What is reckless driving?
Reckless driving is a serious traffic violation. Compared to other traffic violations, reckless driving carries more severe penalties including: higher fines, the risk of jail time, and potential suspension of your driver’s license. In most states, a police officer can charge you with reckless driving for a wide range of behavior that shows a disregard for traffic laws and public safety. This standard is loose and subjective. Other states, however, specify certain traffic violations that constitute reckless driving. This commonly takes the form of speeding. If you exceed a certain miles per hour over the posted speed limit or, in some states, if you exceed a certain speed regardless of the posted speed limit, you will face a reckless driving charge. In the event that you or a loved one needs legal advice, do not hesitate to contact a lawyer, like a car accident lawyer has to offer, to assist you.
What should you do if you have been charged with reckless driving?
The first thing you should do after being charged with reckless driving is contact an experienced and competent criminal defense attorney. Hiring an attorney early in the life of your case will increase your chances of getting a lighter sentence. A competent attorney will know the law of your state and will know the local courts in your area. They will be able to advocate for you to get the fairest result possible given your circumstances. Regardless of whether you choose to hire an attorney, you should be careful to comply with all court deadlines. Appear on time for hearings, well dressed and groomed, and be polite and courteous to the judge.
What if I hurt someone while driving recklessly?
If you were charged with reckless driving after an accident, you may be facing a personal injury lawsuit on top of your criminal charges. In the United States, there are two basic bodies of law: criminal law and civil law. Criminal law regards violations of laws passed by the state or federal government. Criminal laws are meant to protect the public from wrongdoers and discourage criminal acts. Reckless driving is a criminal charge as is theft, assault, fraud, and a number of other acts that involve one person acting to hurt another or the public. Criminal law typically takes into account the mindset of the defendant and can involve jail time and fines paid to the government.
Civil law, on the other hand, is a body of law typically dictated by court cases. It is meant to settle disputes between people. It can also overlap with criminal law. For example, if you hurt someone and are arrested for assault, the person you injured may also sue you in civil court to recover money damages. If a court awards money damages to a civil plaintiff, the defendant will pay the plaintiff directly.
If you hurt someone in an accident, you may be facing a reckless driving charge (a criminal charge) and also a lawsuit from someone allegedly injured by your actions (a civil, personal injury lawsuit). Your criminal case and your civil case will proceed in different courts and may end in different results. You may ultimately owe a fine to the government for your criminal charge and to the plaintiff in your civil case to compensate him or her for their injuries. If you are worried that you may be facing a civil lawsuit in addition to criminal charges, discuss your concerns with your criminal defense attorney. Often, your criminal defense attorney will be able to help you with your personal injury case or will refer you to someone else who specializes in that field of law.
In any case, discussing the circumstances of your reckless driving charge with an attorney is always a good idea. Reckless driving is serious and can cost you time and money. Do not delay in getting the help you need.