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Idaho Reckless, Inattentive, and Racing Crimes

Ryan M. Black, Attorney at Law


Driving Crimes in Idaho!

In Idaho, police can charge even the simplest traffic offenses as misdemeanor crimes if given the correct circumstances. It is important to understand what you can do to avoid these higher offenses so that you do not need help from an attorney. If you do find yourself charged with one of the more common offenses included below, a good defense attorney can take the case to trial or help negotiate a settlement that often involves a simple speeding ticket.


Reckless Driving

You can be charged with reckless driving if an officer believes that you were driving a vehicle “carelessly and heedlessly or without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property, or who passes when there is a line in his lane indicating a sight distance restriction.” I.C. § 49-1401(1). Essentially, if you are driving too fast and/or the officer thinks you are doing something dangerous, you can be charged with reckless driving.

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. A second conviction within five years carries a maximum of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Also, a first conviction carries a mandatory driver's license suspension of 30 days; a second conviction within two years carries a mandatory license suspension of 90 days; and a third conviction within three years carries a mandatory license suspension of one year. If you have more questions, check out our Reckless Driving page for more information.

Negligent Driving (Boise City Only)

You can be charged with negligent driving if an officer believes you were racing, accelerating excessively, or in less than full control of your vehicle. Also, if you hit a stationary object with your vehicle, an officer may charge you with negligent driving. Boise City Code § 6-8-5.

Negligent Driving is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Inattentive Driving

You can be charged with inattentive driving if an officer believes that you have been “inattentive, careless or imprudent, in light of the circumstances then existing, rather than heedless or wanton, or in those cases where the danger to persons or property by the motor vehicle operator's conduct is slight.” I.C. § 49-1401(3). Essentially, if the officer believes that you are not paying attention while driving, you can be charged.

Inattentive driving is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail, a $300 fine, and three points on your driving record.


You can be charged with racing if an officer believes you were involved in “any race, speed competition or contest, drag race or acceleration contest, test of physical endurance, [or] exhibition of speed or acceleration” I.C. § 49-1424(1). This means you can be charged with racing simply for taking off too quickly from a red light.

Racing is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, and four points on your driving record.

What to Do If You Are Pulled Over

If you have been pulled over and are suspected of a driving offense, the first thing to remember is that police officers are – generally speaking – trying to keep the public safe. Be respectful of the job they do and treat them well. Not only is this the right thing to do, it can go a long way to helping you out down the line. Being a jerk will only persuade an officer to take actions that will negatively impact you.

Officers are trained to get you to admit to as much incriminating information as they can. Even a simple stop for speeding can evolve into a misdemeanor criminal investigation depending on the information you give the officer. The rule of thumb is to NEVER admit recklessness or negligence. Never admit to lack of attention or aggressive driving patterns. While an officer may try to get you to admit to a lack of attention, the moment that you confirm that fact, they are able to charge you with a crime rather than a simple infraction.

What to do if you are charged

Contact an attorney. Find an attorney that understands your options and will work with you to negotiate a plea that minimizes the level of punishment or that is willing to take your case to trial. Often, driving misdemeanors like those outlined above can be reduced to simple infractions with an attorney that knows the local rules, judges, and prosecutors. If reduction is not an option, often these charges have great defenses for trial. These are some of the things to think about when hiring an attorney:

  • Are they local? There are some major benefits to hiring a local attorney. Good local attorneys will have a good rapport with officers and judges, which is a major benefit to you.
  • Hire an attorney who has handled multiple driving cases. Lawyers often specialize in specific types of law. An attorney may be excellent at handling divorce cases but have little knowledge when it comes to criminal cases like reckless or negligent driving. This is your future we are talking about here. Make sure you trust it with someone who has done this before.
  • Meet the attorney in person for a free consultation. It is important that you get along with and trust your attorney, and a free, in-person consultation is one of the best ways to assess this.

While working on this step, you can always take the following driving classes to mitigate your charges. If you are 25 years old or younger, you qualify for the free Alive at 25 course offered throughout Idaho. If you are older, you can always take the level one or two National Traffic Safety Institute course.

Infraction License Suspension

The Idaho Department of Transportation can suspend the driver's license of any individual that accumulates a certain number of driving “points” on their record. 8 to 11 points in 12 months leads to a warning letter from the Department. 12 to 17 points in 12 months leads to a 30-day driver's license suspension. 18 to 23 points in 24 months leads to a 90-day driver's license suspension. 24 or more points in 36 months leads to a 180-day suspension. If you find that your license may be getting close to suspension because of driving infractions, you can take the National Traffic Safety Institute 3-Point Reduction Class to create some breathing room. The license point values are shown below:

49-603 Starting parked vehicle – unsafe movement of vehicle 2
49-604 Limitation on backing 1
49-605 Driving Upon Sidewalk 3
49-606 Coasting Prohibited 2
49-612 Obstruction to Driver's View or Driving Mechanism 3
49-614 Stopping when Traffic Obstructed 1
49-615 Drivers to exercise due care 3
49-616 Driving through safety zone prohibited 2
49-619 Slow Moving Vehicles 2
49-623(4) Authorized Emergency or Police Vehicles 3
49-624 Duty upon approaching stationary police vehicle or emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights 3
49-625 Operation of vehicles on approach of authorized emergency police vehicle 3
49-626 Following Fire Apparatus Prohibited 3
49-630 Drive on right side of roadway – exceptions 3
49-631 Passing vehicles proceeding in opposite direction 2
49-632 Overtaking a vehicle on left 3
49-633 When passing on right is permitted 2
49-634 Limitations on overtaking on the left 3
49-635 Further limitation on driving on left of center of highway 3
49-636 One-way highways 1
49-637 Driving on highways laned for traffic 1
49-638 Following too closely 3
49-639 Turning Out of Slow Moving Vehicles 2
49-640 Vehicle approaching or entering unmarked or uncontrolled intersection 3
49-641 Vehicle turning left 3
49-642 Vehicle entering highway 3
49-643 Highway Construction and Maintenance 3
49-644 Required position and method of turning 3
49-645 Limitation on turning around 3
49-648 Obedience to signal indicating approach of train 4
49-649 Compliance with stopping requirements at all railroad grade crossings 4
49-650 Moving heavy equipment at railroad grade crossings 3
49-651 Emerging from alley, driveway, or building 3
49-654 Basic rule and maximum speed limits/ CMV failure to slow down at railroad grade crossing 3-4
49-655 Minimum speed regulations 3
49-656 Special speed limitations 3-4
49-657 Work zone speed limit 3
49-658 School zone speed limit 3
49-663 Restricted Use of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles on Highway 2
49-672 Crossing Fire Hose 1
49-673(3)(4) Safety Restraint Use Exempt
49-702 Pedestrian's right-of-way in crosswalk 3
49-706 Blind and/or Hearing Impaired Pedestrian has Right-of-Way 3
49-707 Pedestrians' Right-of-Way on Sidewalks 3
49-801 Obedience to and required traffic control devices 3
49-802 Traffic control signal legend 3
49-804 Flashing signals 3
49-806 Lane Use Control Signals 3
49-807(2) Stop signs 3
49-807(3) Failure to yield – signed intersections 3
49-808 Turning movement and required signals 3
49-1302 Duty to give information in accident involving damage to a vehicle 4
49-1303 Duty upon striking unattended vehicle 4
49-1304 Duty upon striking fixtures upon or adjacent to a highway 4
49-1401(3) Inattentive driving 3
49-1401A Texting While Driving Exempt
46-1419 Obedience to traffic direction 2
49-1421(1) Driving on divided highways 1
49-1421(2) Restricted access 1
49-1422 Overtaking and passing school bus 4
49-1424 Racing on public highways 4

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