If a police officer stops you and issues a traffic citation for reckless driving, you might accept the situation and simply pay the fine. But reckless driving is not just any traffic infraction – it is a misdemeanor that is adjudicated in criminal court.
If you are found guilty of a misdemeanor, you could pay steep fines and spend time in jail. Your record will follow you and impact other aspects of your life, like the amount you pay for automobile and homeowners’ insurance. Before you plead guilty after receiving a moving violation, call a trained traffic violation attorney. A Yonkers reckless driving lawyer from StolzenbergCortelli, LLP may be able to negotiate a plea deal or have your case dismissed if the evidence is weak.
Reckless driving is codified in New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1212. The misdemeanor occurs when a driver’s actions are unreasonable and interfere with other drivers’ proper and unfettered use of public roads, or if a driver’s behavior is unreasonable enough to endanger others on the road.
This definition is troubling because it is subjective and somewhat arbitrary. The courts generally recognize someone driving 30 miles over the posted speed limit as reckless, but someone driving 25 miles over the speed limit may only get a traffic citation for speeding. An attorney from StolzenbergCortelli, LLP should be consulted immediately after receiving a citation for reckless driving in Yonkers.
A citation for reckless driving is not a conviction. The prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver’s actions met the law’s definition.
The driver’s attorney will have the chance to offer defenses to the charge that could get it thrown out. Some common defenses to reckless driving include:
If a jury finds a defense believable, the prosecutor may not be able to prove guilt because the defense introduced reasonable doubt. These complicated legal motions are best handled by skilled Yonkers attorney who is familiar with reckless driving charges.
Although judges have some discretion about sentencing, drivers generally face 30 days in jail and a fine of between $100 and $300 for a first offense, along with five points on their license. A second offense within 18 months brings 90 days in jail and a fine of $100 to $525, plus five points. Jail time is 180 days for a third offense, with a fine of $100 to $1,125 and five points. Convictions also include a state surcharge of $88 or $93.
Any judge hearing a reckless driving case can suspend the person’s driving privileges if the judge believes the driver is a big enough risk on the road. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will also suspend driver’s licenses for anyone accumulating 11 points or more in 18 months.
If six or more points are accumulated in 18 months, convicted motorists will have to pay a Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee (DRA) on top of surcharges and fines. The fee is $300 plus $75 for each point exceeding six.
If you receive a traffic citation for reckless driving, the worst thing you can do is ignore it. This charge is a criminal misdemeanor and you are expected to appear in court. If you accept the consequences by pleading guilty, you face jail time, fines, surcharges, and the stigma of a criminal record.
StolzenbergCortelli, LLP is ready to fight for you. Our Yonkers reckless driving lawyers could present the best defense to the jury to mitigate the charge and generate reasonable doubt. Contact us as soon as possible so that we may begin assessing your case.