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Comparing the Cost: Guilty vs Not Guilty on a Reckless Driving Charge

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There simply is no comparison; if found guilty of reckless driving, you face jail time, a substantial fine, or both. Before you make a statement or answer the questions of law enforcement or the District Attorney, ask for an attorney.

You have been accused of a crime! Therefore, you have all the Constitutional protections afforded anyone charged with a misdemeanor; just because it is a traffic violation is not a reason to treat it any other way than as the serious offense that it is.

CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 23103, Driving Offenses Defines Reckless Driving

CA traffic law states, “A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.”  When accused, you need legal representation. CVC 23103 also provides, if convicted, an offender will pay a base fine of not less than $145 and no more than $1000.

That minimum “base” fine could wind up being around $700 when you add the county and state surcharges, fees, and assessments such as a 100 percent state penalty assessment, 70 percent for the county assessment, a 40 percent DNA fund, a 50 percent court construction penalty, a 20 percent state surcharge, a 20 percent emergency medical fee. Plus, four other assessments including a Night Court fee, whether you use it or not. Adding those ten additional fees bring that $145 fine up to around $655 depending on the county. And, that $1000 maximum fine? How about $4,080? Do you still think there is a comparison, guilty or not guilty? But, there’s more bad news.

This section of the traffic code also allows for five days in the county jail or up to three months. Plus, the DMV is mandated by CVC 12810, Issuance and Renewal of Licenses to assess two Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) points if convicted. That means your insurance company will discover this conviction at renewal because there is no provision for Traffic Violators School attendance.

Challenging a Reckless Driving Charge, the Good News

Although overturning a reckless driving charge is not a foregone conclusion, there are methods to raise a “reasonable doubt.” Remember, this is a criminal case, therefore the standard for conviction is “guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt.”

One element in every driver’s favor is the wording of this traffic code section, that terminology is the “…willful or wanton disregard…” Remember also, that the burden of proof is on the state. The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt you willfully drove recklessly and endangered public safety. Many drivers assume because they did not mean to drive recklessly, it was not willful. That’s not necessarily true.

Different judges hold a different opinion of what is “willful or wanton.” That is why it is necessary to hire a criminal law professional that specializes in traffic law. Traffic ticket attorneys spend a great deal of time in traffic court and hear how each judge rules on traffic law. Judges often rule the same way, time after time. That is how “legal precedence” is set.

A big mistake many drivers make is to assume there is no way they can win, so they should take any deal the DA offers. They believe hiring an attorney will make it more expensive for them. Don’t make that mistake, always ask a traffic lawyer.

Consult with a Delano Traffic Lawyer

Before making a statement or considering the DA’s offer, call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755. We can be there within the hour from our office in Bakersfield. When you get charged with reckless driving, you need the best criminal defense team in Kern County. We frequently represent clients in Delano Superior Court who have been charged with exhibitions of speed or reckless driving and have an excellent success rate.

These charges should not be taken lightly. However, there is hope of getting the charge dismissed or reduced if you exercise your “right to remain silent.” Call us immediately for a free initial consultation without obligation.

References:

The 2018 CA Driver Handbook .pdf

CVC 12810, Issuance and Renewal of Licenses & CVC 23103, Driving Offenses

The 2018 California Superior Court Bail Schedule for Infractions and Misdemeanors.pdf