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Published on 1/18/2024, 3:23:00 PM

Reckless vs Negligent Driving in Maryland DUI Cases

Navigating the legal intricacies of DUI cases in Maryland can be daunting, especially when it involves understanding the nuances between reckless and negligent driving. This comprehensive guide offers clarity on these two charges, their differences, and how they impact DUI cases in Maryland.

Understanding Reckless Driving - TA 21 901.1(A)

Maryland's Transportation Code 21-901.1(a) defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle with "wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property." This implies a deliberate and serious lack of concern for safety, potentially increasing the severity of a DUI charge.

Legal Implications of Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is a significant charge in Maryland, carrying penalties that may include fines up to $1,000 and six points on a person's license. When combined with a DUI offense, it can lead to more severe consequences and necessitates a robust defense strategy.

Negligent Driving Explained - TA 21 901.1(b)

Negligent driving, as per 21-901.1(b), occurs when someone drives in a "careless or imprudent manner" endangering life, person, or property. Unlike reckless driving, it does not require a wanton disregard for safety, making it a less severe offense than reckless driving.
Negligent driving carries a maximum penalty of fines and carries a point upon conviction. If the negligent driving contributed to an accident, three points may be assesed to a person's license.

Consequences of Negligent Driving in DUI Cases

Negligent driving in DUI cases, while less severe than reckless driving, still carries substantial legal repercussions. It can affect sentencing, plea negotiations, and overall case strategy.

Reckless vs. Negligent Driving: Key Differences

  1. Intent and Severity: Reckless driving involves a more conscious disregard for safety, while negligent driving is more about carelessness.
  2. Legal Outcomes: The penalties for reckless driving are typically harsher than for negligent driving.

I'm chaged with DUI, reckless driving, and negligent driving... why?

Many DUI cases involve a LONG string of traffic citations, most of which tend to confuse Defendants. It is very common to see DUI charges paired with both reckless and negligent driving citaitons, even when there was no specific reckless or negligent driving. This is because these offenses are high point and high fine offenses that provide additional non incarcerable plea options as well as providing benefits to a plea that might otherwise seem less attractive.

Let's take two examples and try to understand this rationale:

1. Situation 1 - Mark

Mark is stopped for having a tail light out, and upon speaking with him, Officers believe he was driving under the influence. Mark performs field sobriety testing poorly and is arrested and charged with:

  • Driving under the influence
  • Driving while impaired
  • Reckless Driving
  • Negligent Driving

Here, Mark didn't do anything specific to be charged with reckless and negligent; however, Officers may have charged those offenses to provide additional plea options and incentives.

Situtaiton 2. - Bill

Bill drives 102 miles per hour before crashing into a guardrail. Bill is charged with the same citations as Mark.

  • Driving under the influence
  • Driving while impaired
  • Reckless Driving
  • Negligent Driving

Here, it's possible that Bill commited the offense of reckless driving, in addition to the DUI he is charged with. In this case, Officers may have charged those offenses because they believe that Bill drove recklessly in addition to driving while under the influence.

FAQs About Reckless and Negligent Driving in DUI Cases

What are the penalties for reckless driving in Maryland?

Penalties can include fines up to $1,000, six points on your driving record, and increased insurance rates.

How does negligent driving affect a DUI case?

It can complicate the case and potentially lead to increased penalties or stricter sentencing. It entirely depends on the facts of the negligent driving, if there are any.

Can I challenge a reckless or negligent driving charge in a DUI case?

Yes, with the right legal strategy and evidence, it is possible to challenge these charges.

Should I consult an attorney if charged with reckless or negligent driving in a DUI case?

Absolutely. Navigating these charges requires expert legal guidance to protect your rights and build a strong defense.

How Our Firm Can Help

At Frizwoods, our experienced DUI attorneys understand the complexities of Maryland's DUI laws, including reckless and negligent driving charges. We are committed to providing aggressive representation to safeguard your rights and achieve the best possible outcome. Read real-life testimonials from our satisfied clients here.

For more information on how we can assist you in your DUI case, contact us today


Understanding the differences between reckless and negligent driving is crucial in Maryland DUI cases. Knowing the legal implications can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Should you find yourself facing such charges, it's imperative to seek proficient legal counsel to navigate these complexities effectively.

Contact us today to discuss your case and explore your legal options with our skilled DUI defense team.