How the Court Views and Punishes Reckless Driving Offenders

When someone is arrested for reckless driving, this means that an officer felt as though the way they were operating their vehicle was posing a risk to others. Unlike other traffic laws, each reckless driving arrest is dependent on the specific elements of the incident. In other words, there may be various ways that a person committed reckless driving, and whether they are found guilty or not depends on the circumstances. Those who have been arrested for reckless driving can benefit from getting legal help since the consequences for a conviction can be steep.

What elements of the reckless driving incident will the court focus on?

How reckless driving is defined and what actions are categorized as such, can vary by state. So, the first thing anyone who is facing a reckless driving conviction must do is consult with a reputable criminal defense lawyer in Rockville, MD, such as from the Law Office of Daniel Wright, about the laws for their specific state. However, in general, these are the elements that the court system are likely to focus on when deciding the severity of the repercussions if convicted: 

  • Other factors at the time the reckless driving occurred. The court may want to know what time of day it happened, what the weather conditions were like, whether people or animals were around, whether the driver has been in that area before, and more. The court doesn’t just focus on the exact behavior, but how it fits into the entire scenario.

  • To what degree others were vulnerable to injury or damage. A person can still be convicted of reckless driving even if no person or animal was present at the time. But, the courts will factor in the driving behavior and how much damage could have been caused if others were nearby. If both persons and property may have been in jeopardy, then the repercussions may be steeper.

  • Whether the driver was acting with willful disregard. Reckless driving is much more in the eyes of the law than just making a driver error. The driver must have been intentional and aware that he or she was operating the vehicle in a manner that was dangerous for others’ safety.

  • If the driving behavior is listed under “Per Se” reckless laws. Some states have established laws that list driving behaviors that are automatically deemed reckless, and are referred to as “per se” conditions. For instance, a common per se factor is when a person speeds in excess 20-25 MPH over the posted speed limit.

What are the penalties for a reckless driving conviction?

Of all the driving offenses, reckless driving is near the top as being the most serious. A person who is convicted may face penalties like jail time, fines, and license revocation. The fines can range in amount from a few hundred dollars, up to several thousand dollars. The driver may also face probation, where they must comply with terms like keeping a job, visiting a probation officer, and not committing any other crimes or violations. Many states uphold a rule that anyone convicted of reckless driving has their license suspended or revoked for at least 30 days.