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Just as in the case of laws against speeding or drunk driving (DUI or DWI), laws against "reckless operation of a motor vehicle", or reckless driving, make such actions a crime, and act as a way of deterring dangerous driving. Because it involves a "wanton" or a "willful" disregard for the safety of others, reckless driving is somewhat different.
A misdemeanor crime is generally what reckless driving is. What that means is that constitutional rules apply to reckless driving prosecutions. A case must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution. Miranda rules do apply, so before you begin to answer any questions asked by the police, you have to be informed of your right to remain silent.
Potential punishments and consequences for a reckless driving conviction can, and often are, quite severe. These potential convictions may result in:
It is very common for drivers, because of the severe penalties that are involved, to plea bargain and to plead guilty to an offense which is less serious, perhaps speeding, or another sort of traffic violation viewed as a minor one.
It will depend upon just how local or state law in your area defines the offense, whether or not your driving is considered reckless driving. If in your state you aren't certain just how the law applies, you should seriously consider getting assistance from a criminal law or defense attorney with experience in these matters.
"Driving with a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property", or other terms similar to these, is how state laws usually define reckless driving.
At times, arguing that local or state laws do not define the offense clearly are indeed possible, as challenges to reckless driving charges. The argument is that the law is void for vagueness, and unconstitutional. Most states have upheld over such arguments definitions of reckless driving. There are a few states however, that have determined reckless driving laws to be unconstitutionally somewhat vague. This makes it possible to succeed with a constitutional challenge, depending on the local or state law ordinance. Keep in mind that if you do not at the trial raise the constitutionality issue, if you decide later to appeal, you or your attorney most likely will not be able to bring it up at that time.
If you or someone you know have been charged with reckless driving, it is highly recommended that you seek the assistance of a criminal defense attorney who has plenty of experience handling such cases. Attorney Diana Whipkey Young has been defending the rights of those cited with traffic violations for over 30 years. Call her office today at 770-795-9596 to set up a consultation.
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