Reckless Driving in Illinois

The Illinois Reckless Driving Law and Penalties


The Illinois Reckless Driving Law – 625 ILCS 5/11-503

Illinois reckless driving law comes under the Illinois Vehicle Code, which is in the statute as 625 ILCS 5/11-503.

According to the statue, here’s what constitutes reckless driving in Illinois:

  1. When a person is “willfully or wantonly disregarding the safety of other persons or property while driving their vehicle.”
  2. When a person knowingly uses an incline, like a railroad crossing, to cause their vehicle to become airborne. That’s not something that we see a lot of but it technically is in the law.

Examples of behaviors that may constitute reckless driving:

  • Traveling at a high rate of speed
  • Swerving lanes erratically without signaling
  • Anything that could constitute negligent driving

The Illinois Reckless Driving Penalties

Is Reckless Driving a Felony in Illinois?

No. The reckless driving charge in Illinois, if convicted, is a Class A misdemeanor. It can can be punished by:

  • Up-to 364 days in the county jail and/or;
  • $2,500 in fines and fees, not counting court costs

That’s the fullest extent of the penalties a reckless driving charge in Illinois can carry, in terms of jail and fines.

Reckless driving convictions also impose one (1) point on your license. For driver’s under the age of 21, that one point can immediately put your license at risk of suspension – just like two (2) points would for an adult driver.

“Supervision” for a reckless driving charge

There is the opportunity to get supervision for a reckless driving charge which prevents the charge from being a conviction on your record.

The consequence of a supervision on a reckless driving charge is that, like a DUI, you no longer become supervision eligible for another reckless driving or first DUI charge, in your lifetime.

I’m going to repeat that because it is critical:

If you receive a supervision on a reckless driving charge, you will no longer be afforded that opportunity while you are a driver in the State of Illinois. You will no longer be supervision eligible on either reckless driving charges or driving under the influence charges.

Long Term Consequences

Long term, reckless driving convictions do not suspend your license, unless you already have two strikes against you. Illinois is a three strikes within 12 months state, meaning if you have three moving violations within a 12-month period, your license will be suspended.

If your reckless driving conviction is your third strike, you will lose your license but the language that the legislation has written for the reckless driving charge and the practice of the Secretary of State, is that reckless driving is not an automatic suspension charge like some other charges may be.

That is one thing that I know my clients personally worry about is that their license is going to be instantly suspended. That is not the case with reckless driving in the State of Illinois.

If a reckless driving conviction occurs in Illinois you’ll have points assessed on your license more often than not, and those are typically reported to insurance companies, which can increase insurance premiums over the long run.

I’ve seen data and research done on the long term effects of traffic violations on your record, showing they can increase your yearly spending on vehicle insurance, upwards of hundreds into thousands of dollars over the course of a year, depending on your driving record and depending on your insurance company.

A conviction of the nature of reckless driving, it being a Class A criminal charge, means the likelihood of your insurance rates increasing is very high.

How Harsh will The Judge Be?

As with anything, it is completely case by case. The facts of why the ticket was issued, the age of the individual, the record of the individual, these all play into to the ultimate ruling by the judge.

My personal experience with reckless driving has been in Cook County (Chicago) and the metropolitan area surrounding it. It is treated as seriously as aggravated speeding charges, which are also Class A and B misdemeanors and a DUI charge or a driving while suspended charge. Meaning that if it’s your first time, a judge and a state’s attorney may be willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and give you supervision if you’re eligible, possibly with fines, driver’s school, or community service attached.

If you are a repeat offender, judges in Cook County in the Chicago area will have no hesitation in putting that Class A conviction on your record and assessing you heftier fines.

This article was produced in a collaborative effort between a former Illinois public defender and the legal blog writing staff at Juris Digital.