There Is a Subtle Yet Distinct Difference Between Reckless and Careless Driving

March 13, 2016

Over 2.3 million people are injured in motor vehicle crashes every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Most of those injuries are caused by negligence and violations of the law. Speeding is a violation of traffic law. We all know this, but what kind of violation is it? That depends on how many miles per hour over the speed limit the driver was traveling. There are various ways in which drivers exhibit negligence that causes serious bodily harm or death to another, yet the punishments are not the same, even in what you may consider a similar case. For example, causing injury to another while talking on a cell phone is not necessarily considered reckless driving. In fact, it would likely be considered careless driving. On the other hand, South Carolina law (Section 56-5-2920) specifically calls for those who cause injury to another while texting and driving to be cited with reckless driving. But what is the difference, punishment-wise, between reckless and careless driving? 12 points can get a license suspended in the state of South Carolina, and a reckless driving citation carries a punishment of six points, as well as a $445 fine and a hefty rise in insurance premiums. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor, while careless driving is not. Careless driving is just two points on a driver’s license, meaning that a driver would have to commit six counts of careless driving to have their driver’s license suspended.


Defining Reckless Driving and Careless Driving in South Carolina


South Carolina law describes reckless driving as: “Any person who drives any vehicle in such a manner as to indicate either a wilful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, or while distracted or in an inattentive manner which shall include texting while driving when bodily injury occurs is guilty of reckless driving.” Wanton means the driver did something without checks or unruly, and willful means deliberate. This means that the driver had to be incredibly negligent in their actions. Examples of reckless driving include driving drunk, doing donuts in the road, racing, and excessive speed (the exact amount of excessive speed varies). Careless driving includes failure to yield, speeding, improper lane changes, distracted driving, and other offenses.


How Does a Reckless Driving Versus a Careless Driving Citation Against the Negligent Party Affect My Claim?


If you have been injured by another in a car accident and it was their fault, luckily insurance companies will likely pay out the same amount for careless as they would for reckless. It can still be incredibly frustrating knowing that a driver that was driving that failed to yield and pulled out into the road in front of you will not likely be charged with reckless driving, but on the civil side, you are at least just as likely to be able to collect the same amount of damages as you would in the scenario that they were driving while drunk. If you have been injured by a careless or reckless driver, contact an experienced Columbia, South Carolina car accident attorney today at the law offices of The Connell Law Firm, LLC today. You may be able to receive compensation for the injuries and damage to your personal property that they caused.