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If you have a driver’s license, you know that there are many traffic laws that drivers must obey. Many are aware of what constitutes speeding or a DUI, but do you understand what constitutes reckless driving?

Do you know what the penalties are? Or why you might need an attorney if you get charged with this offense? Since reckless driving charges can impact your driving privileges and potentially even your freedom, these are important concepts to understand.

What Exactly Is Reckless Driving in Minnesota?

Under Minnesota statute section 169.13, reckless driving is defined as driving in a way that poses a substantial, significant, and unjustifiable risk to the welfare and safety of others. For driving to qualify as reckless, the vehicle operator must be aware of this risk and consciously disregard it.

The risk may be to another person’s well-being or property. In other words, the driver must exhibit a deliberate disregard for other people’s safety to be charged with this crime. Racing is one example of reckless driving that the statute addresses explicitly.


The penalties for reckless driving are fairly straightforward. Standard reckless driving in MN is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. However, be aware that if your driving record has prior infractions, you could also lose your driving privileges. The amount of time you stand to lose your license depends on whether you had prior traffic vioaltions.

Furthermore, if your recklessness resulted in serious bodily injury to someone else, your charge will likely be upgraded. Standard misdemeanors can be upgraded to gross misdemeanors, which carry sentences of up to one year in jail and up to a $3,000 fine. 

Do I Need a Lawyer?

As far as traffic offenses go, the need for a lawyer is perhaps never so great as when an officer charges you with reckless driving in MN. That is because the laws prohibiting such behavior are quite broad and can be misconstrued by law enforcement. Imperfect officers can see something that appears to be reckless when, in fact, it is not.

Only experienced criminal defense attorneys can properly assess the facts of your case and determine whether reckless driving was the appropriate charge. It is possible that the circumstances more accurately reflect the less severe charge of careless driving or speeding. 

We Can Help

Traffic offenses may not seem serious at first. But criminal traffic infractions can result in jail time, steep fines, and a tarnished driving record. When so much is at stake, you need an experienced attorney by your side.

The Criminal Defense Attorney & Workers Compensation Law Offices of Arechigo & Stokka has decades of experience in defending people just like you from criminal charges that threaten to upend their lives. First, we closely examine the evidence in your case. Then we seek to lessen the severity of the charges or defend against them completely.

One thing is certain: We will make sure that your rights are protected every step of the way. So call us today at 651-222-6603, or contact us online to set up your free initial consultation.

Author Photo John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense in St. Paul, MN. John received his J.D., from Hamline University School of Law and also carries a Bachelor of Arts from, The University of Minnesota. John was named Attorney of the Year for 2019 by Minnesota Lawyer. Additionally, John was also named as a 2019 Rising Star and was selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2021. He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime.

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