There is often confusion between the Washington State criminal traffic charge of Reckless Driving, RCW 46.61.500, and the traffic infraction ticket of Negligent Driving 2°, RCW 46.61.525.
Reckless Driving is much more serious. It’s a gross misdemeanor criminal offense, punishable by up to 364 days jail, up to a $5,000 fine, and a 30 day license suspension. It requires both dangerous driving and driving with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property”. In other words bad driving with a reckless attitude. Both must be present. Otherwise, it’s just Negligent Driving 2°.
Negligent Driving 2° is a non criminal traffic infraction punishable by a maximum penalty of $550.00. There is no license suspension penalty. It only requires dangerous driving without a reckless attitude. Or committing two or more minor traffic violations at the same time, e.g., speeding and running a stop sign or changing lanes without signaling and tailgating.
Many police officers also don’t know the difference between Reckless Driving and Negligent Driving 2°. Many mistakenly think that speeding 30 miles or more over the speed limit constitutes Reckless Driving. Many officers mistakenly think that any minor traffic violation that results in an accident constitutes Negligent Driving 2°.
Lynnwood criminal defense lawyer Paul Hanson has over 39 plus years defending Reckless Driving charges and Negligent Driving 2° traffic infractions. Call 425-778-7339 for a free first consultation (office visit or telephone call).