If you are driving and get stopped and given a citation, it is important to understand the terms associated with your charge and the penalties associated with each. Do you know there is a big difference between careless driving and reckless driving? Each state may handle the charges a bit differently, but if you are charged with reckless driving, it is advisable to contact an attorney that specializes in traffic violations because this charge can impact your life in a big way if you are convicted.
What is careless driving?
Careless driving is usually handled as a civil traffic citation. If you decide to pay the ticket, the fine is usually listed on the ticket. Paying the ticket is an admission of guilt and you will get points on your driver’s license. You should talk to a lawyer about your careless driving ticket to see if there is any way to avoid getting points on your license.
If you choose to contest the ticket, you can request a formal hearing at traffic court. The Judge will determine your guilt or innocence and impose monetary penalties if you are found guilty. In addition, you will be assessed points on your driving record. If you have a lawyer, he can negotiate with the court about the number of points, if any, should be placed on your driving record.
What is Reckless Driving?
A reckless driving charge is significantly worse than a careless driving offense. When charged with reckless driving, the officer is saying you operated your vehicle in a dangerous manner that may or may not caused injury to another person and/or another vehicle. Reckless driving means circumstances should have dictated you drove a certain way to avoid hazards, but that you purposely drove in a dangerous manner. Examples of reckless driving include:
- Driving at 20 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit
- Passing a school bus when the red lights are flashing
- Passing first response vehicles when the emergency lights are flashing
- Passing on a railroad track
- Racing on a public road
- Driving carelessly in inclement weather
What Kinds of Penalties are Associated with a Reckless Driving Conviction?
If you are convicted for reckless driving the penalties can be serious. If it is not your first offense or the circumstances behind your charge were severe, you could get jail time — in some states up to a year. The fines can be high — up to $1000 and more in some states. If someone was injured as a result of your reckless driving, you may serve six months to one year in jail, be levied fines, be subject to probation, and have your drivers’ license suspended. In addition, the court may decide that your actions were serious enough to be deemed a felony, whereas you can spend up to five years in prison, or five years of probation and fined several thousand dollars.
You can see why it is extremely important to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney Redwood City, CA relies on if you are given a reckless driving charge or if you have concerns about a careless driving charge.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at The Morales Law Firm, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and reckless driving.