In CA, a reckless driving charge is a misdemeanor crime with serious consequences like an auto impound, driver’s license suspension, jail time, and high fines.
However, the most significant financial consequence will likely be the rise in auto insurance premiums. First, you’ll lose your “good driver discount,” and you will have what insurance classifies as a “serious violation” carrying two points on your record. After a conviction, it is up to your insurance provider if they retain you as a client and how much they will charge.
What Does the CA Traffic Code Say About Reckless Driving
Rumors abound on the internet about what constitutes reckless driving. Some say 15 mph over the speed limit or making your tires screech are reckless driving actions. Neither of those by themselves is reckless driving.
CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 23103, Driving Offenses, says, “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.”
The critical ingredient for a traffic ticket defense attorney could be to prove the driver's action was not “willful or wanton.” Therefore, if you accidentally screech your tires at an intersection, is that willful or wanton?
Of course, that would be up to a judge to decide. The traffic defender must describe the situation to increase the “reasonable doubt” that the driver’s actions weren’t intentional or a reckless “disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
However, that doesn’t mean you intended to cause property damage or personal injury, just that your “willful”actions could cause injury or damage.
Many drivers think that it will be their word against that of the ticketing law enforcement officer (LEO), but the standard in traffic situations is the same as in criminal court, “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
But since reckless driving is a misdemeanor charge, it is a criminal charge as well as a traffic violation. Therefore, you should consult a traffic defender before making a statement to the LEO or court official that might incriminate yourself.
Likewise, many drivers think they can talk their way out of a traffic violation by explaining to the LEO what happened. That is rarely true—especially with a reckless driving incident. Usually, the driver incriminates themselves while the LEO has their bodycam rolling, and that evidence could be used against them in court.
What Are the Consequences of a Reckless Driving Conviction?
If convicted of reckless driving, the driver could be sentenced to five days up to three months, a base fine between $145 and $1,000, or both. In addition to the base fine, the state and county will assess authorized surcharges, penalties, and assessments that could make the total fine five times that amount.
However, as stated above, the increase in your auto insurance could dwarf the amount of the fine because the two negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points assessed if found guilty will remain on the driver’s motor vehicle driving record (MVR) for ten years.
Imagine paying two or three times your usual auto insurance premium for up to ten years. According to Bankrate, the average Californian pays $2,065 per year. Some pay less; some pay much more when they have a teen on their policy.
To avoid these consequences, hiring a traffic attorney with criminal court experience is your best chance of acquittal or a reduced charge.
Reckless Driving Charge in Delano, CA? Contact the Bakersfield Traffic Ticket Defense Team
Before you make a statement to the arresting LEO or a court official, call Bigger & Harman (661) 349-9300 to protect your rights.
We are Bakersfield Traffic Ticket Defenders with experience in Delano Superior Court and the traffic court knowledge to assist you and protect your rights.
Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
CVC Section 23103, Driving Offenses.
The Bankrate.com article, Average cost of car insurance in California for 2022.