Reckless Driving Tickets and Charges

In most State reckless driving charges is a criminal offense and results in a criminal or reckless driving penalty.  It even carries heavy fines and jail time under certain circumstances.  A driver operating a vehicle in a manner demonstrating a “reckless” or “willful” disregard for the safety of other people, including other drivers and pedestrians and the property of others will be cited for an offense referred to as, “Reckless Driving.” 

Determining Reckless Driving Charge

Reckless driving requires a mental state where the driver displays an intentional or wanton disregard for the safety and property of others. Intent isn't an element of a reckless driving charge per se.  The prosecution will not need to prove that a driver intended to act recklessly, more accurately stated, the prosecution must prove that the reckless driver was aware of the risk and consciously disregarded it.  Reckless driving includes a conscious awareness of the risk of severe harm by the accused in a manner that rises above even a grossly negligent act causing similar harm by way of a dangerous driving situation.

Reckless Driving Charges

Some State traffic laws define “reckless driving” as including the following types of acts:

  • Driving 25 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit
  • Racing with another vehicle
  • Trying to elude a police officer
  • Operating after dark without headlights
  • Inattention due to cell phone use or message texting
  • Passing another vehicle on a two lane highway where visibility of oncoming traffic is limited.

Reckless driving charges are generally a misdemeanor crime. Constitutional rules apply to prosecutions for reckless driving such that a prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and Miranda rules apply concerning police officers and the accused right to be informed of his right to remain silent before being interrogated by police concerning the incident.

Penalties for Reckless Driving

The potential consequences or punishments for a conviction on reckless driving charges can be severe. A reckless driving conviction can result in far worse than a reckless driving fine.

  • A misdemeanor criminal record
  • Deportation
  • Revocation of parole
  • Automatic suspension or revocation of the driver's license
  • A substantial reckless driving fine and/or a jail sentence

The specific circumstances surrounding this kind of intentional crime will heavily define the final charges imposed.  For example if a man gets into his SUV and intentionally drives the wrong way down a busy highway at ninety miles per hours on a rainy day he will likely be charged with the misdemeanor of reckless driving.   However, if he does the same thing and in the process kills twenty innocent people, including eight children traveling to kindergarten in a school bus, and a pregnant mother and her teenage daughter then he is likely going to be charged with a felony, reckless driving resulting in multiple felony murder charges.  The reckless driver caused the deaths with wanton indifference to the risk of substantial harm to others.  He may then be found guilty of murder and do significant jail time as a result of the offense.

Reckless Driving Attorney Help

It is important to contact a criminal law firm offering reckless driving lawyers should police from any State issue reckless driving charges against you or a family member.   The reckless driving penalty can be minor such as a reckless driving fine or extremely severe depending on the surrounding circumstances arising from the incident.  A criminal law firm offering “reckless driving lawyers” can best act to protect your rights and interests in any criminal proceeding where you are threatened with the loss of freedom and assist you in isolating the best defenses to be raised.

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