RCW 46.61.500 criminalizes the act of reckless driving, which is defined as driving a motor vehicle in a manner that is in a “willful or wanton disregard for safety of persons or property.” A person can be convicted of reckless driving based on a number of driving behaviors including, but not limited to, excessive speeding, radical lane changes, aggressive driving, and racing. Most reckless driving convictions usually result from cases originally charged as DUI.
In Washington State, reckless driving is classified as a gross misdemeanor, meaning that it is punishable by a maximum of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. There is no mandatory jail time; however, reckless driving convictions result in an automatic license suspension for 30 days by the Department of Licensing. To reinstate the license following the suspension period, the license holder must file proof of SR-22 High Risk Insurance with the DOL for a period of three years. Courts can impose up to two years of probation for reckless driving.
While any individual can be severely affected by a reckless driving conviction, holders of Commercial Driver Licenses (CDL) can be significantly impacted by reckless driving convictions. A person with a past conviction for reckless driving will lose their CDL for a period of time, if the CDL holder commits a subsequent “Serious Traffic Violation.” See WAC 308-100-130. This suspension of the CDL is either 60 or 120 days depending on the number of “Serious Traffic Violations.” The suspension periods apply even if the reckless driving conviction results from conduct that occurred while driving a personal vehicle.