What is reckless driving?

Reckless driving is intentional disregard for traffic laws and intentional disregard for the safety of others.

By Brad Nakase, Attorney

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What is reckless driving?

Reckless driving is aggressive driving that willfully disregard the safety of other persons. For example, driving over 80 mph is reckless driving because exceeds the speed limit and poses a danger to others.

Every state defines the crime of reckless driving differently, and if convicted, an individual may face fines worth thousands of dollars as well as jail time. For this reason, it is important to know what to do and what rights you possess if arrested and charged with reckless driving. This knowledge and preparedness will have a significant influence on the result of your case.

Reckless driving is also known as “driving to endanger” in certain states. At its core, this driving offense makes it illegal for someone to drive with a conscious disregard that puts other people in harm’s way. Jurisdictions will often have several degrees or kinds of reckless driving offenses. If convicted, the potential sentences increase in seriousness according to factors such as passing school buses, going over a specific speed limit, street racing, and other forms of dangerous activity.

There is no one list of behaviors that determines whether a motorist’s actions were reckless. Rather, the specific circumstances of each situation permits the law enforcement officer or a jury to make a decision. Individuals who are charged with reckless driving after being involved in a crash should contact our criminal defense attorney in San Diego. Others are pulled over by the police and given a citation.

Is reckless driving the same thing as a DUI?

DUI, or DWI, if an abbreviation that stands for drunk driving. This is a separate criminal charge that carries harsher punishments. States keep these charges separate to highlight the terrible consequences that drugs and alcohol have on public safety. Reckless driving is a more generalized offense that includes several behaviors, compared to a DUI which is based on a measurable intoxication level proven by scientific methods like breathalyzers and blood tests. Sometimes, an individual charged with a DUI may agree to a plea deal with the prosecution that reduces their charge to a reckless driving offense, which has a lighter penalty.

What is the penalty for reckless driving?

In most states, reckless driving is classified as a misdemeanor. A conviction typically results in fines worth several hundred or even thousands of dollars. It can also lead to jail time, whether a few days or a few months. In incidents with aggravating elements, such as emergency vehicle endangerment, extreme speeding, and school zone infractions, the charge may become a felony.

Further, the conviction will be put on the individual’s driving record. If the person lives in a state that has a traffic violations points system, this impacts the price of car insurance and may contribute toward a license suspension. Some states may also require driver improvements or safety programs.

What rights does a defendant have in a reckless driving case?

All criminal defendants have the right to a lawyer, even if they are unable to pay for one on their own. This is the case for individuals charged with a federal or state felony. However, when charged with a misdemeanor, the right to a lawyer is not necessarily guaranteed. According to the Supreme Court, the right to a lawyer extends to certain misdemeanor charges that come with jail time, though many defendants are ignorant of this.

However, this does not mean that if an individual is arrested or questioned concerning a misdemeanor, they are prevented from getting the help of a lawyer. If you find yourself arrested or detained by law enforcement, any interrogation should cease once you ask for a lawyer. This gives you the chance to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer to take a look at your case.

Why is a lawyer important in a reckless driving case?

A lot of defendants charged with reckless driving misdemeanors go to court without seeking the help of a lawyer first. It could be that they feel pressured by the prosecutor or police to accept a plea deal to stay out of jail. However, they may learn that their sentence was only suspended, and they may still go to jail in the future. Others may have heard that if they accept the services of a public defender, they may have to pay them back in the form of fines and fees.

Whatever the situation, the help of experienced defense lawyers can make a big impact on the outcome of the case. For instance, when offered a plea deal, a defendant may leap at the chance to get out of jail. However, he or she may not be conscious of the legitimate defenses lost by accepting it. Unfortunately, the majority of people are not aware of this when they waive their right to a lawyer. For this reason, if you are arrested and charged with reckless driving, take a moment to think and breathe before hiring a defense attorney to represent you. This action can make a big difference in the result of your case.

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