surcharge of between $150 and $350 for a first-time conviction, and not less than $200 or more than $400 for a subsequent conviction. In addition, the State of Wyoming will suspend your driver’s license for 90 days for a first-time conviction, and for six months if you are convicted a second time within five years.

The penalties for careless driving are generally less severe than for reckless driving and include:

  • A $200 fine for a first offense.
  • A fine of $300 for a second offense within a year.
  • For a third or subsequent offense within a year, a driver faces a $500 fine and up to six months in jail.

Defenses to Reckless Driving Charges

Defeating a reckless driving charge often requires undermining evidence the prosecutor claims shows that a driver exhibited a reckless disregard for the consequences of the driver’s actions. Professional knowledge and skill are required to accomplish this task, and experienced legal representation is essential.

Defending against careless driving charges may include showing that the driver was not behaving carelessly, did not intend to cause harm, or was responding to an emergency.

How an Experienced Reckless Driving Defense Lawyer Can Help

The criminal and traffic defense team at Just Criminal Law vigorously defends people charged with reckless driving and careless driving in Wyoming. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of people accused of crimes in Gillette and throughout Eastern Wyoming. To put our expertise to work for you, contact us today to schedule your personalized case review and strategy session.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.