Reckless Driving Tickets

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What is Reckless Driving?

A person who drives a vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of person or property is guilty of reckless driving.

See A.R.S. 28-693(A) for the specific language of the law.

What are some situations where we see tickets issued for reckless driving?

A reckless driving ticket in Arizona can be issued anytime a police officer believes a driver is putting other people or property in danger. Opinions vary on what exactly constitutes danger to people or property, but here are some examples of situations where we see reckless driving tickets:

  • Egregious speeding. This depends on the jurisdiction, but sometimes we see reckless driving tickets together with excessive speed tickets when the speeds are 40, 50, 60, or more mph over the posted speed limit.
  • A pattern of moving violations. If a police officer observes a driver commit a series of moving violations, he might write a ticket for reckless driving or aggressive driving.
  • Donuts or burnouts on private property.
  • Some traffic accidents can result in a reckless driving ticket. Most accidents are just a driver mistake, but if the driver was doing something like speeding or a burnout that caused the accident, a reckless driving ticket might be issued.

What Are The Penalties For A Reckless Driving Conviction?

These are the consequences that are possible under the law:


  • A class 2 misdemeanor conviction
  • Fines up to $750 plus surcharges and court assessments that could nearly double the total fine
  • Up to 4 months in jail.
  • Up to 2 years probation
  • The judge may suspend your driving privileges for up to 90 days. See A.R.S. 28-693(C).

For the majority of people, if they are found guilty the consequences include:


  • Class 2 misdemeanor conviction.
  • Fines less than the maximum
  • Jail time is rare, but it does happen. We most often see jail in city courts like Scottsdale City Court.
  • Probation is rare.

There can also be some collateral consequences:


A second reckless driving conviction carries more serious consequences.


If you have been convicted in the previous 24 months of any of the following violations:

  • reckless driving
  • negligent homicide with a car
  • manslaughter with a car
  • racing
  • DUI
  • extreme DUI
  • aggravated DUI

a reckless driving conviction becomes a class 1 misdemeanor with mandatory jail time. See A.R.S. 28-693(D)(1).


Penalties for a second conviction could include:


  • Minimum 20 days in jail with the possibility of up to 6 months in jail.
  • The fine increases to $2,500 plus surcharges, bringing the total possible fine close to $5,000.
  • Up to 3 years probation.
  • Mandatory 1 year license revocation.
  • Plus all of the collateral consequences that go with any reckless driving conviction.

How do you fight a reckless driving ticket?

We take a two-pronged approach to every case.


We thoroughly investigate the facts and details for legal issues. We are looking for information that we can use to cast a reasonable doubt on the allegations.

  • If the reckless driving charge is speed-related, is the speed measurement defective?
  • Did the officer lose visual contact of the vehicle?
  • Do the allegations meet the statutory requirements? For example, were there people or property nearby to “recklessly disregard”?
  • Did some emergency circumstance exist that necessitated reckless driving?
  • Is what the officer is claiming even possible?

We also present our clients and their background in the best possible light. Even when there is no legal argument, often our client’s good background and driving history can be enough to negotiate the desired outcome.

  • Clean driving record
  • History of community service
  • School or employment history
  • Immigration Status
  • Other mitigating details
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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Is reckless driving a jury eligible charge?

Yes, reckless driving is a jury-eligible charge, so instead of a judge, you could choose to have a selection of people from the court’s jurisdiction decide whether or not you were driving recklessly.

How many points is reckless driving?

8 points.

If you are convicted of reckless driving, the court where you are convicted will transmit a record of that conviction to the Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicles Division (MVD for short). When the MVD is notified of a conviction, they will assess 8 points on your driving record. Check out this post for more discussion about points.

8 points means that the MVD will send you a letter saying you have to complete an 8-hour Traffic Survival School (TSS) class to avoid a license suspension. If you have taken TSS in the previous 24 months, you will just get a 3-month suspension.

These MVD consequences are in addition to any consequences imposed by the court.

Even if you do not have an Arizona driver license, the Arizona MVD will still impose essentially the same penalties. The MVD will create a record for you, send you the same letter about traffic survival school, or issue a suspension of your driving privileges.

These MVD consequences will likely also impact an out of state driver license. Arizona, and most other states, participate in an interstate Driver License Compact. This is an agreement between states to share information about driver license records and suspensions.

How long will my case take?

Three to four months is usually a good estimate of time.

Will I have to appear in court?

If you hire an attorney, your attorney can often attend the pretrial conferences without you. Some courts require that a defendant attend pretrial conferences, but this is the exception rather than the rule. We represent many clients from out-of-state who never return to Arizona or attend court. You can discuss whether or not your presence is necessary with your attorney. If your case goes to trial, you will almost certainly need to attend the trial in person.

What if I don’t live in Arizona?

Most courts will let you appear by telephone for court appearances other than a trial. Some courts may require you to make this request in writing, others not. If you live out of state, call the court and ask them about their policies regarding telephonic appearances. If you have an attorney, your attorney can take care of this. If your case ends up going to trial, you will need to come back to Arizona for the trial. If your case is resolved without going to trial, you probably won’t need to physically return to Arizona.

Will a reckless driving conviction affect my job?

It depends.

This will of course depend on your job, but for the vast majority of people, the answer is probably not. We frequently represent clients who are required to undergo background checks as part of their job, or who hold security clearances, or who have professional licenses (like attorneys or doctors), and a reckless driving conviction probably won’t derail your career. However, a reckless driving conviction will likely require an explanation, and it is always ideal to avoid having to make that explanation.

For some jobs though, a reckless driving conviction can be a big problem. For example, licensed healthcare professionals are required to report a conviction and even an arrest for reckless driving. This issue is the State of Arizona has decided that reckless driving is a charge that implicates patient safety.

If you are concerned about how a reckless driving conviction could impact your job, you may want to review your company’s policies regarding reckless driving convictions and consult an attorney about your specific situation.

Will a criminal conviction affect my immigration status?

Maybe. We always advise our clients to consult with an immigration attorney to get a definitive answer to this question. 

In another post, we discuss potential immigration consequences with immigration attorney Jessica Cadavid.

Can I go to jail for reckless driving?

Yes. It is a class 2 misdemeanor, which means up to 4 months in jail is possible. In reality, we rarely see jail time unless the driver has a prior reckless driving conviction.

Can I get a reckless driving ticket for speeding in Arizona?

Yes. Many police officers (and judges unfortunately) believe that speeding can present a reckless disregard for the safety of people or property. The likelihood of a reckless driving ticket from speeding increases as the speed increases. We see this combination often in Scottsdale City Court.

Can I set aside a reckless driving conviction?

In the event you are convicted of reckless driving, you can apply to the court to have the conviction set aside. This application can be made anytime after all of the sentencing requirements have been completed. In most cases, this means after the fines have been paid.

If the court grants the request, and it is at the court’s discretion, then the conviction is set aside. This means that if someone were to conduct a criminal background check, this charge would still be reflected there, but the disposition or outcome would say “set aside and dismissed” rather than show that you had been convicted.

In other words, once the conviction is set aside, it means you have no longer been convicted of the charge.

It has been our experience that most courts are pretty generous with granting applications to set aside convictions.

Unfortunately, setting aside a conviction does not undo any MVD consequences or remove the violation from your driving record.

Why would a police officer issue a reckless driving ticket when there was no reckless driving?

Sometimes a driver is not driving recklessly, but gets charged with reckless driving anyway.

We frequently see a reckless driving charge tacked on to a criminal speed/excessive speedticket. The police officer’s position is typically that it was reckless to drive at an excessive speed. While we can often get the reckless driving charge dismissed, the fact that reckless driving was charged in the first place makes it more difficult to get rid of the less serious criminal speed charge.

It is our opinion that police officers add reckless driving to criminal speed tickets, even when there is no basis for the charge, because doing so places the driver in a worse bargaining position when negotiating with the prosecutor. This results in an increased conviction rate for excessive speed charges.

Whereas if the officer just issued a ticket for an excessive speed charge alone, there is a good change the driver can avoid a criminal conviction entirely.

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