Tulsa Attorney BlogCareless Driving & Reckless Driving: What’s the Difference in Oklahoma?

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Video Transcribed: What’s the difference between careless driving and reckless driving in Oklahoma? I’m Tulsa Traffic Ticket Attorney James Wirth, and that’s the question for the day, the differences between careless driving and reckless driving. And we’ve got statutory definitions for each one, however, they’re somewhat subjective in their terms. So sometimes it’s up to the eye of the beholder. In the case of a traffic citation, that could be up to the officer in deciding which one he wants to make the ticket for.

But the big difference, the quantitative difference between the two is a conviction for reckless driving is four points on your driver’s license, a conviction for careless driving is two points on your driver’s license, which means often if you’re an attorney working the case and it looks like a case where a conviction is going to be had, there’s not a way to do a deferred sentence or something to avoid that, you may want the reduced charge of careless driving as opposed to reckless driving and want to make arguments for that.

But what are the definitions of each? Here’s the information pursuant to the statute. So reckless driving in Oklahoma says, “It shall be deemed reckless driving for any person to drive a motor vehicle in a careless or wanton manner without regard for the safety of persons or property.” So that’s the big thing we want to look at is driving without regard for the safety of persons or property. That’s part of the reckless driving definition, it’s not part of the careless driving definition.

And here’s the careless driving definition. “Any person driving a vehicle shall drive the same at a careful and prudent speed, not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the roadway and any other conditions then existing.” And it also has a separate definition, which includes reckless driving and that is, “No person shall drive any vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than will permit them to bring it to a stop within an assured clear distance.”

So for careless driving, you have to be driving slow enough that you can stop without hitting things and with due regard for the conditions of the roadway. So you have to drive as a reasonably prudent person. So as I mentioned previously, those are fairly subjective standards. Although they’re a technical objective standard, it’s difficult to say exactly what is reasonable and prudent under some specific circumstances.

But they have the additional elements of what careless or wanton manner without regard for the safety of others in order to get the reckless driving. So long story short, if you are being pulled over for erratic driving or something along those lines, the officer has some discretion on how they want to write that ticket. Sometimes it makes sense to be courteous to the police officer and hope if they are going to write you something, they can elect to write carelessly instead of reckless if they’re going that direction anyway.

If you’re in court, you could try to argue for a reduction with dealing with the prosecutor, argued that it should be reduced as part of getting that entered. If you’re in those circumstances, in either case, reckless driving or careless driving, you’re looking at points on your driver’s license, two points for careless, four points for reckless, if you get a conviction. So you want to avoid a conviction if possible. If you’re dealing with those circumstances, you may want to hire an attorney.

It’s usually cheaper to do that than have the long-term effects of increased insurance costs by having those points on your license if an attorney can help you avoid that. So if you want to talk to somebody more specifically about that, you can reach somebody at my office. Get an appointment scheduled by going online to makelaweasy.com.

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