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Reckless Driving

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Reckless Driving Attorney

Reckless driving is defined by California Vehicle Code section 23103 as driving in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, either on the street or in a parking lot.

Elements of Reckless Driving

A person acts with “wanton disregard for safety” when (1) the person is aware their actions present a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm, and (2) the person intentionally ignores that risk. The person does not, however, have to intend to cause damage.

Each of these elements must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Although speed by itself may not constitute reckless driving, a jury may consider the defendant’s speed along with all the surrounding circumstances, in deciding whether a defendant was engaging in reckless driving. Other factors can include whether the vehicle was driven at night, whether other vehicles were on the road, whether a passenger was in the car, etc. In the 1941 case of People v. Nowell, the court upheld a reckless driving conviction where the government showed that the defendant was traveling at 75 to 80 mph on surface streets, at night, through intersections, passing cars, all the while trying to evade capture by the CHP. In fact, reckless driving is often charged alongside violations of evading arrest as defined by California Vehicle Code sections 2800.1, 2800.2 or 2800.3.

Defenses to Reckless Driving

The best defense for reckless driving is to attack the elements of the crime by showing that the driver was not acting in a way that posed a wanton disregard for safety. This may require careful cross examination of the police officer to establish that the defendant was not committing multiple traffic violations.

Other statutes have stated that “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property includes, but is not limited to, driving while fleeing or attempting to elude a pursuing peace officer during which time three or more” traffic violations occur that would result in points, or damage to property occurs. That means, that as defense attorneys, we can try to argue this both ways. If the defendant did not commit multiple traffic violations, we can argue that the standard should be three or more traffic violations. On the other hand, if the driver did commit several traffic violations, we can try to argue that the standard isn’t merely a list of violations, but whether those violations constituted a “wanton disregard for safety”.

Sentencing for Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor. The maximum punishment for the crime is 90 days jail and/or $1000 fine. However, unlike most other misdemeanors, there is a minimum punishment of 5 days jail and/or $145 fine. Reckless driving is also a 2-point traffic offense.

Other Consequences for Reckless Driving

Not only can a reckless driving conviction lead to criminal penalties, but it can also have drastic employment and licensing consequences. Having a reckless driving conviction can prevent a person from finding a job or lead to a person being fired from their current job. Furthermore, many professions that require licensing from a state board, such as doctors, pharmacists, nurses, lawyers, accountants, contractors, teachers, real estate agents and stock brokers, all require background checks. A professional who has a misdemeanor conviction on their record for reckless driving risks losing their professional license, or never acquiring it in the first place.

The Right Lawyer for Reckless Driving

Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer will be the most important decision someone can make when facing reckless driving charges. Many people who face reckless driving charges are good people who made a mistake or exercised poor judgment. There are also some people who have been wrongfully accused of reckless driving based on a misunderstanding or false evidence. You need an attorney who will listen to your side of the story carefully, who will evaluate the evidence thoroughly, who will negotiate with the judge and the District Attorney’s office skillfully, and who will fight in trial aggressively. You need the Law Offices of Fred Thiagarajah.

As a former Deputy District Attorney, Fred Thiagarajah, and his team have the negotiating skills and trial experience necessary to get the best results for their clients. Fred Thiagarajah and his team have helped clients with reckless driving cases in the past. Please read their client testimonials to see how they have helped other clients. With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Bernadino County and Riverside County, make the right choice for reckless driving defense with the Law Offices of Fred Thiagarajah.

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