You thought you might be getting a traffic or speeding ticket, but now you find yourself facing a criminal charge of reckless driving. While reckless driving may sound like a very minor charge, any criminal charge must be taken seriously.
You can end up with a permanent criminal record from this incident, and there are real circumstances in reckless driving cases that could even land you in jail.
Perhaps you were in a hurry or an emergency came up. We understand that sometimes you get distracted while driving. Your reckless driving offense is most likely an honest mistake. Unfortunately, going through the California Courts can make you feel like a hardened criminal.
When facing any criminal charges, particularly charges that carry potential jail time, an experienced and reliable attorney can make the process more tolerable and increase the likelihood of you having a positive outcome in court.
We have defended many reckless driving cases in California. Chances are yours is similar to some of those we have already handled. We know how the courts work and how to assist you in the best manner possible. Call for a consultation on your reckless driving charges today.
Reckless Driving Laws & Penalties
California statute defines reckless driving as driving with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property”. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor. If the prosecution can prove you drove in such a manner, you may be facing jail time.
There are several possible driving behaviors that could be considered in determining your guilt. The rate of speed, swerving, and tailgating are all possible behaviors the prosecution will use against you in court.
If you are found guilty of reckless driving you will face a potential sentence of up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $1,000. A conviction also counts as 2 points on your driving record. This kind of conviction can also cause your auto insurance rates to be increased.
Ref: California Reckless Driving Laws – California Vehicle Code 23103
Is Reckless Driving A Misdemeanor or Felony in California?
Reckless driving itself is a misdemeanor under California law. Only in a case of “road rage” or extremely aggressive driving where someone was seriously injured would you be charged with a felony offense. The felony itself would be felony assault with a deadly weapon (a vehicle).
Most people who are concerned with whether or not reckless driving is a felony are worried it could impact their current or future employment opportunities. The risk of a misdemeanor conviction doesn’t generally have the same impact, even though it is serious and you should fight to avoid ANY permanent conviction on your record, if at all possible.
Road Rage, Extremely Aggressive Driving, and Assault w/a Deadly Weapon Charges
Although there is no specific “road rage” law on the California books, you can be criminally charged for extremely aggressive driving if it fits certain criteria. First, you would most likely be charged with reckless driving and second, you may be charged with assault or assault with a deadly weapon.
Assault with a deadly weapon is a serious offense that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. When you are in your vehicle and driving aggressively, your vehicle is seen as a deadly weapon. This means that if you operate your vehicle in a forceful manner that is likely to produce great bodily injury, you may be charged with this offense.
Felony assault with a deadly weapon carries with it a sentence of 2-4 years in the California State Prison system. If you are charged with misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon you will face up to one year in county jail.
Ref: Road Rage – California Penal Code Section 245
Reckless Driving – Alcohol Related
A reckless driving charge involving alcohol, aka a wet reckless, is most typically a plea deal for a reduction in charges from a DUI charge. It is not common for a wet reckless to be charged on its own unless there are reasons the police and prosecutors don’t think they can prove a straight DUI offense.
See my page on the penalties for a “wet” reckless driving in California.
How Do I Fight a Reckless Driving Ticket in California?
Not all driving offenses are as simple as a ticket. When you are facing charges like reckless driving you could possibly be sentenced to jail time. This can be a frightening prospect.
And even if you aren’t really at risk of jail (you really aren’t in typical cases without serious injury or other consequences), ANY criminal conviction on your record can cause serious problems to your future opportunities. Background checks are commonplace for jobs, apartments, internships, volunteer opportunities, and many other purposes. Even a minor or misunderstood blemish on your record can get you passed over without you ever knowing about it.
Call our experienced California reckless driving criminal defense lawyers for a consultation on your case today and see how placing your trust in an experienced firm can help.
Find out what we can do to clear your name, and save you money. All for no obligation in our complimentary criminal defense case evaluation. So call now.