When you were pulled over by a police officer, you probably didn’t know that there are many traffic citations far more serious than a simple ticket or fine. Criminal driving offenses including reckless driving can carry significant suspended driver’s license penalties, and even jail time.
Because this isn’t a matter for traffic court, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights in court, and your freedom to drive.
Many people who are charged with offenses like reckless and careless driving don’t realize they were committing a crime when the incident occurred. In some states, the combination of merely two violations in a row can get you criminally charged.
Reckless Driving Laws
Reckless driving is most commonly defined as driving in a manner that puts people and property at risk of harm. Because this is a fairly broad definition, it’s open to police discretion. What one person considers reckless driving, the next may not. This gray area is crucial when your case goes to court.
However, some states also have specific provisions for “reckless by speed”. In Virginia, you can be charged with reckless driving just for going 80mph, or 20mph over the posted speed limit. And they treat a reckless driving charge just as seriously as a DUI, often putting people in jail!
Each state’s reckless driving laws vary greatly. What may be considered a misdemeanor or even civil careless driving offense in one state could be a far more serious criminal reckless driving charge in another. Knowing your state’s laws is a local attorney’s job.
And the good news, is that local attorneys are the one’s who will know exactly what your options are when facing these kinds of criminal charges. There are often opportunities for a good lawyer to get charges reduced to a civil traffic infraction. And that can make a huge difference, in avoiding a criminal record, as well as significant fines, license suspensions, state requirements for SR-22 high risk driver insurance, and a host of other problems and penalties you’d rather not face!
Aggressive Driving Laws
In an effort to combat road rage, many states have passed aggressive driving laws as well. Aggressive driving statutes usually include an element of intent and repeated behaviors. Known as road rage, aggressive driving is typically more serious than careless and reckless driving offenses. Occasionally, this is a felony charge.
Some states have different names for criminal traffic offenses, like negligent operation, driving to endanger, or other specific laws.
But whatever the specific charge you face, these criminal offenses can be life changing. A criminal conviction on your record can affect you in countless ways, whenever anyone does a background check on you – for a job, an apartment or any reason.
And most people can’t survive if they are faced with a suspended drivers license for 12 months, or even 3-6 months. It could mean loss of job, loss of income, and worse.
A defense attorney can gather the police report and your own statement to decide the best course of action in your specific case. There are almost always possible defenses in these cases.
Reckless driving can cost you fines, jail time, and even a suspended license. You may lose your insurance coverage and depending on your record, you may never be allowed to drive again.
Slow Down / Move Over Laws
Some states will charge you with a crime (e.g. reckless / aggressive driving), or at least a significant fine for failing to slow down and move over if there is an emergency vehicle by the side of the road.
For example, if a police car has pulled over a driver, and it is a 4 lane highway with an open left lane for you to pull into, you can be cited for not moving over to the passing lane to give the police officer an extra margin of safety.
Many people are completely unaware of this law and driving requirement.
License Suspension for Habitual Traffic Offenders
Every state has a threshold where you acquire too many points on your license that could be for speeding tickets, or other moving violations within 6 months or 1 year. A very minor civil infraction like speeding or riding too closely could be the one that puts you over the top on license “points” and results in a costly and detrimental license loss.
Despite the harmless sounding nature of these charges, they must be taken seriously. If you are facing charges like these, contact us for a consultation with a local attorney.