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Bad Driving: What To Know About Reckless Driving Charges

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Being caught driving over the speed limit can result in high fines, high insurance rates, and sometimes, a loss of driving privileges. Speeding, failure to signal, improper lane changes, etc. are all in a class of offenses that may result in a ticket and fines. There is another level of offense, though, that could increase the consequences of making poor driving decisions by quite a bit. Read on to find out what could happen if you are charged with reckless driving.

What is Reckless Driving?

Reckless driving turns what might have been a citation into a matter that is far more serious. What makes for a reckless driving charge varies from state to state but it's often applied to those who endanger lives with bad driving moves. In most cases, this can mean a driver exceeds the speed limit by a certain amount and drives in a manner that disregards the safety of themselves and others. Take a look at some common reckless driving situations:

  1. Excessive speed. In addition to a speeding charge, those that exceed the limit by a certain amount fall into the reckless driving category. For example, those caught driving 30 miles per hour over the speed limit in the District of Columbia can be charged with reckless driving.
  2. Failure to yield. For example, failure to move over for emergency vehicles.
  3. Failure to stop at red lights and stop signs.
  4. Driving without headlights on when conditions call for them.
  5. Driving while texting or using a cell phone.

More Than a Ticket

If you are charged with the offense of reckless driving, the punishment can be unexpectedly severe. The punishments will depend on state law but drivers can be charged with a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors carry the potential to send the offender behind bars for up to.a year. As tickets go, this one is serious. Being jailed is not mandatory but you will likely encounter some or all of the below forms of punishment:

  • Probation – You will need to stay in contact with a probation officer for a set period of time and pay the monthly service fees for the privilege.
  • Fines – You might face fines of thousands of dollars in addition to court costs.
  • Community service – To avoid jail time, you might be sentenced to perform a series of jobs for the community such as trash pick-up, soup kitchen duty, and more.
  • Victim restitution – If your actions led to an injury, you may be ordered to pay the victim a sum of money.

This sort of traffic offense crosses the line between a criminal act and a ticket. Speak to a criminal defense lawyer about the consequences you might face if you are convicted of reckless driving.