Reckless driving can lead to hefty fines but could it also lead to spending time in jail or prison? The answer is yes – but only in certain situations. Read on to learn about those situations and then contact Chambers Law Firm at 855-397-0210 if you would like to request a free legal consultation to learn more about your options.
The Definition of Reckless Driving in California
In order for a prosecutor to prove a charge of reckless driving, they must show that the defendant drove a vehicle on a highway or some other off-street parking facility, and that the defendant drove with disregard for the safety of other people and of property. The law defines a highway as a publicly maintained owned and operated road that is used for vehicular travel.
The Definition of a “Wanton Disregard for Safety”
Another requirement for conviction is the prosecutor proving that the alleged perpetrator had a wanton disregard for safety. California identifies this as a person taking an action when they are aware that it presents a significant risk of harm and when said person ignores that potential for harm. Note that this does not have to include intending to cause damage – it is enough for them to know that damage could occur.
While many people think of speeding as reckless driving, it is not an example of reckless driving by itself. It is just one part of the equation when determining if a driver was driving recklessly. For example, a person speeding on a highway when there are no other vehicles around is likely only guilty of speeding. If they were doing so during rush hour and weaving between slower cars, then this could be considered reckless driving.
Potential Penalties for a Reckless Driving Conviction
This is a misdemeanor charge that can result in up to 90 days in county jail and fines of up to $1,000. However, the penalties can be increased if a minor was injured or a person of any age was seriously injured. Note that in some DUI plea bargains, a charge of driving under the influence can be reduced to a dry reckless.
If a minor is injured during a bout of reckless driving, the defendant could spend as much as a year in jail. If anyone suffers a serious injury as a result of reckless driving, the driver could be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony and could face as long as three years in jail.
While reckless driving may seem a “minor” charge, it can quickly be enhanced to a more serious felony. This is just one of the reasons that we recommend working with an experienced criminal defense attorney from the beginning. You can reach Chambers Law Firm at 855-397-0210 for a free legal consultation.