By: William C. Head, Award-Winning Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me in metro Atlanta Georgia
The traffic ticket known as “reckless driving” is characterized as a serious driving offense in virtually every state in America. Differences exist between each state’s categorization of a reckless driving ticket (e.g., such as when a reckless driving ticket can support a felony, in an accident case), and in the punishment and points for reckless driving.
This article will set forth the 10 most common questions and answers about the traffic offense known as “reckless driving.”
Reckless driving is a felony in a few states, for repeat offenders. In many states, felony reckless driving charges can be accused in connection with accidents (from driving recklessly) and causing:
a. Death to another person or fetus;
b. Serious bodily injury by driving with reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property;
c. (in a few jurisdictions) through being a repeat offender, with prior convictions, as defined by state law. Reckless driving Virginia laws have some of the nation’s toughest laws on reckless driving.
Punishment for a felony is typically defined as being a crime with more than one year in state prison, in most states. Most laws allow for this to be probated, unless death or serious injury are part of the felony case.
In most states, yes. A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 12 months in jail or on probation. As to collateral punishment, such as loss of driver’s license of rehabilitation requirements, to be able to drive again, each state dictates those rules. For example, a second DUI in South Carolina causes license suspension, but not in Georgia or Florida.
Driving in “reckless disregard for persons or property” is part of most states’ laws. The intentionally vague language allows a police officer to “paint a picture” for a jury, as to the manner that the driver disregarded the safety of one or more people, or property, by the driving conduct observed. Sometimes, citizens who saw the dangerous driving conduct on the roadway make the best state witnesses.
Except in about 5% to 10% of all DUI in Georgia cases, getting a DUI dismissed is unlikely. This is question of obtaining a reduction from a driving under the influence charge necessitates a state-by-state analysis. So, asking a DUI attorney, “Can you get a DUI reduced to reckless driving?” can’t be simply answered. Some states have passed statutes criminalizing the act of a prosecutor to reduce ANY DUI to any other charge. Oregon is one such state. In other states, like reckless driving in GA, South Carolina and Florida, a DUI lawyer near me can and does do this in many cases, but the availability of reckless driving in Georgia varies greatly between courts and prosecutors.
This issue how many reckless driving points are added to a state DMV, MVR, DPS or BMV record is determined by state law, also. If your traffic ticket lawyer can get a speeding ticket disposition, and nor the more serious misdemeanor of reckless driving, this may be a “win” for you, and keep you from being suspended. Some states (like North Carolina and Virginia) call for immediate suspension upon conviction of reckless driving. Others, like South Carolina, add 6 points on the person’s license, which automatically boosts car insurance premiums, under their integrated system of assigning points to all traffic tickets. Georgia assigns 4 reckless driving points at Georgia DDS, and a nolo contendere plea (if allowed by the Judge) can make that zero points at the Georgia Department of Driver Services.
In some states, laws are in place that make excessive speed at a specific number of miles per hour over the posted limit an “automatic” reckless driving ticket. Virginia and North Carolina have such laws, and a conviction causes license suspension. Other states, like Georgia, have converted excessive speeding into a “tax,” under its super speeder GA law. This law pops the heavy-footed driver for $200, on TOP of all other criminal fines and surcharges, that can easily exceed $1000.
Thus, in Georgia, a driver traveling on a two-lane road at 74 miles per hour in a 35 MPH zone does not pay the super speeder penalty, but the driver driving at 75 MPH or more on the same road must pay it. So, each state decides the exact statutory language and operative number of miles per hour over the posted limit.
Once again, state law determines issues like availability of a “record restriction,” or aging off a driving history or criminal record. In Georgia, misdemeanor reckless driving stays on the driver’s record for life.
In most states, no. Convictions, however, and the length of time such traffic ticket misdemeanors can stay on a person’s record is controlled by that state’s motor vehicle laws. In California, it can be expunged after an extensive waiting period of 10 years. Georgia reckless driving law has no expungement option.
Fines in many states are fixed, or have a minimum and maximum fine, under state laws. Other states, like Georgia, do not have a minimum, but (by statute) has a maximum fine for simple misdemeanors of $1000, plus surcharges that add another 40% or so to that.
Yes, in all states. It is also a “predicate” serious driving offense that allows a prosecutor to accuse a death or serious bodily injury as a felony, in almost 100% of the states.
Do you need our assistance in trying to get a DUI reduced to reckless driving? Considering the huge difference in penalties in Georgia, reckless driving vs DUI is a “no-brainer” if we can obtain that for our clients’ DUI in Georgia, for most people. Fortunately, in a given year, we can accomplish that in hundreds of cases that began as drunk driving cases.
Reckless driving in GA can be a huge problem, in car accidents, plus can suspend the license of a driver under age 21 in Georgia. Insurance premiums will soar, if a Georgia auto insurance carrier sees either a reckless driving or a license suspension for a young driver on your policy. Plus, reckless driving penalties, in egregious cases, may require jail time. See this recent news story from Atlanta rapper Lil Baby being arrested from reckless driving.
Plus, reckless driving probation is assigned as part of the sentence in most reckless driving Georgia cases, and this can sometimes result in a probation revocation when a new criminal or traffic offense occurs by the person serving probation. Think of probation as being the privilege to not being sitting behind bars, so long as you don’t screw up again.
Reckless driving Georgia is a misdemeanor, NOT a traffic infraction. Learn your rights, your options and your potential penalties BEFORE going to Court alone. Our traffic ticket lawyers, William Head, Larry Kohn and Cory Yager, have a statewide network of expert traffic ticket lawyers near me, and can refer you to a specialist, if your case is outside the metro Atlanta area. Call our 24 hour attorneys for a FREE lawyer consultation near me. 404-567-5515.