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Negligent Driving vs. Reckless Driving: What Is the Difference?

Negligent driving and reckless driving may seem similar. Yet, there are notable differences between them. A Maryland car accident lawyer can discuss negligent driving vs. reckless driving with you and help you figure out if you have a valid claim for compensation in an auto crash lawsuit. 

At The Snyder Law Group, LLC, we understand car accident liability and can teach you all about it. Our Maryland car accident attorney will review your auto accident case and help you submit a claim against anyone responsible for your crash. To learn more, please reach out to us. 

What Constitutes Negligent Driving Under Maryland Law?

A motorist is guilty of negligent driving if they operate a vehicle in a “careless or imprudent manner,” according to Maryland Transportation Code Section 21-901.1. In this instance, a motorist puts other people or property in danger. They do so in spite of the potential consequences of their actions. 

Comparatively, a motorist is guilty of reckless driving if they operate a vehicle with a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of other people or property. Like a negligent driver, a reckless motorist can cause an accident. In the worst-case scenario, a negligent or reckless motorist can crash their vehicle into another motorist or pedestrian and cause catastrophic injuries or fatalities.   

There is no excuse for negligent or reckless driving in Maryland or anywhere else. If you get hurt in an auto accident caused by someone who was driving negligently or recklessly, the team at The Snyder Law Group, LLC can help you out. For more information, please get in touch with us. 


How Does Reckless Driving Differ from Negligence?

For someone to be found guilty of recklessly operating a vehicle, the police must be able to prove that this individual was driving in wanton or willful disregard for the safety of other people and property. Reckless driving is not classified as a felony in Maryland. If an individual is found guilty of reckless driving, they could have their license suspended, receive a fine of up to $1,000, and see their auto insurance rates go up. 

In terms of negligent driving vs. reckless driving, the former is considered to be a lesser charge than the latter. To be found guilty of driving negligently, the police must be able to prove that a motorist was operating their vehicle in a way that could put other people or property in danger. In instances where someone is found guilty of negligent driving, they could be fined up to $500 or have a point put on their license.

Of course, driving while reckless or negligent can result in a serious accident. Following a car crash involving a negligent driver, it is in your best interests to call 911, get medical care for any injuries you incur, and capture evidence from the crash scene. Along with these things, consult with a car accident lawyer in Maryland, and they can help you get compensation from the driver responsible for your collision. 

What Are the Penalties for Each Traffic Violation? 

Reckless and negligent driving comes in many forms. The penalties associated with acts of driving recklessly or negligently vary. Common reckless and negligent driving traffic violations — and the penalties associated with them — include:


If someone is traveling even 1 mph over the speed limit, they can get a speeding charge. Depending on how much a driver travels over the speed limit, they can receive fines that range from $80 to $530 and lose up to five points on their license. In addition, if a driver loses five or more points on a license within a two-year span, they will be required to enroll in Maryland’s Driver Improvement Program (five to seven points), have their license suspended (eight to 11 points), or have their license revoked (12 or more points). 

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

An intoxicated driver can lose focus behind the wheel and cause an accident that injures or kills other motorists or pedestrians. A motorist can receive a fine of up to $1,000, a one-year jail sentence, 12 points added to their driving record, and have their license revoked for up to one year for their first violation of Maryland’s impaired driving laws. With each following offense, the penalties increase. 

Distracted Driving

It is illegal to use a phone while driving in Maryland, as distracted drivers are prone to tailgating, traveling at an excessive speed, and other issues that can lead to accidents. If a distracted driver causes a failure to yield or hit or hit and run crash or any other type of collision, they can receive a fine ranging from $70 to $160. It is also important to note that Jake’s Law applies in Maryland,  and if a motorist violates this law, they are subject to a $5,000 fine and one year in prison. 

How to Deal with a Negligent or Reckless Driving Accident

In the days following your auto crash, meet with a car accident attorney. Then, you can discuss your collision with your lawyer, and they will explain how negligence applies to your auto accident. Your attorney will be able to file a lawsuit on your behalf against the driver who caused your accident to happen. 

You may be forced to deal with auto insurance claims after your car crash, too. If the car insurance company for the at-fault motorist offers a settlement, do not accept it. Instead, consult with a lawyer, and they will explain when to settle and when to sue following an auto accident.   

The Snyder Law Group, LLC offers legal help to those who suffered losses in car accidents in Maryland. We are available to discuss your case and submit your claim for compensation. To find out more or schedule a free case evaluation, please contact us online or call us at 410-755-5829.

Call 410-THE-FIRM. Don't just sue them. SNYDER THEM

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