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Is Reckless Driving a Felony? Misdemeanor Reckless Driving

The crime of reckless driving (RD) exists in virtually all states, although some states “name” the crime differently. The best way to think about what reckless driving is would be to picture in your mind the driving conduct of another motorist near you on the roadway, that is either moving far too fast, changing lanes too close to others or possibly tailgating (of all of the above).

Many state statutes use “with reckless disregard for persons or property” as part of their RD statute. Much like US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about viewing pornographic movies, “you know it when you see it”.

Is reckless driving a minor traffic violation? No, it is not. In nearly all states across the US, reckless driving is a “serious” or major violation of traffic laws that can lead to serious consequences such as fines, imprisonment, and the suspension or revocation of a driver’s license. Wikipedia describes the crime of reckless driving this way:

“In United States law, reckless driving is a major moving violation that generally consists in driving a vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. It is usually a more serious offense than careless driving, improper driving, or driving without due care and attention, and is often punishable by fines, imprisonment, or the suspension or revocation of one’s driver’s license.”

How will having a DUI reduced to reckless driving background check benefit me? Many people reading this article are interested in hiring the best DUI lawyer and getting their DUI charges reduced. This long list of anxious accused citizens includes those with a first lifetime DUI arrest.

In 2023 and beyond, DWI vs DUI law violations (driving under the influence) will now derail more jobs than ever before. Keeping a driving record clear of drunk driving convictions (by getting a charge reduced to reckless operation) impacts far more than car insurance rates. See William Head’s 97 Consequences of a DUI Conviction for more proof of harm to your life, if convicted, along with a critique of his first DUI book.

What Are the Reckless Driving Consequences in Egregious Cases?

In severe cases, jail time and other stiff reckless driving penalties can be imposed. RD is also a predicate driving offense that can allow the prosecution to charge someone with a felony in the event that death or bodily injury is involved. Being fired from some types of employment is also a potential consequence of reckless driving for some individuals.

What if I am charged with reckless and another person has died or been seriously injured in an accident? In the overwhelming majority of states, felony reckless driving will be accused, by using the “predicate” underlying reckless driving misdemeanor statute to “support” an upgrade to a statutory felony charge (under that state’s laws) based upon the accused driver’s callous disregard for the safety of others, while driving.

For out-of-state licensees, before agreeing to plead guilty to a reckless driving ticket in any state, a criminal defense lawyer should consult with experienced criminal law attorneys in the driver’s home state to determine if the conviction may lead to a harsh driver’s license suspension or revocation. This is especially true for drivers with licenses issued in South Carolina, North Carolina, or Virginia.

The federal government, through NHTSA, which oversees highway safety issues, categorizes reckless driving as “risky driving.” Speed-related deaths in America each year are over 10,000, and many death or serious injury cases are reckless driving crimes ending badly.

National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration / NHTSA Logo

How different State Approach Reckless Driving Crime. While a first reckless driving in Virginia suspends the driving privileges of a Virginia license holder, in South Carolina, it is the person’s second RD conviction. In the State of Georgia, no limit to the number of misdemeanor reckless driving Georgia convictions exists (when no accident has produced injuries or death), and all are misdemeanors.

It is common for a reckless driving license suspension to be for 6 months to a full year, in some states, especially when the driver is under the age of 21. In addition, the penalty for reckless driving may be more harshly penalized (by the sentencing judge) if the disposition is in a case that was a 2nd DUI reduced to reckless driving.

Though being convicted of a first-time reckless driving offense in Georgia is less serious than being found guilty of DUI, some people, such as those who drive for major corporations like Uber and Lyft may need more than just a plea reduction to avoid repercussions.

Chances of Getting DUI Reduced to Reckless Driving by DUI Attorney?

Initially, understand that most traffic attorneys never take cases to a trial, especially on serious charges like driving while intoxicated. This fact is important to know since prosecutors know who the “pleaders” are and who will fight cases all the way to trial.

To get a “negotiated” deal, your selected legal professional will need “clout” based upon fighting driving while intoxicated cases all the way through trial, many times before. Plus, if all citizens knew (and exercised) their LEGAL RIGHTS when suspected of driving while impaired, drunk driving attorneys would have better cases to fight in court.

Getting your DUI vs DWI reduced may depend upon five (5) major factors:

  1. Demonstrating that a DUI conviction will have one or more serious impacts on this driver, such as the loss of their job;
  2. that a reckless driving charge can be similarly severe, but won’t result in a license suspension;
  3. It is also may be important to show that the accused person has no prior reckless driving convictions, aggressive driving or similar bad motor vehicle driving record, or possibly that the blood alcohol level was at or below the per see DUI limit in that state;
  4. if available, information that the arresting officer is amenable to the reduction often helps, in some cases; or
  5. Any other special circumstances that may make a reduction appropriate, such as having a special needs child that must be transported daily, or the defendant being in active-duty military service, being a single mother of three children, may also be presented.

What are the chances of getting DUI reduced to reckless driving? See this related article about how a Georgia traffic law attorney and expert criminal defense lawyer was able to successfully fight and beat an 8th DUI for a client and obtain a GA reckless driving reduction. As this case report shows, someone needing an outstanding court result must search for a top-rated DUI lawyer near me that knows how to get a DUI dropped to reckless driving.

Just a word of caution, though. Some prosecutors simply will not reduce unless and until he or she knows that the criminal defense attorney on you case will take the case to trial, and not just “threaten” to do that. Prosecutors hate to lose trials, and that fear drives most DUI cases reductions to reckless driving.

It is important to note that some prosecutors may require to know that the lawyer representing you is willing to take the case to trial, rather than just “threatening” to do so before she or he will agree to reduce the charge. Prosecutors tend to be cautious of losing in court, which is why most DUI cases are reduced.

Driving a motor vehicle in a reckless manner is generally viewed as a more serious infraction than operating a car carelessly, inappropriately, or without due consideration, and can result in penalties such as financial penalties, incarceration, or the suspension or annulment of one’s driver’s license. Driving recklessly is generally viewed as a more serious crime than other types of driving violations and is typically punishable by monetary fines, jail time, or a suspension or revocation of one’s driver’s license.

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