Nobody is a perfect driver. Sometimes people speed at rates far beyond what is safe or they make a bad decision and drink and drive or their unsafe driving causes an accident. Any of these can be an isolated incident. You can have a perfect driving record and make such a mistake. However, they all carry the potential for a reckless driving charge.
In Pennsylvania, reckless driving is a serious charge. With costly fines, points on your driving record and a possible suspension of your driver's license, the effects of a guilty verdict is potentially life altering. You will need an experienced defense attorney to aggressively defend your rights.
What Constitutes Reckless Driving
Reckless driving is defined by 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. Section 3736 as a person driving any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
In essence, what this means is that you can be found guilty of reckless driving if you're driving dangerously and are aware that you're driving dangerously. Now, the state must prove each element under the law, but this is essentially what you are being charged with when given a reckless driving ticket.
Examples of reckless driving:
• Driving at an excessive rate of speed which is putting yourself,
other motorists, or pedestrians at risk
• Moving among traffic lanes swiftly and carelessly
• Driving in the wrong direction down a one way street or other roadway
• Deliberately tailgating another vehicle
•Driving while under the influence of illegal substances
Reckless Driving vs. Careless Driving
People sometimes wonder why they received the more serious reckless driving charge as opposed to Careless Driving. The reason is that the ticketing officer believed the individual was "willful[ly]" driving dangerously, as opposed to acting negligently. "Willfull" is the key factor and is therefore the element your attorney should focus on is attempting to disprove whenever possible in order to beat a reckless driving ticket.
Penalties for Reckless Driving
• 6 month loss of license
• 90 days in jail
• Increased insurance premiums
• Resulting in injury carries a minimum of $1,000 fine and a minimum of 90 days in jail
•Resulting in death carries a fine up to $25,000 and up to 12 months in jail
Why Do I Need an Attorney?
An attorney will review any and all factors that may help you beat the reckless driving charge. Remember, the Commonwealth has to make their case and needs to prove all the elements of the law within the statute. Because of this it is generally in the best interests of both sides to attempt to negotiate a resolution. An aggressive attorney can plea a reckless driving ticket down to a lesser offense that caries fewer points and avoids jail time.
Reckless driving is a serious ticket and needs to be handled as such. Hiring an intelligent and experienced defense attorney is a good first step in protecting your rights.
This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.