Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle: What Does That Mean in Atlanta?

Reckless driving, in Georgia, occurs when a person drives a vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property.  Reckless driving is a misdemeanor punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both. Of course, a definition that tells you that reckless driving is driving recklessly isn’t very helpful, even to a lawyer.  So, let’s look at some actual examples of reckless driving in Georgia.


Georgia does not set a particular speed defining “reckless driving,” as many other states do. Instead, Georgia was the first state to enact a “super speeder” law.  Under that law, the Department of Driver Services will impose a fee, over and above any other fines or penalties, of $200.00 from any driver doing over 85 on any road and over 75 on any two-lane road or highway. Failure to pay this fee results in a license suspension and additional costs.

Passing on the Shoulder or Emergency Lane

Passing on the shoulder or in an emergency lane is prohibited in Georgia. You could pay a fine and may prevent a vehicle, such as an ambulance, which is entitled to use the shoulder from getting through. Worse, if your decision to use the shoulder results in a death, you could be charged with endangerment or negligent homicide.

Disobeying Traffic Signs and Signals

Disregarding a traffic signal, failing to obey a traffic signal, and tampering with traffic signs while driving are all offenses that will garner you three points against your license. They are also violations of traffic regulations.  Among these offenses are running a stop sign or red light, failing to stop at a flashing red light or slow down at a flashing yellow, and turning where and how prohibited. In addition to the points, you can pay fines of up to $1000 and will suffer higher insurance premiums. Some of these can also be civil infractions with additional penalties, though they are generally small.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is probably the fastest-growing cause of road accidents in the world. People text, talk on hand-held devices, select their music, adjust their makeup, and eat their lunch, all while operating thousands of pounds of lethal machinery. Distracted driving is illegal in Georgia and, if you are found to have been engaging in it during an accident, you can be held liable for the total cost of the accident.


A DUI in Georgia is a  separate offense. However, a person who may be driving under the influence can also be charged with reckless driving, even if that person’s Blood Alcohol level is below the legal limit. Because of the severe penalties on DUI convictions, lawyers will often attempt to plead a DUI charge down to a reckless drive charge on its own.

Contact an Atlanta Car Accident Attorney Today

If a reckless driver in Georgia has injured you or a loved one, you need the counsel of an experienced and knowledgeable car accident attorneyContact us today or call 404-689-2767 for an initial consultation and case review.

Reckless Driving FAQs

How long does a reckless driving citation stay on my license?

It varies from state to state, but it is permanently part of your record in Georgia. It can only be removed from your record if the case was not prosecuted or dismissed and there were no other charges.

Is reckless driving a criminal offense?

Yes, in all fifty states. In Georgia, reckless driving is a misdemeanor, not a moving violation. It is also an offense that allows a prosecutor to charge any serious injury or death resulting from the accident as a felony.

Why would I want to get a DUI changed to a charge of reckless driving?

The severity of the penalties – which is huge – between the two offenses is the primary reason for seeking to plead down to reckless driving. The state of Georgia does not keep records of cases that began as DUIs and ended as reckless driving. However, even the reckless driving conviction will have serious consequences, including the suspension of the licenses of a reckless driver under 21 and possible substantial increases to your insurance premiums.