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Can You Be Charged with Speeding and Reckless Driving in Georgia?

The short answer is "yes but."  You can be charged, but you probably cannot be convicted of bother.

There seems to be a prevailing myth among law enforcement officers that if a driver is going 30 mph or more over the speed limit that the driver should be charged with both the speeding offense and reckless driving offense.  For a driver, this can be a "whammy" as far as Georgia license points are concerned.  Depending on the cited speed, those two charges together can put 8 or 10 points on the driver's license.  Fifteen points within a two year period will cause a Georgia license suspension.  So, those two charges can get someone two-thirds of the way toward a license suspension.

If you are charged with both speeding and reckless driving, you definitely need to consult with a knowledgeable attorney before doing anything with the charges.

While it is possible to be charged with speeding and reckless driving for the same driving conduct, there are some tight restrictions on when that is appropriate.  It is definitely not as simple as the 30 mph "rule."  In fact, if the only described condition is going 30 mph or more over the speed limit, then that is not enough to get a conviction for reckless driving.  The officer can make the charge, but one charge or the other will not stand up to a strong legal defense.

Speeding can be a basis for a reckless driving conviction if the state presents evidence of the excessive rate of speed and the driving conditions existing at the time that made such driving reckless to the potential harm to persons and property in the area.  So if a driver is driving 90 mph and weaving in and out of traffic, that can support a reckless driving conviction. 

But in obtaining a reckless driving conviction based on excessive speed, the State will have used up the evidence available to prove speeding.  Stated another way, if the State uses evidence that the Defendant committed one crime in establishing another crime, the former crime is included in the latter as a matter of fact under OCGA 16-1-6.  That Code section defines an included crime as one established by proof of the same or less than all the facts of the other crime.

In any case, for the State to prevail on the reckless driving charge, there must be evidence not only of a manner of driving (i.e. speeding) but also that such driving was in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property.  Where an officer does not put forth the evidence of the actual conditions effecting public safety, the reckless driving charge is not proven.

Black Law Offices represents drivers charged with traffic, reckless driving, DUI and other offenses as well as persons charged with misdemeanor and felony charges in northeast Georgia.

Sean A. Black

Sean A. Black is a 1992 graduate of the Emory University School of Law. He has been in private practice in Toccoa, Georgia since June 1, 1992.

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