Chester County Reckless Driving Attorney
Reckless Driving in Pennsylvania
Reckless Driving vs. Careless Driving
Many people are confused regarding the difference between careless driving and reckless driving. While both are traffic violations, and both carry fines and other penalties, perhaps the primary difference between the two is intent, and careless driving is the less serious offense. As an example of careless driving, perhaps you did not sleep well the night before, yet you had to go to work, so you got into your car, headed to work, and, as a result of your fatigue you fell asleep at the wheel and were involved in an accident. You had no intention of being a careless driver, yet you did exhibit careless behavior by getting behind the wheel while you were overly fatigued.
Careless driving is a summary offense in the state of Pennsylvania, and, depending on the circumstances, you could be sentenced to as much as 90 days in jail (although a jail sentence is rare for a careless driving conviction), and will pay fines and fees. You will also have three points placed on your driving record, if convicted of careless driving. Reckless driving involves willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or for the property of others. An example of reckless driving is driving 65 in a residential neighborhood, and, as a result of your speed, plowing into a row of mailboxes. You deliberately exceeded the speed limit, despite knowing you could cause a serious accident.
Is Excessive Speed Enough for Charges of Reckless Driving?
Whether exceeding the speed limit warrants charges of reckless driving depends on many factors. The first of those factors is your actual speed. Were you driving 11 miles over the speed limit on the freeway (where most other drivers were also exceeding the speed limit), or were you driving 30 miles over the speed limit in a downtown area where there are typically many pedestrians and bicyclists? If you were simply exceeding the speed limit, without necessarily putting anyone’s life in danger, then you might be guilty of careless driving, but not reckless driving. However, if you are speeding through a school zone, where you could potentially run over a child, then your behavior has reached the level of reckless driving.
Pennsylvania Penalties for Reckless Driving
Reckless driving is also a summary offense in the state of Pennsylvania. If convicted, you could serve up to 90 days in jail, and could be assessed up to $200 in fines. You could also have your driver’s license suspended for six months. If you accrue three or more reckless driving convictions, you will lose your license for five years. Willful or wanton disregard means you intentionally acted irresponsibly or with disregard for how your actions would affect others. If another person is injured or killed due to your reckless driving, you could spend more time in jail and pay a higher fine.
Potential Defenses to Reckless Driving Charges
Far too many drivers make the mistake of assuming they have no choice but to plead guilty to their reckless driving charges, while others believe they can simply show up in court, tell the judge they were not driving recklessly, and that will be that. Both these assumptions are false. It is extremely important that you have an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney from the Ciccarelli Law Offices by your side after being charged with Reckless Driving. We have a number of defenses in response to these charges, one or more of which could be applicable in your case. Consider the following:
- Even if you are guilty of driving recklessly, your attorney could argue for a reduced sentence.
- The prosecution may have made a mistake in your case which would benefit you and the outcome of your reckless driving charges. If your charges relate to excessive speed, the police officer must show the equipment used to measure your speed was recently calibrated, used correctly and that your car was the actual car the device targeted. Remember, each day dozens of cases are thrown out because the prosecutor or the police were unable to prove their case and because a knowledgeable defense attorney knew how to use mistakes to their client’s advantage.
- If there was an accident, you could have been charged with reckless driving. Be aware that the officer must have personally witnessed you driving recklessly. If this is not the case, your attorney may be able to have your reckless driving charges dropped.
- In a few cases of reckless driving, the offense may have taken place just over a city or county line, and your attorney may be able to have the charges dropped due to this issue.
- A spotless DMV record could potentially allow you to have your reckless driving charges dropped or lowered, so if you do have a good driving history, make sure you obtain your DMV record.
Why You Should Fight Your Pennsylvania Reckless Driving Charge
It is important that you discuss your reckless driving charges with your attorney. Don’t feel defeated by the charges—your attorney has many options, such as having your reckless driving charges reduced to a simple speeding ticket. Aside from a DUI, reckless driving is one of the most negative driving offenses you could be charged with, with significant consequences if you are convicted. Many people believe the nature of reckless driving speaks to the state of mind of the person behind the wheel—meaning you wantonly and willfully disregarded the safety of others.
Because of this, having an attorney from the Ciccarelli Law Offices can make a huge difference in the outcome of your charges. Our attorneys have a quarter of a century of experience, and will use that experience to your advantage. We believe that good people make mistakes, and we want to ensure you can look forward to your future without that one mistake holding you back. At Ciccarelli Law Offices, success is our mission—we are driven to serve and ready to fight. Contact Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610)-692-8700.