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Reckless Driving: Does the Ticket Always Reflect the Action?


CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 23103, Public Offenses, provides that, “A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” Reckless driving is not an infraction; it is a misdemeanor crime. You need a knowledgeable and experienced traffic ticket defense attorney.

There is nothing in the CA traffic law that ties speeding and reckless driving. A reckless driver might be guilty of speeding, but a speeder is not necessarily a reckless driver regardless of the speed they were driving. A judge could dismiss the ticket for reckless driving if there is nothing in the LEO’s statement besides speed that warrants a “wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”

Criminal Penalties for a Reckless Driving Conviction

The LEO could impound your vehicle for 30 days when arrested for reckless driving. That means you will not get your car back for 30 days. You will need to pay towing and storage at the Kern County rate. For more information on the maximum charges allowed, Contact the Bakersfield Police Department or California Highway Patrol, whichever agency towed the car. You must request an impound hearing in order to get your car out sooner. However, if you wait the 30 days, you will still pay an admin fee of $85, plus towing and storage.

Besides the $1000 or more you will pay if your car gets impounded, a conviction for reckless driving carries a jail sentence of five to 90 days; $145 to $1000 base fine, which could be five to seven times that much when you add the ten state and county surcharges, fees, and assessments; a driver’s license suspension or revocation, especially for a second conviction; and the DMV will assess two Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) points.

The NOTS points might seem inconsequential when compared to the other penalties, but once your insurance company learns of the conviction, they will put you in higher risk category, and your premiums will likely triple if they decide to retain you. No law says they must. In fact, you will need an SR-22 Proof of Financial Responsibility form to get your license reinstated after suspension for reckless driving.

California drivers who get convicted of specific violations, such as reckless driving, are often required to buy an SR-22 insurance policy. The insurance provider must submit an SR-22 form to the DMV. This form merely confirms you have auto insurance that meets or exceeds the California minimum liability obligation. However, because of your conviction, the premium you pay will be much higher.

Consult with a Traffic Defense Attorney about Reckless Driving

Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, immediately when charged with reckless driving. DO NOT make any statement to law enforcement or officers of the court before talking to us. In fact, it is best not to speak with anyone at all about your charges until you can meet with us.

Bakersfield Court in Kern County is a tough court, and many attorneys do not like to practice there. However, we have had a great deal of success defending reckless driving and speeding 100+ mph there.

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Contact our staff by phone or email,, we will get back to you when we return from traffic court. We offer a free initial phone consultation with no obligation; give us a call. As California's leading traffic defense team, we work hard for drivers to get the best outcome.


CVC 23103, Public Offenses

The Hanford PD website