Often thought of as simply a crime that DUIs are pled down from, reckless driving is also a standalone crime and a common criminal offense in Arizona. If you received a reckless driving ticket you may have thought that it was simply a “traffic offense.” However, there are significant differences when you compare reckless driving charges to running a stop sign, tailgating, or even speeding. In fact, it is a criminal traffic violation and punishable by fines, MVD consequences and even jail time.
Reckless Driving differs from other traffic violations in the following respects:
- The penalties for reckless driving are more severe than for most traffic offenses.
- More points are assessed through MVD than other most other offenses.
- The evidence in reckless driving charges tend to be more complex, and involve more conjecture and subjective conclusions, than other traffic offenses.
Definition of Reckless Driving
The precise definition of reckless driving can be found in A.R.S. § 28-693 which defines it as:
- Driving in reckless disregard for the safety of people or property.
As referenced above, the exact definition of reckless driving can be somewhat vague and difficult to visualize. However, in an effort to better understand the exact legal definition the statute can be broken into two pieces. The second portion of the statute is fairly straightforward in that it’s easy to understand what “safety of people or property” means.
The first portion of the sentence tends to be the more unclear component as “reckless disregard” is not clearly defined in the statue. However, reckless disregard means that you were aware that your actions posed:
- A significant risk of injury or damage; and
- That you were unjustified in taking the risk; and
- That your actions constituted a gross deviation from how a reasonable person would have acted.
SIDE NOTE: The phrase “gross deviation” is important as it requires proof of more than mere negligence.
The bottom line is that there is no set of rules that will tell you with certainty whether or not a particular set of circumstances constitutes reckless driving. Exceeding the speed limit, for example, is a charge that can be measured; recklessness, on the other hand, involves your state of mind, and the proof (or lack of proof) will depend upon whether that state of mind can be gleaned from the surrounding circumstances. While the inability to 100% define the crime can be frustrating, it also holds the key for an experienced attorney to make winning arguments before a jury.
Penalties for Reckless Driving
If convicted, the punishment could include:
- Class 2 misdemeanor;
- The possibility of up 4 months in jail, though mandatory minimum jail is required by law;
- Monetary fine;
- 8 Points on your driver license.
- Potential loss of driver license for up to 90 days.
Penalties for Reckless Driving — Second Offense
As in the case of DUI and many other offenses, the penalties can increase if you have a prior conviction within the previous 24 months. In instance of a second offense punishment includes:
- Class 1 misdemeanor,
- Mandatory minimum jail sentence of 20 days;
- Monetary fine;
- 8 Points on your driver license;
- Mandatory suspension of your driver license;
- SR22 Insurance.
Reckless Driving Defenses
There is no question that these are serious charges, but the fact that you have been charged does not mean that you will be convicted. We know what the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, in your case. We also know that the offense requires proof that you knew of a particular danger, and consciously decided to ignore it.
Finally, it requires proof that your actions represented a gross deviation from the way in which a reasonable person would have acted. In many cases, we can develop facts that run contrary to the allegations against you and create reasonable doubt sufficient to defeat the prosecutor’s case.
Reckless Driving Attorney
At Feldman & Royle, we are experienced in handling all types of vehicular crimes from criminal speeding tickets to vehicular homicide charges. With the penalties that you will likely face, it makes sense to hire and experienced reckless driving attorney. We have handled reckless driving charges in both plea negotiations as well as jury trials and are familiar with the strategies to either reduce or dismiss or obtain a not guilty verdict.
Don’t run the risk of losing your driving privileges, going to jail, dealing with increased insurance premiums or any other penalties. Call us today to speak to an experienced reckless driving attorney about your charges. We offer a free and confidential consultation in order to assess your individual case and develop a defense strategy.