The crime of reckless driving in Illinois is more than a mere traffic offense. It is a serious criminal charge that can carry prison time under some circumstances. Illinois law defines reckless driving in 625 ILCS 5/11-503 as the crime a person commits if they (1) drive any vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property; or (2) knowingly drive a vehicle and uses an incline in a roadway, such as a railroad crossing, bridge approach, or hill, to cause the vehicle to become airborne.
Reckless driving is normally a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois, meaning the maximum penalty is a year in the county jail.
In addition, 625 ILCS 5/11-503 provides that speeding 35 mph over the limit is reckless driving in Illinois (also a Class A Misdemeanor).
However, if a child or crossing guard in a school zone is injured, or or there is great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement to anyone, then the crime becomes “Aggravated Reckless Driving” in Illinois and the charge becomes a Class 4 felony that is punishable by up to 3 years in prison. If the injury to a child or school crossing guard results in great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement, then the charge becomes a more serious Class 3 felony, which can result in term of up to 5 years in prison.
In addition to the criminal penalties discussed above, a conviction for reckless driving in Illinois can result in a driver’s license suspension or revocation, as well as a significant increase in a person’s insurance rates. Given how important driving is for most people’s work, school, and social activities, those issues can be just as serious as the potential jail and prison time that a person charged with reckless driving faces. For those reasons, a person charged with reckless driving on the Illinois roadways is wise to retain an attorney at once.