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Reckless Driving

Motor vehicles help us navigate our daily lives. Unfortunately, driving isn’t always a pleasant experience. It can be infuriating to be on the road especially around hesitant drivers, traffic jams and construction zones. Sometimes this frustration felt while driving could lead to a reckless charge.

The state expects you as a licensed motorist to follow traffic rules. Careless actions such as erratic lane changes or speeding could land you with a traffic offense. Reckless driving may seem harmless, but the charges are not. A conviction could result in a misdemeanor on your record.

If you or someone you know has been charged with driving recklessly, it’s imperative you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Attorney for Reckless Driving in West Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa has stringent laws to deter people from driving recklessly. A reckless driving charge could lead to jail time and expensive fines. Additionally, your premiums could skyrocket if you’re convicted. If you or someone you know has been charged with reckless driving, it’s crucial you gain legal representation.

Contact McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. to speak to a skilled attorney. We have years of experienced with defending people from traffic offenses, including reckless driving. Visit our office today to discuss your charges. Call (515) 279-9700 now to set up a free consultation today. McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. accepts clients throughout the Polk County area including Ankeny, West Des Moines, Alleman and Pleasant Hill.

Overview of Reckless Driving in Iowa


Signs You’re Driving Recklessly

It’s important you make quick and reasonable decisions when driving a motor vehicle. In some cases, it’s helpful to be somewhat aggressive to avoid an oncoming accident. However, you might be taking it too far as an assertive driver. A 2009 study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) identified behaviors associated with reckless driving, which include: 

  • Improper or fanatic lane changes;
  • Following too closely or tailgating;
  • Passing where it’s prohibited;
  • Driving on the sidewalk or any other unauthorized terrain;
  • Not obeying traffic signs, officers or control devices;
  • Suddenly changing speeds without reason;
  • Speeding way past the legal limit;
  • Swerving suddenly;
  • Failure to signal to other vehicles;
  • Making an improper turn; or
  • Racing against other vehicles

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Iowa Laws on Reckless Driving

Iowa has established reckless driving laws to punish irresponsible drivers. Iowa Code § 321.227 states you’re guilty of the crime if you drove a vehicle in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of people or property. 

Reckless driving in Iowa is a simple misdemeanor, which is punishable by:

  • Up to 30 days in jail; and
  • A fine of between $65 and z$625

The court also has the discretion to suspend your license if they deem fit. It’s important to know your license will be automatically revoked if this is your second conviction reckless driving conviction.


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Careless Driving Charges in Iowa

A crime often associated with reckless driving is careless driving. Iowa Code § 321.227A states you’re carelessly driving if you do any of the following: 

  • Cause unnecessary tire squealing, skidding or sliding upon acceleration or braking;
  • Have the wheel or any wheels unnecessarily lose contact with the ground;
  • Make the vehicle unnecessarily turn or sway abruptly; or
  • Simulate a temporary race

Careless driving may result in a simple misdemeanor with a fine of up to $65.


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Iowa Drag Racing Laws

It’s prohibited in Iowa to race against another vehicle. If you were racing, you could be charged with drag racing in addition to reckless driving. You could be charged with drag racing if you have done any of the following: 

  • Engaged in a vehicle speed contest or exhibition of speed on a street or highway; or
  • Aided or abetted in any vehicle speed contest or exhibition on a street or highway

Aiding and abetting is reserved for passengers. Passengers will not immediately considered to have aided and abetted the offense. The court will decide if the passenger was aiding and abetting by analyzing the evidence presented at trial. The terms “speed contest” or “exhibition of speed” means you and others were speeding past the limit to see who was faster. 

Drag racing is a simple misdemeanor that can result in:

  • Up to 30 days in jail; and
  • A fine of between $65 and z$625

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 Will My License Be Suspended for a Reckless Driving Conviction?

Unfortunately, you may have to deal with both the criminal and administrative penalties of driving recklessly. Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) may suspend your license for recklessly driving. In some cases, your license could even be revoked.

 Iowa DOT reserves the right to suspend your license if you: 

  • Were considered to be habitually reckless or negligent by the court;
  • Have three or more moving traffic convictions within a 12-month period;
  • Contributed to three or more accidents in a 12-month period; or
  • Were convicted for excessive speeding, unlawful passing of a school bus, a traffic violation which led to a fatality, or a violation testified by a police officer. 

You may be wondering what a moving violation is. A moving violation is when you break any traffic law with the except for: 

  • Expired licenses or permits;
  • Faulty equipment except brakes;
  • Failure to appear in court;
  • Parking regulations;
  • Disturbing the peace with a vehicle;
  • Weights and measures;
  • Seat belt violations;
  • Child restraint violations; and
  • Failure to display flag on moped 

The court decides if you’re habitually reckless or negligent by your driving record. If you have a combination of three or more moving violations or accidents, then you’ll be considered habitually negligent or reckless. You could also be considered habitually reckless or negligent if you contributed to three or more accidents in a year period. 

It’s important to know Iowa DOT automatically revokes your license after a second reckless driving conviction. This means you will have to get your license reinstated or contest the revocation with a hearing at DOT if you want to retain your driving privileges. 


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Additional Resources

Protecting Your Driving Privileges – Visit the official website of the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) to learn more about their driver point system. Access the document to learn how your license could be suspended, cancelled or revoked based on your driving record. 

Reckless Driving Laws in Iowa – Visit the official website of the Iowa Code for Motor Vehicles and Transportation to learn more about reckless driving. Access the statute to learn the charge specifics, and other charges such as eluding law enforcement, open containers and other traffic violations.


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Lawyer for Reckless Driving in Polk County, Iowa

If you or someone you know has been charged with reckless driving, it’s imperative you contact a skilled attorney. Without proper legal representation you could have a criminal record and a suspended license. Do the next best thing and call the attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. for legal counsel. 

The attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. excel at criminal defense with a strong focus in traffic crimes. We have represented numerous people with reckless driving charges. Our attorneys will battle for your rights using our extensive resources and expertise. Call (515) 279-9700 now to schedule a case consultation today.

McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. accepts clients throughout the greater Dallas County and Polk County area including Linden, Saylorville, Polk City, West Des Moines, Perry and De Soto.