A violation of a VTL 1212 reckless driving ticket is a very serious charge with many costs. Outside New York City, reckless driving tickets are not routinely issued in New York. However, in the 5 boroughs, they are dispensed like candy.
VTL § 1212 defines reckless driving as follows:
“Reckless driving shall mean driving or using any motor vehicle, motorcycle or any other vehicle propelled by any power other than muscular power or any appliance or accessory thereof in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway. Reckless driving is prohibited. Every person violating this provision shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” (emphasis added)
The interpretation of “unreasonably interferes” and “unreasonably endangers” according to the NYPD is quite broad. Often, NYPD officers will issue such tickets for committing a simple traffic violation, and NYC judges will find them sufficiently-issued despite the lack of some aggravating factor.
For instance, we see motorists who inadvertently go the wrong way up a one-way street get written up for reckless driving (despite being able to safely back up and correct themselves without an accident or near accident). While this conduct may not actually be “reckless”, we often see reckless driving tickets issued for such a maneuver.
In such case, the motorist’s should fight the reckless driving charge at trial or negotiate a plea bargain (pleading guilty is not a viable option in my opinion). However, the stakes are generally too high to risk taking such a case to trial.
So what are the stakes? The literal answer to the question of what is the cost of a reckless driving ticket is that it is between $100 to $300 for a first offense (with the maximum increasing substantially for additional offenses within 18 months). The fine, of course, does not include the $70 additional New York State surcharge imposed on all moving violations and possible other court costs.
However, there are many other “costs” of an NY reckless driving ticket. Indeed, the single worst “costs” of a reckless driving conviction are possible jail time and the creation of a criminal record. Reckless driving is not only a moving violation but also a criminal (misdemeanor) offense. A reckless driver can be imprisoned for up to 30 days for a first offense, up to 90 days for a second offense and up to 180 for a third offense. The likelihood of jail time increases if there are aggravating factors like an accident or alcohol-involvement. Jail and a permanent criminal record are obviously very serious penalties.
Further, a reckless driving ticket carries a total of 5 points. This is a lot of points to get for a single ticket. Remember, you can be suspended for just 11 points. Additionally, if a conviction results in your license having 6 or more points, you will also have to pay the Driver Assessment Fee. This fee is $300 for 6 points and $75 for every point above six.
Finally, a reckless driving conviction will likely result in your auto insurance rates being increased. This is considered a “big” ticket and provides a basis to allow your insurance company to raise your rates (even if you have an otherwise clean record).
The good news is that reckless driving tickets in New York City are not heard at the Traffic Violations Bureau. Unlike the TVB, a favorable outcome via a plea bargain can often be negotiated to avoid a criminal record, lessen points and keep your auto insurance from being raised. Dismissal of these tickets is also possible when there is a defect in the original ticket filed with the court.
Our firm has fought 100s of reckless driving tickets in New York and has a favorably resolved the vast majority of them.
So what do you do if you get one?
The first thing is to be polite to the officer. Rudeness has bought many a motorist extra tickets. Indeed, technically the officer could “run you through” the system which would mean, at least, 24 hours locked up while you wait for your case to be called.
The next thing you do is to note the court date toward the bottom of the ticket. This is the date on which you must appear to enter a plea. On that date, you always should plead not guilty. It is at this time that you or your traffic lawyer can inspect the original ticket for defects. In New York City, the back of the ticket must set forth what was reckless about your driving conduct. A mere conclusion is insufficient. If you are unsure, I would still ask the court for a dismissal on the grounds that it is defective. You have nothing to lose.
If you cannot get it dismissed, then the court will often propose a plea bargain which involves no points and just a fine. If you are offered such a deal, take it! This will avoid a trial as well as a possible jail sentence, a criminal record and an insurance hike. Usually, the fine is between $150 and $300 with such a plea bargain.
Below is a list of courts in New York City which handle reckless driving tickets (also known as pink tickets).
Manhattan (New York) Criminal Court
New York, NY 10013
New York Midtown Community Court
314 West 54th Street
New York, NY 10019
Queens Criminal Court
120-55 Queens Blvd
Kew Gardens, NY 11375
Bronx Criminal Court
215 East 161st Street
Bronx, NY 10451
Kings (Brooklyn) Criminal Court
120 Schermerhorn Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Kings (Brooklyn) Community Court
88-94 Visitation Place
Red Hook, NY 11201
Richmond (Staten Island) Criminal Court
26 Central Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10301
I have a reckless driving ticket since 2012 that I haven’t taken care of yet. It is not in the 5 boroughs but in Orange County, NY. Will I get penalized for taking care of this charge now ? Is there a possible way that I can take care of this in NYC as I live here now.
An Orange County matter must be resolved in there. You can retain a NY traffic ticket lawyer to try and appear for you, however.
Due to your failure to timely answer, it sounds like a warrant and/or suspension has been issued. You should, therefore, address this matter ASAP.
I was in AZ coming back from Grand Canyon and an officer gave me a reckless drivin ticket and locked me up. Friend post bail and I was released that evening and had a trial over the phone. I want to get my friend bail released as well as just see no jail time and pay the tix price. What would you suggest as a way to go about this? Because of the location many lawyers do the trial over the phone because most ppl charged in that area are tourist
Because I am not licensed to practice law in AZ and am not familiar with its practices, I cannot answer this question. I recommend that you contact an AZ traffic or criminal lawyer.
I get a reckless driving ticket court coming soon don’t know what to expect but the officer told me to plead not guilty. 1st ticket I ever gotten.
You did the right thing by pleading not guilty. Given that this is a misdemeanor charge that also carries 5 points, I recommend that you consult with an experienced NY traffic ticket lawyer.
i have got reckless driving ticket yesterday night in the county of Manhattan and my date of appearance is 9/29/15.Should I hire a lawyer.i was driving Tlc car.i do not have much resources if I request you to pl take my case how much will you charge you may answer on my email.thank you
Feel free to call us for a free consultation. We’re happy to discuss the case, your prospects and how we can help.
i received a complaint for reckless driving. I have a Florida license & resident.
Officer was nice but he told me it didn’t carry any points & didn’t mention that i needed to appear in NY for court or it’s a criminal complaint. Was he lying or assuming judge wouldn’t give me any?
Reckless driving is a 5-point NY ticket and is a misdemeanor. Therefore, you definitely want to fight this ticket by pleading not guilty. This is the only way to hopefully avoid getting a criminal record.
I recently got offered a reckless driving charge plead down from a dwai charge. I was told no points on my liscense but that I would carry a misdemeanor and that my insurance would increase. I was estimated fees of about $1000.00. Does this sound about right to you? And would you advise I take that deal?
No, a reckless driving ticket is a moving violation that carries 5 points. You definitely want to fight this one. Because it is a serious criminal charge (misdemeanor) and can affect your insurance, we recommend that you retain an knowledgeable NY traffic ticket lawyer.
I have an attorney and he was the one that told me that it would not carry any points! I literally just got off of the phone with him. He seemed very sure of this fact. Could this just be the district attorney offering an improved deal?
A reckless driving ticket definitely carry 5 points. Perhaps, he was referring to the plea offer (as opposed to the original charge).
Yes I was originally charged with dwai but my lawyer just told me they are offering me reckless driving with no points or liscense suspension. Is that possible to plead guilty to that and receive no points if that is the offer from the DA?
I see. If you are going to plead guilty to reckless driving as part of a plea bargain, then you will get 5 points on your license.
Thanks for this article. If the court offers no points and just a fine, does that mean the reckless driving charge is stricken from your driving record?
I would write it differently. If the judge offers a reduction to a non-reckless charge and you plead guilty to that reduced charge, then you will not have a reckless driving conviction on your record.
I see. I was recently in this situation and the judge offered me the bargain you mentioned, no points and no misdemeanor. He didn’t mention whether my charge was being reduced. I accepted without asking, since the misdemeanor and points were my main concern. But I’m unclear whether legally I’ve pled guilty to reckless driving.
From what you described, it does NOT sound like you pled guilty to reckless driving. You can request a certificate of a disposition from the court to double check.
In a recent discussion with the CO of my local precinct, I’ve advised him that I consider the lights on the new police cars to be dangerous and that I intend to bring charges of reckless driving if I observe vehicles with these lights in operation at night when the vehicle is not responding to what is believed to be an actual emergency.
I find many times lights are left flashing at night for safety purposes if an officer has made a traffic stop. Please be mindful the officers in these patrol cars are the same ones who keep you and yours safe while putting their own safety on the line , so you may wish to revisit your complaint. Furthermore, bear in mind when they are rolling on a call they, more often than not, do not really know the exact nature of the call. Be happy you see officers responding period, as there are many cities whose complaint is not enough manpower to respond at all. Stay safe and God Bless our policemen wherever they are!
Thanks for this thoughtful reminder. Being a police officer is a very dangerous job and we often forget to acknowledge what an important role they play.