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What Is Reckless Driving and What Are the Penalties for It in Illinois?If you are a driver in the United States, it is very likely that you will be pulled over by the police at some point during your driving years. Police cannot pull you over just for fun – they have to have a reason to do so. Most of the time, the reason they pull you over is because of a minor traffic infraction that results in a fine. Depending on why they pulled you over, the ticket can result in more severe consequences, such as criminal charges. Illinois has various traffic violations that can result in criminal charges, and one of those charges is reckless driving.

Reckless Driving in Illinois 

Reckless driving is a charge that encompasses many behaviors. According to Illinois’ criminal statutes, reckless driving can be charged when a person:

  • Drives or operates a vehicle with “willful or wanton” disregard for the safety of other drivers or the property of others; or
  • Knowingly and intentionally uses an incline in the road to cause the vehicle to become airborne.

The tricky thing about reckless driving charges is that there are no specific behaviors spelled out in the laws that are automatically charged as reckless driving other than causing a vehicle to become airborne. Because of this, it is up to the arresting officer and the judge to determine what types of behaviors constitute reckless driving. Common examples of reckless driving include:

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Understanding Illinois Reckless Driving ChargesMost American drivers will be pulled over by police at least once in their lifetime. Most of the time, the reason you are pulled over is because of a small moving violation, like speeding or not fully stopping at a stop sign. These stops usually end with the officer issuing you a ticket that carries a fine that you must pay within a specific time period. In other situations, the officer may arrest you because they feel that you have done something too serious to warrant just a fine. Offenses of this nature can be driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, street racing or what is called reckless driving.

What is Reckless Driving?

The Illinois Vehicle Code states that reckless driving occurs when a person drives his or her vehicle with “willful and wanton disregard” for the safety of other drivers or other people’s property. It also states that reckless driving can occur if a person drives a vehicle and uses an incline such as a railroad crossing, hill or bridge approach to cause the vehicle to become airborne. 

There is no comprehensive list of the type of behaviors that are automatically assumed to be reckless driving. This is left up to the discretion of the arresting police officer, the judge assigned to your case and the jury. Examples of reckless driving can include:

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