Reckless driving is a criminal traffic offense in Georgia. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in Georgia. The Georgia Statute for reckless driving reads as follows:
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390. Reckless driving:
(a) Any person who drives any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property commits the offense of reckless driving.
(b) Every person convicted of reckless driving shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000.00 or imprisonment not to exceed 12 months, or by both such fine and imprisonment, provided that no provision of this Code section shall be construed so as to deprive the court imposing the sentence of the power given by law to stay or suspend the execution of such sentence or to place the defendant on probation.
Of course, the most important phrase in O.C.G.A. 40-6-390 is “reckless disregard.” The Supreme Court has stated that reckless disregard is “a recklessness or carelessness so as to show a disregard of consequences or a heedless indifference for the safety and rights of others who might reasonably be expected to be injured thereby.”
Whether a driver was in reckless disregard of the safety of other persons or property is a decision that is left up to the prosecutor, judge, and jury. Reckless disregard can mean any number of things, from speeding well in excess of the posted limit, to running a red light directly through heavy traffic, or changing lanes at high speeds.
Sometimes, it is fairly obvious why an officer has chosen to charge a Georgia driver with reckless driving. If a Georgia driver is going 120 miles per hour (mph) on a road with a 35 mph speed limit, chances are that a reckless driving ticket will be issued and its very understandable why. However, if the driver is going 80 mph it will be up to the officer to decide whether the driver’s actions are just irresponsible or whether the driver has committed reckless driving.
A driver does not have to intend to drive recklessly. The Georgia Supreme Court has stated that “criminal negligence may support the offense of reckless driving.”