Reckless driving is a serious traffic offense in California that can result in fines, jail time, suspension or revocation of your driver's license, and, worst of all, a criminal record that could follow you for life. You need the assistance of a knowledgeable traffic attorney with trial experience.
It is defined as driving a vehicle in a manner that is willful or wantonly reckless, with a disregard for the safety of others. Reckless driving can take many forms, such as speeding, racing, swerving in and out of lanes, and ignoring traffic control devices or law enforcement directives.
Tips to Minimize the Likelihood of or Prevent Reckless Driving Charges
There are several steps that drivers can take to prevent reckless driving and stay safe on the road. These include:
- Obeying all traffic laws and signals
- Maintaining a safe following distance
- Avoiding distractions such as texting or eating while driving
- Avoiding aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating or weaving in and out of lanes
- Being mindful of weather and road conditions
- Wearing a seatbelt and ensuring that all passengers do the same
Although there are no guarantees, abiding by traffic laws will generally keep you and your family safe. However, when you are accused of reckless driving, do not make a statement without an attorney present. Call Bigger & Harman, the Kern County traffic defense team in Bakersfield.
The Consequences of Reckless Driving in California
The consequences of reckless driving in California depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the driver's prior driving record. A first-time offender may face a “base fine” of up to $1,000, five to 90 days in county jail, or both a fine and jail time.
The base fine is before the state and county surcharges, penalties, and assessments are added, which could make the total fine $3,000 or more. Likewise, an experienced and knowledgeable attorney could request two years of probation instead of jail.
A conviction for subsequent offenses will result in even harsher penalties, including a base fine of more than $1,000, up to six months in jail, or both. In addition, a second reckless driving conviction within five years can result in losing your driving privileges for up to six months.
Defenses for a Reckless Driving Charge
Since reckless driving is a misdemeanor charge, drivers should not concern themselves with their defense. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor crime, and to avoid jail time, you must consult an experienced CA attorney. Drivers must invoke their right to remain silent and only make a statement with the presence and guidance of a knowledgeable traffic attorney with experience in criminal trials.
There are several defenses that an attorney might raise in response to a reckless driving charge, depending on your specific circumstances. One defense is that the driver was not driving recklessly but was driving in a manner that was reasonable under the circumstances.
For example, if a driver was speeding and frequently changing lanes to avoid traffic because they were rushing to the hospital to seek medical attention. Their attorney may be able to argue that their actions were not reckless.
Another defense is that the driver's actions were necessary to avoid a greater danger. For example, if a driver swerved to avoid hitting a pedestrian or another vehicle, their attorney might be able to argue that their actions were justified.
Finally, a driver may be able to challenge the accuracy of the evidence against them. For example, if the driver was charged with reckless driving based on the testimony of a witness, an attorney can challenge the credibility of the witness or present evidence that contradicts their testimony.
What the driver charged with reckless driving must bear in mind is that an experienced attorney has seen and heard many trials similar to theirs and can use that knowledge to build a credible defense that raises the level of “reasonable doubt.” Remember, the judge or jury’s standard for conviction is “…guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Conclusion: The Dangers and Consequences of Reckless Driving in California
Reckless driving is a serious traffic offense in CA that can result in fines, jail time, and the loss of driving privileges. It is crucial for drivers to understand the dangers and consequences of reckless driving and take steps to prevent it.
By obeying traffic laws, maintaining a safe following distance, avoiding distractions, and aggressive driving behaviors, drivers can help keep themselves, their families, and others safe on the road.
When, despite your careful driving, you’re issued a traffic violation citation, immediately call Bigger & Harman.
For more information about reckless driving and the consequences of a conviction, read our blog post, The History of the “Sideshow,” Exhibition of Speed, Reckless Driving, & How It Lead to AB-3.
Contact Bigger & Harman, APC, about You or Your Teen’s Juvenile Traffic Ticket
Primarily, we practice only CA traffic law in the Central Valley and Eastern CA area. We use a flat fee to resolve your ticket regardless of how many times we must appear in court. Contact us immediately.
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CA Vehicle Code Section 23103, Public Offenses.