Reckless driving is a serious crime that typically requires offenders to pay hefty fines and attend driver-retraining courses. In some states, these fines can be excessive: Alaska's state statutes provide for first-offense reckless driving penalties of up to $1,000 while Florida may levy even higher fines for subsequent offenses. Depending upon your past driving record and criminal history, your reckless driving conviction may also result in the revocation of your driving privileges and require you to spend some time in prison.
Like habitual drunk drivers, serial reckless-driving offenders are increasingly viewed as menaces to public safety. Many jurisdictions now treat reckless driving as a serious criminal offense. Most states have strengthened their laws against the practice and now provide for mandatory prison sentences for third-time offenders.
In some places, maneuvers that may not seem "reckless" may be interpreted as reckless driving. In Virginia, you can be booked for reckless driving after being clocked at 20 miles per hour faster than the posted speed limit or at 80 miles per hour on any highway. In other words, you can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor for traveling 81 miles per hour on a smooth 65 mile-per-hour Virginia highway.
You can be charged with reckless driving for many other reasons as well. If you're arrested on suspicion of impaired driving and refuse to submit to a breath test, you'll almost certainly be charged with reckless driving and may face the maximum penalties for your offense.
Likewise, difficult-to-prove drunk driving charges are often "commuted" or changed to reckless driving charges, which typically require a lighter burden of proof. Even if your DUI case seems fairly straightforward, a good lawyer may be able to introduce enough doubt into your case to encourage the presiding judge to drop the more serious charge in favor of the lesser offense.
Regardless of the genesis of your reckless driving charge, it will show up on your background check provided that it was charged as a misdemeanor. This is the case in most states: The few jurisdictions that continue to treat reckless driving as a minor traffic infraction are moving away from this practice. Going forward, you should assume that your jurisdiction will treat reckless driving as a crime.
Unfortunately, your criminal reckless driving charge will become a permanent fixture on your criminal record. If your record is expunged, you may be able to "hide" the conviction.