The Difference Between Speeding and Reckless Driving

It’s pretty clear to most people what Missouri laws mean by speeding. If you’re speeding, you’re going faster than the legal speed limit. In reckless driving, speed may or may not be a factor. But it goes beyond that simple definition. What is it? Here are some facts to help you understand the difference between speeding and reckless driving.

Key Points:

  • In Missouri reckless driving is called “careless and imprudent”
  • It is up to the discretion of the police officer
  • It's a Class B misdemeanor and a Class A misdemeanor if  you have an accident
  • 4 points off your record

How Does Missouri Define Reckless Driving?

In Missouri reckless driving laws, there actually is not a law that uses the term “reckless driving.” Instead, Missouri driving Missouri law uses the term “careless and imprudent.” It’s a vague law, but it’s based on the idea that every driver should drive in a prudent manner.

Prudent is a synonym of wise. Imprudent driving, on the other hand, is careless driving or dangerous driving. Missouri uses the word prudent to define driving that meets the following criteria.

  • ​Drivers must operate their vehicles in a careful and prudent manner.
  • ​Drivers must drive at a safe speed.
  • ​Drivers must drive with the intent not to endanger people or property.

So, who decides when you are driving imprudently, not just speeding but reckless driving? It’s up to the law enforcement officer to make that call. It’s strictly a judgement call, since there is no specific action that always breaks this law.

Aimee Gromowsky

Kansas City Traffic Lawyer

"You always want to keep speeding tickets off your record."

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​What Happens If Your Get Caught?

Getting caught for careless and imprudent driving can have serious consequences. If you plead guilty or are convicted, you’ll take a 4-point hit to your driving record. Is reckless driving a misdemeanor? Yes, careless and imprudent driving alone is a Class B misdemeanor. If you have an accident due to careless driving, that’s a Class A misdemeanor.

Then, what is reckless driving ticket cost beyond the damage to your license? A reckless driving penalty can be up to a 6-month jail term and fines up to $500 if you don’t have an accident or up to a 1-year jail term and fines up to $1,000 if you do have an accident. 

In addition, your insurance rates will likely go up. If you get a traffic ticket for careless and imprudent driving and you have a CDL, you could lose your commercial driver’s license and possibly your job.

Why Contact a Lawyer?

The rules for careless and imprudent driving are vaguer than those for an ordinary speeding ticket. What’s more, the penalties can vary widely from case to case. So, it makes sense to talk to a traffic lawyer in Kansas City, Missouri who can explain your situation and help you decide what to do next. In reality, speeding and reckless driving are both offensives you want to keep off your record. Call me if you have any questions.

Aimee Gromowsky

Aimee Gromowsky is formerly an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Jackson County and currently a private practice lawyer. Ms. Gromowsky handles thousands of cases in Kansas City, Missouri area courts and was honored with a “Best in Bar” award in 2007 and 2008 from the Kansas City Business Journal. As a Kansas City traffic lawyer, Aimee is determined to represent you in your case by providing exceptional legal counsel and service.

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