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Why You Need Representation for a Reckless Driving Ticket

undefinedThe primary reason you need legal representation for reckless driving, an exhibition of speed, or a speed contest is the severity of the traffic laws that prohibit them. All three could be considered a misdemeanor crime, as is “aiding or abetting” a speed contest or “sideshow.”

Since the inception of AB-3, Fong. Exhibition of Speed on a Highway, which is not scheduled to go into effect until July 1, 2025, many law enforcement officers (LEO) are receiving the wrong message and might mistake a simple act of careless driving to be an exhibition of speed or reckless driving. When this happens, you need a traffic ticket defense lawyer. Typically, these are charged as misdemeanor crimes.

As described by the author, the very language of the bill makes it seem like “life or death.” Yes, these crimes are dangerous, but a person that accelerates too fast from a green light might be accused of one of these crimes. Indeed, that might be seen as “careless driving,” but is it reckless driving, or are they engaging in an exhibition of speed? Quite likely, they are not.

This is how Representative Fong introduced the bill. Granted, he is trying to do what is right for the citizens of CA, but sending this message to LEO might cause an unusual crackdown of otherwise law-abiding citizens.

“AB 3 aims to curb illegal street racing by stopping it at its source: motor vehicle exhibition of speed. Illegal street races have grown in rapid frequency throughout the state and have led to serious injuries and tragic deaths of many young individuals. AB 3 sends a strong message that the state will not be lenient toward this dangerous activity that too often results in horrible consequences to our youth and the families they represent.”

When Judicial Council briefs a Criminal Jury Instruction, they define an exhibition of speed as: “A person engages in an exhibition of speed when he or she accelerates or drives at a rate of speed that is dangerous and unsafe in order to show off or make an impression on someone else.”

How Can a Traffic Attorney Help with a Reckless Driving, Exhibition of Speed, or Speed Contest Charge?

A lot could depend on the position of vehicles, including where the LEO was in relation to the defendant’s vehicle. Was the LEO’s viewpoint obscured by other vehicles, trees, or buildings? Writing down as much as you can remember immediately after the summons is issued could be very beneficial to your case.

Remember, “…you have the right to remain silent, and have an attorney present during questioning.”

Reckless driving is defined by CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 23103Driving Offenses, as “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 determining factor could be, was the defendant’s actions a “…willful or wanton disregard for the safety…”?

When the traffic defender considers you might have been guilty of a “careless driving” incident, they can negotiate with the judge for a reduced charge, including an infraction that only requires paying a fine.

If you are found guilty of reckless driving, a speed contest, or an exhibition of speed, you could be sentenced to three to six months in the Kern County jail, probation, and/or a base fine up to $1,000 because these are misdemeanor crimes. That base fine could easily become $3,000 or $4,000 after the state and county surcharges, fees, and penalties are added.

You need an attorney to ask the right questions. Sometimes a driver safety school is more appropriate for public safety than a criminal record. An experienced, resourceful traffic attorney can make that case to the prosecuting attorney or judge and often end up avoiding a conviction on the driver and criminal record.  

Many times, an experienced attorney knows when to ask the right question to raise the level or “reasonable doubt” with the judge.

You might think you can represent yourself. You’ve watched many law and order shows on TV and movies, but this is real life. When that jail cell door slam shut or your chances for a great job or college go away because you weren’t used to driving a manual transmission, popped the clutch, and took off a little too fast from that green light.  Or you actually were driving unsafe and now regret making a bad decision.  You need a knowledgeable and court experienced attorney for your defense.  

Call Bigger & Harman before you make a statement to LEO or a court official. 

Representative Fong is right that racing and reckless driving is out of control on our streets in Bakersfield.  But sometimes the enforcement of the law is not just and the punishment is disproportional to the offense. 

Consult the Traffic Ticket Defense Team of Bigger & Harman, APC, in Bakersfield in Kern County, CA  

When you are charged with reckless driving, a speed contest, or an exhibition of speed, invoke your “right to remain silent,” and call Bigger & Harman at (661) 349-9300.

WE have the knowledge gained from near-daily trips to traffic court and over a decade of experience in Superior Court on traffic-related issues. Use your call to get us there before questioning. If you are a juvenile, call your parents and ask them to call us.  

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

Email: attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com

References:

The 2021 CA Driver Handbook English y Español.

The Cornell Law School LII misdemeanor definition.

AB-3, Fong. Exhibition of Speed on a Highway.

The ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION Laura Friedman, Chair AB 3 (Fong) – As Introduced December 7, 2020 .pdf.