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Crimes | Types of Criminal Charges » Driving Attorney | Minnesota Driving Offenses » Reckless Driving | Careless Driving

Reckless Driving | Careless Driving

Thinking about a Reckless Driving Attorney?  Here’s what you need to know about a Minnesota Reckless or Careless Driving charge.

FAQ: What is the difference between a Careless Driving and Reckless Driving charge?

A reckless driving attorney frequently hears this question. First, what do Careless Driving and Reckless Driving share in common?

Both are subdivisions of the same statuteMinnesota Statutes Section 169.13 (2018):

“Subdivision 1. Reckless driving. (a) A person who drives a motor vehicle while aware of and consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the driving may result in harm to another or another’s property is guilty of reckless driving. The risk must … [constitute] a significant deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe... .
(b) A person shall not race any vehicle upon any street or highway… which constitutes reckless driving…
(c) A person who violates paragraph (a) or (b) is guilty of a misdemeanor. A person who violates paragraph (a) or (b) and causes great bodily harm or death to another is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. …

Subdivision 2.  Careless driving. Any person who operates or halts any vehicle upon any street or highway carelessly or heedlessly in disregard of the rights of others, or in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any property or any person … is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

Minnesota Statutes Section 169.13

Reckless Driving Attorney Thomas Gallagher explains the differences:  So, which is worse?

They are similar in many ways.  But prosecutors typically charge both as misdemeanors

And though rare, prosecutors can charge Reckless Driving as a gross misdemeanor

Reckless Driving requires risk of harm to another.  But Careless Driving requires only danger of harm to any person, including the driver.

Reckless Driving and Careless Driving in Minnesota explained
Reckless Driving and Careless Driving in Minnesota explained

And that, along with the intent language, makes Reckless Driving worse.  So, even when both are misdemeanors, Reckless Driving seems a bit worse.

But a good Reckless Driving Attorney can help you avoid conviction on either charge.

Speed racing: keep it on the race track

Subdivision 3 of the Statute contains exceptions, including “any raceway, racing facility, or other public event sanctioned.”

And the statute specifically defines street racing as reckless driving.  But it specifically sanctions track racing as not a crime.

Makes sense. Because if you’ve ever done a track day event, you’ve seen the many safety precautions. And racing clubs have their own rules that they enforce. There are no speed limits on a track. So no tickets; and no need for a speeding lawyer, there.

Track racing = ok
Track racing = no limits

Racing is a fun sport and poses no risk to the public, on an off-road track.  So you won’t need a Reckless Driving Attorney for your track day adventures.

Emergency defense

Another exception in Subdivision 3 covers emergency vehicles; and emergencies in any vehicle “when avoiding imminent danger.” (And this is a specific application of the general, necessity defense.)

So, “emergency operation of any vehicle when avoiding imminent danger” is a defense to both reckless and careless driving.  But you’ll need a Reckless Driving Attorney to effectively make that defense.

Other defenses

The defenses available in any traffic or criminal case are also available for a Reckless or Careless Driving charge.  And these include:

In addition, your reckless driving attorney can raise other specific defenses:

  • Not driving, operating or stopping a vehicle
  • No evidence of conscious disregard or substantial and unjustifiable risk
  • Lack of significant deviation from the standard of conduct for a reasonable person in the situation

Reckless Driving Attorney

We analyze both the apparent driving conduct, situation, as well as the intent of the driver at the time.

Jail is rare.  But keeping it off your driver’s license record can save you money.  Moreover, you can save more than the cost of hiring a defense attorney, within a few years.

Gallagher Criminal Defense logo 200

Reckless Driving Attorney Thomas Gallagher helps clients avoid convictions in these cases, and keep their driving records clean.

He’s been doing it for decades.  And he can help you too.

Question? Contact Minnesota Reckless Driving Attorney Thomas Gallagher at (612) 333-1500.

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