Operating a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the safety of persons or property comes with the risk of a reckless operation citation. Reckless operation is a serious traffic offense that comes with more significant penalties and consequences than your average speeding ticket, so it’s important to know exactly what driving recklessly entails.

In this guide, we’ll cover the ins and outs of reckless operation in Ohio, including what constitutes reckless operation, some common examples of this offense, the associated penalties and driver’s license points, as well as frequently asked questions regarding reckless driving.

What Is Reckless Operation?

Reckless operation of a motor vehicle, more commonly known as reckless driving, is defined in the Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.20 as “operation in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property.” More specifically, this law states that “no person shall operate a vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar on any street or highway in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property.

The definition of reckless operation is intentionally vague as it allows law enforcement officers & prosecutors to determine whether or not your actions could be considered “willful and wanton disregard.”

What Constitutes “Willful or Wanton Disregard?”

As the definition for this offense is broad, there are a variety of situations that might be considered a “willful or wanton disregard for safety.” Generally speaking, any operation of a motor vehicle in a way that can cause serious physical harm or death to another individual can be considered reckless operation. Below are some common examples of traffic offenses that may result in a reckless driving conviction:

  • Excessive speeding
  • Improper passing or aggressive lane changing
  • Operating a vehicle without headlights at night
  • Driving the wrong way on a road or a highway
  • Distracted driving near pedestrian areas
  • Failure to yield while turning or changing lanes
  • Street racing or drag racing
  • Blatantly disobeying traffic signs, stop signs, or red lights

How Many Miles Over The Speed Limit Is Reckless Driving In Ohio?

It’s important to note that Ohio law does not explicitly state how many mph over the limit is considered reckless driving, but typically travelling in excess of 20mph over the limit can be considered driving recklessly.

Additionally, there are other factors that come into play for a reckless operation case, including weather conditions, the time of day, involvement of other motor vehicles, and whether or not the act could be considered negligent.

How Reckless Operation Differs From Operation Without Reasonable Control

Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.202 states that “No person shall operate a motor vehicle, trackless trolley, streetcar, agricultural tractor, or agricultural tractor that is towing, pulling, or otherwise drawing a unit of farm machinery on any street, highway, or property open to the public for vehicular traffic without being in reasonable control of the vehicle, trolley, streetcar, agricultural tractor, or unit of farm machinery.”

Similar to reckless operation, operation without reasonable control is rooted in negligence, specifically if that negligence can result in harm to another individual. Additionally, a “failure to maintain reasonable control” offense can result from even accidental negligence, like in the case of an accidentally losing control and causing a collision with another motor vehicle.

Reckless Operation & Vehicular Assault

Another traffic offense that’s related to reckless driving is known as vehicular assault. Vehicular assault occurs when a driver causes “serious physical harm” to another person while operating a motor vehicle, and this offense typically results in a fourth degree felony.

The possible consequences for a vehicular assault conviction can include six to 18 months in jail, up to $5,000 in fines, and potentially a one to five year license suspension.

What Are The Penalties For Reckless Operation In Ohio?

For a first offense, a reckless operation conviction is considered a minor misdemeanor, and it carries with it a maximum penalty of a $150 fine.

If you’re found guilty of a second reckless driving offense and have one previous traffic conviction within a year after your first, you will be charged with a fourth degree misdemeanor. This second reckless operation charge carries much steeper penalties, as you can face up to a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail plus a $250 fine.

Additionally, if found guilty of a third reckless operation offense within that year, you will be facing a third degree misdemeanor, a $500 fine, and up to 60 days of jail time. Although not required, a judge has the power to impose a six month to three year license suspension depending on the severity of the case, even if its your first offense.

How Many Points Is Reckless Driving In Ohio?

A reckless driving conviction automatically comes with a penalty of four points added to your Ohio driver’s license. Even if you’re facing your first offense, these points on your license aren’t ideal as they may negatively affect your insurance rates and can even result in your insurance policy being cancelled.

However; if you have prior traffic convictions, then a continued accumulation of points on your license will carry more significant penalties, ultimately resulting in a complete license suspension if a total 12 points are accumulated in a 24 month period.

If you’ve recently received points on your license from a reckless driving charge or a previous traffic conviction, then it is possible to receive a 2 point credit on your license with a remedial driving course.

How Long Does a Reckless Operation Offense Stay On Your License?

Unfortunately, a reckless operation offense will remain on your driving record forever, however the points on your license stemming from the charge will only be considered in regards to a license suspension for period of 24 months, starting on the date of your conviction. According to Ohio law, a driver who accumulates 12 points on their record during this two year period will face an automatic license suspension of six months.

This is known as a 12-point suspension, and requires the offender to pay hefty fines, complete a remedial driving course, and to retake a driver’s test in order to have their license reinstated. If a individual is found driving while under a 12-point suspension, this will add an additional six points onto their driving record.

What To Do If You’re Facing a Reckless Operation Charge In Ohio

The possible consequences of reckless driving in Ohio are significant, so if you’ve been charged with a reckless driving offense, the first thing to do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. A qualified attorney or law firm will be able to help you decide the best course of action as it applies to your specific situation.

In some cases, law enforcement officers will charge drivers with reckless operation even if the offense should have simply been speeding or another moving violation. With the help of an attorney, a driver may be able to successfully reduce a reckless driving charge to a lesser offense, or even get the charge completely dismissed.

Can an OVI Be Reduced to Reckless Operation?

In some cases, an OVI or a DUI charge can be reduced to a reckless driving offense. When a DUI case is plea bargained down to reckless operation, this is sometimes referred to as a wet reckless. A charge of driving recklessly typically carries less severe penalties than a DUI, so a wet reckless plea may mean smaller fines and less jail time than an DUI conviction. On top of that, a reckless driving conviction will result in less points being added to a driver’s record.

Whether or not a prosecutor is willing to offer a wet reckless depends on factors related to the case, including whether or not it is the driver’s first OVI/DUI, the drivers criminal record and prior convictions, and the blood alcohol concentration of the driver at the time of the offense. Additionally, if the overall evidence for the case is weak, a prosecutor may offer a wet reckless plea deal in order to avoid potentially losing at trial.

Can You Go To Jail For Reckless Operation In Ohio?

The short answer is yes, reckless driving can result in a jail sentence. As stated above, whether or not you receive jail time for a reckless operation offense depends on a variety of factors, including the severity of the offense, if there was an injury as a result of negligence, and whether or not you have previous applicable traffic convictions.

By default, your first reckless operation traffic offense results in a minor misdemeanor, and a second offense within a year will result in you being charged with a fourth degree misdemeanor. In addition to a $250 fine, a second offense comes with a potential for a maximum of 30 days in jail.

If you’ve been convicted of two or more motor vehicle offenses within the past year, your third offense will be considered a third degree misdemeanor, and you will face up to 60 days in jail with a maximum of $500 in fines. Additionally, if your reckless driving conviction constitutes vehicular assault, then you may be facing up to six to 18 months of jail time.

Can You Remove Points Associated With Reckless Driving From Your License?

If you’ve been convicted of driving recklessly and received points on your license as a result from this offense, then it is possible to receive a 2 point credit on your license through the completion of a remedial driving course, though you must meet eligibility requirements outlined below:

  • Have at least 2 points on your driving record
  • Do not have more than 12 points on your record
  • Have not taken another remedial driving course within the past three years

If you meet the above requirements, then you will be eligible to complete a remedial driving course and have a 2 point credit added to your driving record. In the past, state laws required that this type of course be completed in person; however, the Ohio BMV has approved a online remedial driving class, and such a course can be taken on right here on ImprovedDriving.com.

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