2020 Georgia Code
Title 40 - Motor Vehicles and Traffic
Chapter 6 - Uniform Rules of the Road
Article 15 - Serious Traffic Offenses
§ 40-6-390. Reckless Driving

Universal Citation: GA Code § 40-6-390 (2020)
  1. Any person who drives any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property commits the offense of reckless driving.
  2. Every person convicted of reckless driving shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000.00 or imprisonment not to exceed 12 months, or by both such fine and imprisonment, provided that no provision of this Code section shall be construed so as to deprive the court imposing the sentence of the power given by law to stay or suspend the execution of such sentence or to place the defendant on probation.

(Code 1933, § 68A-901, enacted by Ga. L. 1974, p. 633, § 1; Ga. L. 1989, p. 350, § 2; Ga. L. 1990, p. 2048, § 5.)

Law reviews.

- For article, "Local Government Law," see 53 Mercer L. Rev. 389 (2001). For annual survey of criminal law, see 56 Mercer L. Rev. 153 (2004).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

ANALYSIS

  • General Consideration
  • Procedure
  • Application
  • Jury Issues and Instruction

General Consideration

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former Ga. L. 1939, p. 295, are included in the annotations for this Code section.

Section enforceable.

- Use of the words "willful or wanton" in former Ga. L. 1939, p. 295 (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390) was not so vague and indefinite as to be incapable of enforcement. Lancaster v. State, 83 Ga. App. 746, 64 S.E.2d 902 (1951) (decided under former Ga. L. 1939, p. 295).

Section informs person of legal violation.

- Ga. L. 1974, p. 633, § 1 (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390(a)) is sufficiently definite to inform a person of common intelligence as to when the person is violating the law. Wilson v. State, 245 Ga. 49, 262 S.E.2d 810 (1980).

Reckless driving charges not affected by unconstitutionality of O.C.G.A.

§ 40-6-391(a)(6). - Fact that O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(a)(6) was held unconstitutional as a denial of equal protection did not apply to require dismissal of charges against the defendant that the defendant committed reckless driving in violation of subsection (a) of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390 and first degree vehicular homicide in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-393(a) by reckless driving; the charges merely included the fact that marijuana was found in the defendant's blood because the marijuana was relevant to a determination that the defendant drove "in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property." Ayers v. State, 272 Ga. 733, 534 S.E.2d 76 (2000).

Reckless driving does not involve specific, intended victims.

- Trial court did not err in quashing that part of the indictment that charged the defendant with "reckless driving" as to three passengers in another automobile after the driver of that other automobile cut the defendant's vehicle off in traffic; "reckless driving" did not involve specific, intended victims, but only required the state to show that the defendant drove the defendant's car in a manner exhibiting reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property, and, thus, the three counts of the indictment identifying the three passengers as "victims" of the defendant's reckless driving could not stand. State v. Burrell, 263 Ga. App. 207, 587 S.E.2d 298 (2003).

Reckless driving and reckless conduct do not merge.

- Trial court did not err by failing to merge the crimes of reckless driving, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390, and reckless conduct, O.C.G.A. § 16-5-60, for punishment because the two offenses did not merge for sentencing when §§ 40-6-390 and16-5-60 each had a provision that required proof of a fact that the other did not, and to establish a violation of § 40-6-390, the state only had to prove that the defendant drove the car in a manner exhibiting reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property; reckless conduct requires proof of harm or an actual threat of harm to the bodily safety of another person and does not require that the crime be committed while driving a motor vehicle, but reckless driving does not require that there be an injured or threatened party and instead merely requires that the state prove a general disregard for the safety of persons or property while driving a motor vehicle. Howard v. State, 301 Ga. App. 230, 687 S.E.2d 257 (2009).

Cruelty to children count did not merge with reckless driving count.

- Trial court properly did not merge the appellant's convictions for cruelty to children in the second degree and serious injury by vehicle by the act of reckless driving with respect to the same victim for the purpose of sentencing because each offense required proof of a different wrongful act as the cruelty to children conviction required proof of facts not required by the serious injury by vehicle conviction and vice versa. McNeely v. State, 296 Ga. 422, 768 S.E.2d 751 (2015).

Speeding merged into reckless driving.

- Defendant's conviction and sentence for speeding was vacated because the offense of speeding should have been merged into the offense of reckless driving; the defendant should have been convicted and sentenced only for reckless driving. Travis v. State, 314 Ga. App. 280, 724 S.E.2d 15 (2012).

Prosecution of homicide caused solely through violation of Ga. L. 1974, p. 633, § 1 (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390) must be under the vehicular homicide provision, Ga. L. 1974, p. 633, § 1 (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390), and not as for murder or involuntary manslaughter. State v. Foster, 141 Ga. App. 258, 233 S.E.2d 215, aff'd, 239 Ga. 302, 236 S.E.2d 644 (1977).

Predication of murder charge on section.

- Murder charge cannot be predicated upon homicide resulting from "reckless disregard for . . . safety of persons," as that phrase is used in Ga. L. 1974, p. 633, § 1 (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390). Foster v. State, 239 Ga. 302, 236 S.E.2d 644 (1977).

Cited in Torley v. State, 141 Ga. App. 366, 233 S.E.2d 476 (1977); Brock v. State, 146 Ga. App. 78, 245 S.E.2d 442 (1978); State v. Black, 149 Ga. App. 389, 254 S.E.2d 506 (1979); Head v. State, 246 Ga. 360, 271 S.E.2d 452 (1980); McSears v. State, 247 Ga. 48, 273 S.E.2d 847 (1981); Hardison v. Haslam, 250 Ga. 59, 295 S.E.2d 830 (1982); Williams v. State, 171 Ga. App. 546, 320 S.E.2d 389 (1984); Anderson v. State, 254 Ga. 470, 330 S.E.2d 592 (1985); Ricks v. State, 184 Ga. App. 428, 361 S.E.2d 829 (1987); Davis v. State, 272 Ga. 818, 537 S.E.2d 327 (2000); English v. State, 261 Ga. App. 157, 582 S.E.2d 136 (2003); Crossley v. State, 261 Ga. App. 250, 582 S.E.2d 204 (2003); State v. Lowe, 263 Ga. App. 1, 587 S.E.2d 169 (2003); In the Interest of W.N.J., 268 Ga. App. 637, 602 S.E.2d 173 (2004); Hannah v. State, 280 Ga. App. 230, 633 S.E.2d 800 (2006); Jaheni v. State, 285 Ga. App. 266, 645 S.E.2d 735 (2007); Leachman v. State, 286 Ga. App. 708, 649 S.E.2d 886 (2007); Green v. State, 287 Ga. App. 248, 651 S.E.2d 174 (2007); State v. Outen, 296 Ga. 40, 764 S.E.2d 848 (2014); Holman v. State, 329 Ga. App. 393, 765 S.E.2d 614 (2014); State v. Hasson, 334 Ga. App. 1, 778 S.E.2d 15 (2015).

Procedure

Language of indictment.

- When the indictment charging the defendant with homicide by vehicle tracked the language of Ga. L. 1974, p. 633, § 1 (see now O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390), accusing the defendant of "driving his motor vehicle in a reckless disregard for the safety of the deceased," but also contained the additional phrase "by failing to grant the right of way to oncoming traffic," a common-sense reading of the entire indictment made it clear that the defendant was being so charged, and the defendant was properly charged. Ivie v. State, 151 Ga. App. 496, 260 S.E.2d 543 (1979).

Appellate court found that because the count of the indictment charging the defendant with reckless driving included the "crucial language" that the defendant drove with reckless disregard for the safety of persons and property, count two, charging the defendant with vehicular homicide based on that predicate act, contained the elements of the offense and apprised the defendant of the charges that the defendant had to be prepared to answer at trial; thus, count two was legally sufficient and the trial court correctly denied the defendant's motion in arrest of judgment. Howard v. State, 252 Ga. App. 487, 555 S.E.2d 884 (2001).

Trial court did not err by finding that the defendant waived the defendant's right to challenge the indictment charging the defendant with reckless driving because the defendant failed to timely file a written special demurrer. Lauderback v. State, 320 Ga. App. 649, 740 S.E.2d 377 (2013).

Indictment charging the defendant with serious injury by vehicle based on both reckless driving and driving under the influence was defective and, therefore, counsel was ineffective for failing to file a general demurrer because the indictment failed to include the language that the defendant drove with reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property and it neither recited the language that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it was less safe for the defendant to drive or that the defendant's alcohol concentration was 0.08 or more nor alleged the facts necessary to establish violation of the driving under the influence statute. Heath v. State, 349 Ga. App. 84, 825 S.E.2d 474 (2019), aff'd, 843 S.E.2d 801, No. S19G0967, 2020 Ga. LEXIS 362 (Ga. 2020).

Indictment charging the defendant with first degree vehicular homicide based on reckless driving was defective and, therefore, counsel was ineffective for failing to file a general demurrer because it failed to include the language that the defendant drove with reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property, an essential element of the predicate offense. Heath v. State, 349 Ga. App. 84, 825 S.E.2d 474 (2019), aff'd, 843 S.E.2d 801, No. S19G0967, 2020 Ga. LEXIS 362 (Ga. 2020).

Indictment for reckless driving sufficiently alleged first degree vehicular homicide.

- By alleging that a defendant violated the reckless driving statute, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390, an indictment incorporated the elements of that offense that the defendant drove the vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property and was sufficient to assert an indictment for vehicular homicide in the first degree. State v. Biddle, 303 Ga. App. 384, 693 S.E.2d 539 (2010).

Motion for acquittal properly denied.

- Trial court properly denied defendant's motion for a directed verdict of acquittal when: (1) the defendant missed the stop sign; (2) the defendant proceeded across four lanes of traffic; (3) the defendant plowed into the victims' car, causing one victim to die; (4) the defendant was swaying, slurring defendant's speech, and had an odor of alcohol about the defendant's body; and (5) there were no skid marks in the intersection. Sanders v. State, 258 Ga. App. 16, 572 S.E.2d 712 (2002).

No merger with serious injury by vehicle charge.

- Trial court did not err by failing to merge a reckless-driving charge into a serious-injury-by-vehicle charge because the two crimes were entirely separate and distinct, requiring a showing of different elements and based on the defendant's drunk driving of a four-wheeler ATV with a 10-year-old passenger, who was brain-damaged when the defendant clipped a tractor and flipped the ATV; the state used the evidence of the clipping of the tractor scoop, which caused the rollover and injury to the child, as the elements of the serious-injury-by-vehicle offense, which was separate from and sequential to the reckless-driving offense, which was premised on the defendant's intoxication. Croft v. State, 278 Ga. App. 107, 628 S.E.2d 144 (2006).

Application

Location of vehicle not material element.

- Exact location is not a material element of the offense of reckless driving and a fatal variance did not exist as to the charge even though the state failed to prove that the defendant drove recklessly in a certain block of road as alleged in the indictment. Chavous v. State, 205 Ga. App. 455, 422 S.E.2d 327 (1992).

Adequate grounds for arrest.

- Defendant's claim, in defense of a charge of aggravated assault against police officers, that the defendant was resisting an unlawful arrest, was meritless. As the officers observed the defendant driving in a reckless manner, the officers were authorized to stop and arrest the defendant for reckless driving. Mackey v. State, 296 Ga. App. 675, 675 S.E.2d 567 (2009).

Sufficient evidence to withstand motion for directed verdict.

- Evidence was sufficient to deny a defendant's motion for a directed verdict in a prosecution for reckless vehicular homicide, reckless driving, DUI, running a red light, and failure to exercise due care when, after smoking crack and arguing with the defendant's former spouse, the defendant had struck a car from behind, struck a pedestrian, and collided with a burgundy car, killing the burgundy car's two occupants; the defendant was found slumped over on the front driver's side of the pickup truck the defendant was driving. Hill v. State, 285 Ga. App. 503, 646 S.E.2d 718 (2007).

Sufficient evidence to find defendant guilty.

- When there was eyewitness testimony presented at the trial that the defendant was driving in excess of the speed limit immediately after the collision, evidence of the defendant's flight from the scene of the collision, and also the defendant's own statement that the defendant was driving "too fast" (which, though not necessarily inculpatory, was properly admitted for the jury to determine whether or not it constituted an admission), there was sufficient evidence from which the jury could find the defendant guilty of reckless driving. Deshazier v. State, 155 Ga. App. 526, 271 S.E.2d 664 (1980).

When the state's evidence showed that the defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol (.16 grams percent) at a high rate of speed without any lights, recklessly passed two other vehicles immediately prior to the collision with the victim, and was driving in the wrong lane when the defendant crashed into the victim's car, the evidence was sufficient to enable any rational trier of fact to find that a causal connection existed between the defendant's violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390 or O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391 and the victim's death and thus to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree. McNabb v. State, 180 Ga. App. 723, 350 S.E.2d 314 (1986).

When there was evidence that the defendant was driving at an excessive speed in disregard of a police roadblock, the evidence was sufficient to find the defendant guilty. Duncan v. State, 202 Ga. App. 456, 415 S.E.2d 7 (1992).

When the evidence showed that the defendant lost control of the defendant's vehicle while the defendant was speeding and attempting to pass in a no-passing zone and that the defendant had ingested both alcohol and cocaine, the defendant was properly convicted of reckless driving. Gentry v. State, 236 Ga. App. 820, 513 S.E.2d 528 (1999).

Evidence was sufficient to prove that the defendant was guilty of reckless driving and attempting to elude an officer when the defendant led the officer on a high-speed chase driving on the wrong side of the road and wilfully failed to bring the defendant's car to a stop after the officer activated the patrol car's blue lights and siren. Brackins v. State, 249 Ga. App. 788, 549 S.E.2d 775 (2001).

Evidence that the defendant drove the defendant's tractor-trailer at a high rate of speed through a construction zone with signs and indications that slow-moving traffic was in the area was sufficient to support the defendant's conviction for homicide by vehicle in the first degree as the evidence showed that the collision the defendant caused which killed the victim was not an unfortunate accident for which the defendant would not be liable, but instead was the result of defendant's reckless driving in disregard for the safety of other people. Wilkes v. State, 254 Ga. App. 447, 562 S.E.2d 519 (2002).

Sufficient evidence supported the verdict that the defendant committed reckless driving in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390(a) after the defendant, while driving an 18-wheeler truck, made an illegal U-turn near a tunnel, blocking all four lanes of oncoming traffic and placing other motorists in jeopardy, particularly those exiting the tunnel, as the motorist had limited visibility. Pennington v. State, 254 Ga. App. 837, 564 S.E.2d 219 (2002).

Evidence was sufficient to support a reckless driving conviction after a juvenile was driving 112 miles per hour, 42 miles per hour over the speed limit, and was "passing cars like a rocket, and flying down the highway;" for procedural and fair trial reasons, however, the conviction was reversed. In the Interest of J.C., 257 Ga. App. 657, 572 S.E.2d 21 (2002).

Evidence was sufficient for a rational trier of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was driving the defendant's vehicle in a manner exhibiting a reckless disregard for the safety of others under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390(a) as the defendant was distraught, had consumed alcohol, and was driving outside the defendant's lane of travel when the defendant struck from behind the victim on a bicycle, which had visible reflectors. Lesh v. State, 259 Ga. App. 325, 577 S.E.2d 4 (2003).

Evidence that the defendant, during a high-speed motor vehicle chase, drove the defendant's vehicle on the wrong side of the road, ran a stop sign, and struck a curb was sufficient to support the defendant's conviction for reckless driving. Arnold v. State, 262 Ga. App. 61, 584 S.E.2d 662 (2003).

Evidence was sufficient to convict the defendant for reckless driving after the police officer testified that the defendant was driving 24 mph above the speed limit on a city street near pedestrians; in addition, the defendant showed signs of impairment due to alcohol consumption. This evidence was sufficient to show that the defendant acted with a reckless disregard for public safety as required for a reckless driving conviction. Fraser v. State, 263 Ga. App. 764, 589 S.E.2d 329 (2003).

When evidence that the defendant's blood tested positive for marijuana use within 12 hours of a collision was properly introduced and when testimony by an accident reconstruction expert and a witness indicated that the defendant was traveling recklessly on the wrong side of the road when the defendant struck the victim's vehicle, the defendant was properly found guilty of first-degree vehicular homicide and reckless driving. Upshaw v. State, 264 Ga. App. 878, 592 S.E.2d 523 (2003).

Evidence was sufficient to convict the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt of reckless driving under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390(a) when the defendant was driving at a speed much faster than the surrounding vehicles, the defendant "punched" the accelerator, the defendant made abrupt lane changes, and the defendant ran a stop sign. Pinch v. State, 265 Ga. App. 1, 593 S.E.2d 1 (2003).

There was sufficient evidence to support the convictions for reckless driving and failure to exercise due care because the evidence demonstrated that the defendant was driving above the speed limit without headlights on a rainy night, was looking down instead of watching the road ahead, and neither sounded the defendant's horn nor applied the defendant's brakes when the defendant saw the victims just before hitting the victims. Winston v. State, 270 Ga. App. 664, 607 S.E.2d 147 (2004).

Evidence supported the defendant's reckless driving conviction as a police officer testified that the defendant crossed the center line while driving. Morrison v. State, 272 Ga. App. 34, 611 S.E.2d 720, aff'd, 280 Ga. 222, 626 S.E.2d 500 (2006).

Evidence was sufficient to support the defendant's convictions for driving under the influence, vehicular homicide, reckless driving, and other charges as the evidence showed that the defendant was caught trying to take merchandise from a store, and then struck and killed the victim as the defendant left the store parking lot and turned on to a highway at a time when the defendant admittedly was under the influence of drugs. Cromartie v. State, 275 Ga. App. 209, 620 S.E.2d 413 (2005).

When the defendant, who was under the influence of methamphetamine, drove on the wrong side of the road and injured a motorist, and another motorist went to the first motorist's assistance and was killed by an oncoming vehicle, it was not improper for a jury to reject a claim that the defendant did not proximately cause the victim's death and return a guilty verdict of vehicular manslaughter, under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-393, because there was evidence that the defendant's negligence substantially contributed to the victim's death. McGrath v. State, 277 Ga. App. 825, 627 S.E.2d 866 (2006), cert. denied, 549 U.S. 1223, 127 S. Ct. 1287 (2007).

Convictions of driving under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it was less safe to drive, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(a)(1), reckless driving, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390, and failure to maintain a lane, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-48, were supported by sufficient evidence since, when an officer stopped to assist the defendant, whose car was parked on the side of a road, the defendant told the officer that the defendant had driven off the road, the officer found tire marks and a fender in the area where the defendant ran off the road and the defendant's vehicle was missing the vehicle's left front fender, the officer noticed a strong odor of alcohol on the defendant's breath, the defendant admitted to drinking for over four hours and could not tell the officer how many drinks had been consumed, and the defendant then failed field sobriety tests. Taylor v. State, 278 Ga. App. 181, 628 S.E.2d 611 (2006).

Reckless driving conviction was not subject to a reversal on appeal as sufficient evidence was presented that the defendant's conduct in almost hitting a police officer who was standing on the side of the highway while traveling at a high rate of speed constituted a reckless disregard for the safety of others. Graves v. State, 280 Ga. App. 420, 634 S.E.2d 186 (2006).

See Newton v. State, 280 Ga. App. 709, 634 S.E.2d 839 (2006).

Evidence supported a defendant's convictions for fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer as an underlying offense for felony murder, theft by taking, vehicular homicide, disregarding a traffic control device, failing to stop at a stop sign, and reckless driving as: (1) the defendant stole a vehicle and was spotted by an officer shortly after the vehicle was reported as stolen; (2) when the officer began to follow the vehicle, the vehicle rapidly accelerated; (3) the officer followed the stolen vehicle for several blocks, with both vehicles traveling between 60-70 miles per hour; (4) the vehicle continued to accelerate after the officer turned on the officer's blue lights and siren; (5) when the stolen vehicle ran a red light, the vehicle struck a car, killing the driver; and (6) the officer and the owner of the stolen vehicle identified the defendant as the person driving the stolen vehicle. Ferguson v. State, 280 Ga. 893, 635 S.E.2d 144 (2006).

Given evidence from an ensuing police officer identifying the defendant as the driver of the vehicle stopped, and because the jury was the judge of the credibility of the witnesses presented at trial, and was authorized to reject the defendant's alibi defense, sufficient evidence was presented to support the defendant's convictions for reckless driving, failure to maintain a lane, driving with defective equipment, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, and obstruction of a police officer. Daniel v. State, 282 Ga. App. 291, 638 S.E.2d 430 (2006).

Sufficient evidence existed to support a defendant's conviction for reckless driving because the evidence established that, while impaired by alcohol, the defendant, in the midst of other traffic, blatantly ran a red light at a busy intersection, exceeded the speed limit by 15 miles per hour, and wove in and out of the lane. Horne v. State, 286 Ga. App. 712, 649 S.E.2d 889 (2007), cert. denied, No. S07C1912, 2007 Ga. LEXIS 744 (Ga. 2007).

Given that sufficient evidence was presented through the testimony of the arresting officer, the property damage victims, and the defendant's admissions, and a 16-year gap between the current DUI offense and a prior DUI arrest did not require exclusion of the latter as a similar transaction as it provided evidence of the defendant's bent of mind to get behind the wheel of a vehicle when it was less safe to do so, the defendant's conviction for the recent offense was upheld on appeal; thus, the trial court did not err in denying the defendant's motion for a directed verdict of acquittal. Evans v. State, 287 Ga. App. 74, 651 S.E.2d 363 (2007).

Evidence authorized the jury to find the defendant guilty of reckless driving, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390(a), beyond a reasonable doubt as the state presented evidence that the defendant was legally intoxicated, and by the defendant's own admission, the defendant was driving a vehicle at a significant rate of speed when the defendant took the defendant's eyes off the roadway and became unable to "handle the speed." After "fishtailing" and skidding, the defendant began spinning and rolling as the defendant exited the roadway. Schlanger v. State, 290 Ga. App. 407, 659 S.E.2d 823 (2008).

Evidence supported the defendant's conviction for reckless driving, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390(a), as the defendant admittedly exceeded the speed limit to some degree, and a witness reported that the defendant's truck "flew" down the street. Hughes v. State, 290 Ga. App. 475, 659 S.E.2d 844 (2008).

Evidence that the defendant eluded police at 75 miles per hour (mph) in a 25 mph zone, ran several stop signs, abandoned the car, and fled on foot was sufficient to convict the defendant of reckless driving in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390(a). Bridges v. State, 293 Ga. App. 783, 668 S.E.2d 293 (2008).

Sufficient evidence supported a defendant's conviction for reckless driving under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390. While the defendant's car was about two car lengths behind an off-duty police officer's car, defendant was laying drags in a drive-thru line, caused the defendant's vehicle to swerve, and was visibly impaired. Griffis v. State, 295 Ga. App. 903, 673 S.E.2d 348 (2009), overruled on other grounds by Zilke v. State, 299 Ga. 232, 787 S.E.2d 745 (2016).

Evidence supported the defendant's conviction for reckless driving because the defendant's drinking was established by evidence that the defendant's blood-alcohol level was between .078 and .115 at the time of the incident, and the defendant drove the vehicle off the roadway, spun out of control, and struck an electrical pole; the defendant drove with cruise control on although it was raining, the evidence indicated that the road was in good condition, despite the defendant's testimony to the contrary, and the manner in which the defendant drove suggested the negative influence of intoxication on the operation of the vehicle. Davis v. State, 301 Ga. App. 484, 687 S.E.2d 854 (2009), cert. dismissed, No. S10C0633, 2010 Ga. LEXIS 339 (Ga. 2010).

Allegations in an indictment of reckless driving and vehicular homicide through reckless driving, in violation of O.C.G.A. §§ 40-6-390(a) and40-6-391(a)(1), were proven by evidence that the defendant drove 15 to 20 miles over the speed limit in the rain, weaving in and out of traffic, with a blood alcohol level of 0.135, ultimately crossing a median into oncoming traffic and killing a victim. Prather v. State, 303 Ga. App. 374, 693 S.E.2d 546 (2010).

Defendant's conviction for reckless driving was appropriate because the evidence was sufficient for the jury to have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was driving the defendant's truck in a manner exhibiting a reckless disregard for the safety of others under O.C.G.A. §§ 40-6-390(a) and40-6-393(a). Although the defendant argued that there was no direct evidence of the manner of driving, and that the circumstantial evidence supported a separate hypothesis that the defendant had lost consciousness because of heat exhaustion and dehydration before the accident, the jury considered the testimony regarding that alternative theory and obviously rejected that theory. Shy v. State, 309 Ga. App. 274, 709 S.E.2d 869 (2011).

Evidence was sufficient to show that the defendant was driving a vehicle in a manner exhibiting a reckless disregard for the safety of others because the state trooper who stopped the defendant testified that the defendant was driving 32 miles per hour above the posted speed limit on a portion of the highway designated as a construction zone; in addition, the defendant was driving the vehicle late at night after having admittedly consumed alcohol. Travis v. State, 314 Ga. App. 280, 724 S.E.2d 15 (2012).

Evidence that the defendant borrowed her sister's car, struck the rear of a slower moving car leading to the deaths of the driver and passenger, the defendant identified herself as her sister, and the defendant signed her sister's name on the Miranda form and on her written statement supported the defendant's convictions for first degree homicide by vehicle, forgery, reckless driving, and giving a false name. Smith v. State, 319 Ga. App. 164, 735 S.E.2d 153 (2012).

Expert testimony that the defendant's speed at the time of braking was between 54 and 66 miles per hour, exceeding the 35 mile per hour speed limit, and testimony from other drivers on the road that the defendant passed the other drivers at an excessive rate of speed was sufficient for the jury to infer beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was driving in a manner exhibiting a reckless disregard for the safety of others. Evans-Glodowski v. State, 335 Ga. App. 484, 781 S.E.2d 591 (2016).

Evidence was sufficient to convict the defendant of serious injury by vehicle and reckless driving because the defendant drifted into the victim's lane and did not change lanes; as the victim attempted to avoid the defendant's van, the defendant crossed back into the defendant's lane and struck the victim's car; the victim was hospitalized for almost two months and suffered severe injuries and received physical and occupational therapy to learn to walk again, but the victim was not able to resume teaching dance based on the victim's wheelchair restrictions; and, although the defendant contended that the evidence showed that the collision was accidental rather than reckless, the jury resolved conflicts in the evidence against the defendant. Pefinis v. State, 344 Ga. App. 428, 810 S.E.2d 329 (2018), cert. denied, 2018 Ga. LEXIS 514 (Ga. 2018).

There was sufficient evidence to establish that the defendant drove a vehicle in a manner exhibiting a reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property as there was evidence from which the jury could conclude that the defendant was driving in excess of the posted speed limit during school dismissal in an area where students were present, and evidence that the defendant drove past a moving school bus with students aboard, causing the bus driver to suddenly brake to avoid hitting the defendant's vehicle. Mule v. State, 355 Ga. App. 239, 843 S.E.2d 894 (2020).

Relevant evidence to defendant's defense of accident.

- In connection with defendant's conviction for reckless driving, causing serious bodily injury due to reckless driving, and other crimes, the trial court abused the court's discretion in granting the state's motion in limine to exclude the defendant's evidence of the design of the intersection where the accident occurred as such evidence was relevant to the defendant's defense of accident. Dunagan v. State, 283 Ga. 501, 661 S.E.2d 525 (2008).

Reckless driving is not lesser included offense of DUI.

- Reckless driving was not a lesser included offense, as a matter of law or fact, of driving under the influence under O.C.G.A. § 16-1-6 as the facts in the indictment of the defendant were insufficient to support a reckless driving charge under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390(a), and as a matter of law, the crimes were equally serious. Shockley v. State, 256 Ga. App. 892, 570 S.E.2d 67 (2002).

Informant's tip provided police with additional basis to observe and stop defendant.

- Trial court did not err in denying the defendant's motion to suppress, despite a claim that an informant used to apprehend the defendant was not previously known to police and had never provided any information until helping in the prosecution of the defendant, because the informant's tip predicted some aspects of the defendant's future behavior and contained information not available to the general public that was corroborated by the observations of officers; moreover, the defendant's reckless driving and flight from a congested parking lot, which caused a short high-speed chase to ensue, and the fact that the police learned that the defendant often carried a gun, provided the officers with an additional basis to stop the defendant and make an arrest. Patton v. State, 287 Ga. App. 18, 650 S.E.2d 733 (2007).

Stop not justified as defendant did not drive recklessly.

- Defendant's motion to suppress was properly granted as the officer lacked reasonable articulable suspicion to justify the stop of the defendant's vehicle because the defendant did not drive in a reckless manner as the video showed that, rather than the defendant almost striking the officer's vehicle, it was the officer who came close to the defendant's vehicle; and the defendant safely passed the officer on the right. State v. Shaw, 353 Ga. App. 102, 836 S.E.2d 208 (2019).

Sentencing defendant on lesser offenses when sentenced on greater.

- Trial court erred in sentencing the defendant on the lesser offenses of reckless driving and driving under the influence while the trial court also sentenced the defendant on the greater offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree, which included the lesser offenses. Had the jury revealed which of the lesser offenses served as the foundation for the homicide verdict a sentence on the remaining lesser offense might have been appropriate, but as such information did not appear in the record the defendant may not be sentenced for either of the lesser included offenses of violation of O.C.G.A. §§ 40-6-390 and40-6-391. McNabb v. State, 180 Ga. App. 723, 350 S.E.2d 314 (1986).

Evidence insufficient to authorize conviction.

- Evidence that the defendant, upon finding the road blocked and seeing two men, not in uniform, come toward the defendant, endeavored to pass around the automobile blocking the road, which necessitated the defendant's driving partly into the ditch, that in so doing the defendant slightly damaged the car of the sheriff, which was blocking the road, when the defendant's automobile scraped against the left front fender and grill of the sheriff's car, and that the defendant did not stop, but continued on, was insufficient to authorize a conviction for leaving the scene of an accident or for reckless driving. Worley v. State, 87 Ga. App. 195, 73 S.E.2d 229 (1952).

Requiring restitution.

- Trial court, after a conviction, is unauthorized to require restitution in the nature of damages to the prosecutor. Lancaster v. State, 83 Ga. App. 746, 64 S.E.2d 902 (1951).

Driving on wrong side of road.

- Evidence showing that the defendant came over a hill around a curve, crossed over into the wrong lane, and stayed there until the defendant's car collided head-on with another was sufficient to support a finding that the defendant's conduct in driving on the wrong side of the road constituted reckless disregard for the safety of others. Shadix v. State, 179 Ga. App. 644, 347 S.E.2d 298 (1986).

Evidence of reckless driving supported vehicular homicide conviction.

- Evidence that the defendant drove after the defendant admittedly consumed methadone, Xanax (alprazolam), and Percocet and that the defendant crossed over the center line of the road in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-40(a) and collided with another vehicle, killing the driver, was sufficient to show the defendant drove while impaired and drove recklessly under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390(a), supporting the defendant's vehicular homicide conviction under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-393(a). Wright v. State, 304 Ga. App. 651, 697 S.E.2d 296 (2010).

Evidence of two prior speeding tickets and a failure to stop ticket was admissible in the defendant's trial for first degree vehicular homicide in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-393 because the defendant contested recklessness, and the tickets were similar in nature to the defendant's reckless conduct and showed the defendant's bent of mind and course of conduct. Taylor v. State, 304 Ga. App. 573, 696 S.E.2d 498 (2010).

Merger into vehicular homicide.

- Defendant's reckless driving, red light, and less safe driving under the influence convictions merged into the defendant's reckless vehicular homicide convictions, which involved two deaths resulting from the defendant's striking a car; however, the failure to exercise due care conviction involving the defendant's striking a pedestrian did not merge into the vehicular homicide conviction as the acts leading to the two charges involved different facts and different victims. Hill v. State, 285 Ga. App. 503, 646 S.E.2d 718 (2007).

Merger not required for sentencing purposes.

- Trial court's failure to merge the defendant's convictions for driving recklessly and committing second degree vehicular homicide, in violation of O.C.G.A. §§ 40-6-390 and40-6-393, respectively, was not error for sentencing purposes as the reckless driving offense was not the underlying offense of the homicide, but rather, improper lane change was, in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-123(a); further, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 16-1-6, there was no factual merger because the crimes were committed sequentially and separately. Cutter v. State, 275 Ga. App. 888, 622 S.E.2d 96 (2005).

Although offenses related to the getaway car were part of the same criminal episode, the essential elements of armed robbery, theft by receiving, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, and reckless driving were completely separate and distinct. As a result, the trial court did not err in failing to merge these offenses. Garibay v. State, 290 Ga. App. 385, 659 S.E.2d 775 (2008).

Jury Issues and Instruction

Jury instruction.

- Injured party was not entitled to the injured party's request to a charge on O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390(a) for reckless driving because the charge was not a complete statement of the law as the charge did not define the specific conduct that constituted reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property or point to specific conduct that was reckless under the facts and circumstances of the case as was required under the statute. Cox v. Allen, 256 Ga. App. 53, 567 S.E.2d 363 (2002).

Requested charge on reckless driving as lesser included offense.

- Defendant was entitled to a new trial on the charge of aggravated assault upon a police officer in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-5-21 because the trial court should have given the defendant's requested charge on reckless driving in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390(a) as a lesser included offense since there was evidence that the defendant did not intend to injure a police officer but that the defendant's decision to drive off suddenly with the officer in close proximity to the defendant's truck was nonetheless an act of criminal negligence, which would have supported a conviction for reckless driving. Young v. State, 294 Ga. App. 227, 669 S.E.2d 407 (2008).

Because Count 4, alleging aggravated assault by placing another in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury with an object which, when used offensively against a person, was likely to and actually did result in serious bodily injury, only required the state to prove that the defendant had the general intent to drive the van, the offense of reckless driving would not show a less culpable mental state than that which was required to establish the commission of the crime of aggravated assault as charged, and the trial court did not err by refusing to give the requested charge of reckless driving as a lesser included offense of aggravated assault as alleged in Count 4. Patterson v. State, 332 Ga. App. 221, 770 S.E.2d 62 (2015), aff'd, 299 Ga. 491, 789 S.E.2d 175 (2016).

Defendant's conviction for aggravated assault with an object under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-21(b)(2) with regard to pinning the victim to a house with a vehicle was affirmed because the defendant was not entitled to jury instructions on the lesser included crimes of reckless conduct and reckless driving as the base crime of simple assault under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-20(a)(2) did not require a specific intent to cause the victim to be apprehensive of receiving a violent injury. Patterson v. State, 299 Ga. 491, 789 S.E.2d 175 (2016).

Contingent jury charges on first- and second-degree vehicular homicide upheld.

- Trial court did not err in charging the jury on vehicular homicide, specifically explaining that if the jury found the defendant guilty of either DUI or reckless driving, and if the jury also found the defendant guilty of vehicular homicide, it followed that the defendant had to be guilty of first-degree, and not second-degree, vehicular homicide. Hill v. State, 285 Ga. App. 503, 646 S.E.2d 718 (2007).

Instruction on justification not authorized.

- Trial court did not commit reversible error in failing to give, sua sponte, a jury charge on justification, because there was no evidence to support such a charge; contrary to the defendant's assertions in the defendant's brief, at no time did the defendant testify that the defendant accelerated to 103 mph because the defendant had no safer option. Jones v. State, 315 Ga. App. 688, 727 S.E.2d 512 (2012).

Trial court did not err by refusing to give the defendant's requested charge on misfortune or accident because the defendant, who was charged with driving under the influence, reckless driving, and failure to maintain lane, was not entitled to a charge that the accident was unavoidable; because the defendant did not admit to committing any act that constituted the offenses with which the defendant was charged, the defendant was not entitled to an instruction on accident. Davis v. State, 301 Ga. App. 484, 687 S.E.2d 854 (2009), cert. dismissed, No. S10C0633, 2010 Ga. LEXIS 339 (Ga. 2010).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

C.J.S.

- 61A C.J.S., Motor Vehicles, §§ 1547 et seq., 1572.

ALR.

- What amounts to reckless driving within statute making reckless driving of automobile a criminal offense, 86 A.L.R. 1273; 53 A.L.R.2d 1337.

What conduct in driving an automobile amounts to wantonness, willfulness, or the like, precluding defense of contributory negligence, 119 A.L.R. 654.

What constitutes "operation" or "negligence in operation" within statute making owner of motor vehicle liable for negligence in its operation, 13 A.L.R.2d 378.

Criminal responsibility of motor vehicle operator for accident arising from physical defect, illness, drowsiness, or falling asleep, 63 A.L.R.2d 983.

Custom or practice of drivers of motor vehicles as affecting question of negligence, 77 A.L.R.2d 1327.

Liability for automobile accident allegedly caused by driver's blackout, sudden unconsciousness, or the like, 93 A.L.R.3d 326.

Motor vehicle operator's liability for accident occurring while driving with vision obscured by smoke or steam, 32 A.L.R.4th 933.

Statute prohibiting reckless driving: definiteness and certainty, 52 A.L.R.4th 1161.

Establishment of negligence within meaning of statute penalizing negligent homicide by operation of motor vehicle - speeding or driving at unsafe speed, 84 A.L.R.6th 427.

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