It's one thing to catch a speeding ticket while on the way the work. It's another thing entirely if you end up charged with reckless driving. Most driving violations are just infractions. You are breaking the law but not to the degree that you need to be arrested. It can be confusing to sort out how this charge differs in seriousness so read on to learn more.
When a Citation Is Not Enough
Almost any traffic violation can rise to the level of reckless driving. This charge is reserved for those who seem to be disobeying the laws of the road on purpose. When you accidentally forget to signal while making a turn, you probably didn't mean to. Reckless driving offenses put others in danger and are the result of some very poor decisions on the part of the driver.
Examples of Reckless Driving Offenses
You might accidentally exceed the speed limit occasionally, but when you exceed by a certain amount, it's reckless driving. The amount varies by state. For example, in California, you can be charged with reckless driving if you are going 15 mph over the posted limit. Some states bump it up to reckless driving at 30 mph over the limit, however. Other examples of moves that could lead to a reckless driving charge include:
- Driving while texting or using other distracting devices.
- Running stop signs or red lights.
- Failure to yield to emergency vehicles or law enforcement.
- Not using headlights when conditions call for it.
The Consequences of Reckless Driving
You can be arrested on the spot for reckless driving offenses. You probably won't spend any time behind bars, however. Usually, reckless driving is considered a misdemeanor and that means incarceration of up to a year is possible but not probable. Instead of jail, most offenders will be faced with a large array of punishments like:
- Fines — You may have to pay the court thousands of dollars in fines and court costs.
- Community service — You can expect to be assigned to several weekends of picking up roadside trash, working in soup kitchens, working on a farm, and more.
- Removal of driving privileges — You can lose your driver's license in some cases. You might be issued a restricted license allowing you to go to work and other essential places only. Speak to your criminal defense lawyer about a hardship license.
- Probation — Checking in with your probation officer on a regular basis is mandatory.
This is no time to represent yourself. Having a criminal lawyer by your side can result in a plea bargain that reduces your charges and may end up saving you both time and money.
For more information, contact a criminal lawyer today.