Rhode Island Reckless Driving Defense Attorney

What is Reckless Driving?


Reckless driving is the criminal act under Rhode Island law of driving a motor vehicle in a manner that either endangers the lives or safety of the public or eludes or flees from a police vehicle. It is not enough for one to operate in a negligent manner, which is less serious than reckless. Actual recklessness is required.

To charge reckless operation, four discrete elements are required:

  1. Operation
  2. Of a motor vehicle
  3. On a public way
  4. In a reckless manner.

What Vehicles Suffice for Reckless Driving?

Operation relates to the mechanical operation of a motor vehicle. Any motor vehicle will suffice for Reckless Driving. This includes:

  • Automobiles
  • Commercial vehicles
  • Construction vehicles and/or equipment
  • Motorcycles
  • Mopeds
  • Any other motorized vehicle capable of being operated by an individual

It is similarly illegal to operate a motorized boat while under the influence of alcohol. The vehicle in question must be operated on a public way including streets, roads, parking lots, highways, trails and other areas to which the public has access.

Two Theories by Which to Charge Reckless Driving

Recklessness describes the manner of operation required for this offense. Under Rhode Island law, there are two theories by which to charge Reckless Driving.

First Theory

One theory involves operating a motor vehicle in manner that endangers the lives or safety of the public. Under this theory, recklessness is where the motorist knew or should have known that the manner of operation posed a serious risk of death or serious bodily injury to others and still chose to operate in such a manner.

Factors for evaluating the presence or absence or recklessness

Factors for evaluating the presence or absence or recklessness under this theory of Reckless Operation include, but are not limited to the motorist’s speed and manner of operation; physical condition and ability to both see and could control his vehicle.

Other considerations include the mechanical and physical condition of the vehicle, the type of roadway where the operation occurred; who else was on the road with the motorist; the time of day; and both weather and road conditions.

One may be charged with Reckless Driving in the absence of either an accident or actual physical injury. None are required to consummate this offense. One may similarly be charged regardless of traffic conditions. For instance, one who operates recklessly on a roadway where there are no other motorists may be charged.

Second Theory

The second theory under Rhode Island law for Reckless Driving simply involves fleeing from or eluding a police vehicle attempting to make a motor vehicle stop. Under this theory, the manner and circumstance of the actual operation are less important. The emphasis is placed on the failure to stop for police, not necessarily how the motorist operated his vehicle.

Reckless Driving Consequences

Being charged with Reckless Driving may have serious consequences to your license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle. This type of charge also has the potential to impact the cost of your automobile insurance and potential to receive continued coverage from your insurance carrier. Finally, it may also impact the status of commercial driver’s licenses.


If you have been charged with reckless driving and need expert legal representation, contact the RI defense attorneys at the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III by email or call today at (401) 351-5100 to schedule a free consultation.


Case Results: Reckless Driving

Reckless Driving: Dismissed

Police observed a motor vehicle engage in a moving violation by traveling in between two lanes of travel. When the officer activated his overhead lights and siren, the motorist accelerated, made a left-hand turn without using a proper turn signal, cut across four travel lanes, went through a red light and raced down the road into a residential neighborhood. Police quickly caught up with the motorist and conducted a traffic stop. The operator, who only spoke Spanish, was on probation for state-related drug charges and did not have a valid driver’s license. As a result, police arrested him for reckless driving. He was charged and arraigned in Rhode Island District Court on this misdemeanor offense. He also faced several traffic violations in the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal and a probation violation in Rhode Island Superior Court. The man retained Rhode Island Criminal Defense Lawyer, John L. Calcagni III, to defend him in this matter. Based on the man’s tenuous immigration status, gainful employment, and other mitigating factors, Attorney Calcagni successfully persuaded multiple prosecutors in multiple courts to dismiss all charges and violations against his client in exchange for performing community service.