Under New York law, reckless driving is a misdemeanor, which is a criminal offense, not a simple traffic violation. Therefore, this isn't a traffic charge where you should just plead guilty, pay and move on with your life. You should contact an experienced Buffalo Reckless Driving Lawyer as soon as possible.
If you're convicted of reckless driving in New York, you will have a criminal record. This means you'll have to answer “yes” if asked on a job application if you have ever been convicted of a crime. And if an employer or anyone else does a criminal background check on you, they will see your reckless driving conviction. Then there's the possibility of paying thousands of dollars in fines, surcharges and higher insurance premiums. Because of the severity of the reckless driving charge, it's wise to seek the counsel of an experienced Buffalo Reckless Driving Lawyer such as the Law Offices of Drew Fritsch P.C.
WHAT IS RECKLESS DRIVING?
Reckless driving occurs when a driver “unreasonably interferes” with the proper use of a public highway or when a driver “unreasonably endangers” others using a public highway. This vague language means police officers have the freedom to use their discretion when deciding what kind of driving behavior qualifies as reckless driving. This can be both good and bad.
The ambiguity in the law makes it easier to argue that you weren't really driving recklessly and the police officer made a mistake in writing the ticket. This happens more often than you might think. Police officers are human, just like everyone else, and they can make mistakes when interpreting the law.
DRIVING CONDUCT THAT CONSTITUTES RECKLESS DRIVING
Reckless driving is not a single mistake, negligent act or simple error in judgment while driving. Rather, it is a “gross deviation” from the “standard of conduct” of a reasonable driver. In most cases, two or more driving infractions will be needed to constitute reckless driving.
For example, running one stop sign is unlikely to constitute reckless driving, but running two stop signs in a row may rise to the level of reckless driving. Missing the first stop sign might be a simple mistake, but running a second one so soon after the first indicates a careless and reckless driver.
Talking on your cell phone isn't usually considered reckless driving (although it's illegal in New York under a separate law), but being on your cell phone while speeding excessively could be interpreted as reckless driving.
In a final example, going the wrong way down a one-way street probably won't be considered reckless driving, but doing so while dangerously swerving in and out of traffic probably will.
Deciding whether someone was driving recklessly can boil down to splitting hairs before a Judge. An experienced Buffalo Reckless Driving Lawyer will be necessary to make these arguments.
LEGAL CONSEQUENCES FOR RECKLESS DRIVING
In addition to having a criminal record, other penalties for a first offense conviction for reckless driving include:
- 5 points added to your driving record
- A fine up to $300
- A court surcharge of at least $70
- A significant car insurance rate hike
- Up to 30 days in jail
For a second reckless driving conviction, the fine can rise to over $500 with potential jail time of 90 days. A third reckless driving conviction will result in a fine in excess of $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail.
There's also the possibility of a driver's license suspension for a reckless driving conviction. While the conviction itself will not result in a suspended license, if the addition of five points to your driving record brings your 18 months accumulated point total to 11 points or more, your license will be suspended.
CHARGED WITH RECKLESS DRIVING?
Being convicted for reckless driving can have dire consequences. This is something you'll want to fight in court, but you shouldn't do so alone. As previously discussed, the type of conduct that results in reckless driving is subject to interpretation which means you'll have to make the necessary legal arguments in court. In order to do this, you'll need legal counsel that's well versed in these types of cases. Contact experienced Buffalo Reckless Driving Lawyer Drew Fritsch to protect your driving record.