Reckless driving is one of the more serious moving violations one can receive in the state of New York. Unlike standard traffic tickets, which are considered infractions; these charges are handled in criminal court rather than traffic court and are misdemeanor charges. A conviction of reckless driving can include:
– A suspended license
– Heavy fines
– Jail time
The conviction also carries a minimum of five points against your driver’s license and often results in a marked increase in car insurance premiums. As a misdemeanor, a reckless driving conviction can result in a criminal record. This is a permanent stain on your driving record that cannot be expunged. Furthermore, a law was passed in 2011 to strengthen reckless driving penalties. This law created the crime of aggravated reckless driving and focuses on dangerous driving of those impaired by drugs or alcohol as well as wrong-way drivers. This charge is considered a Class E Felony, the consequences of which are significantly higher and can include up to four years in prison.
Reckless driving in New York is charged when the police officer makes a subjective determination that the driver has operated the vehicle in an irresponsible or out of control manner. Below you’ll find the official statute on it.
Reckless Driving New York Statute:
Reckless driving shall mean driving or using any motor vehicle, motorcycle or any other vehicle propelled by any power other than muscular power or any appliance or accessory thereof in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway. Reckless driving is prohibited. Every person violating this provision shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. (NY VTL 1212)
In order to be considered reckless the driver must either drive in a manner that unreasonably interferes with the fair and proper use of the public highway or drive in a manner that unreasonably endangers other users of said highway. In short, the driver must drive with a reckless disregard for the consequences of their actions to the possible detriment of other users. There is quite a bit of room for interpretation as to the meaning of this guideline, leaving the determination up to the police officers enforcing the law.
There are numerous reasons that these types of charges can be thrown out of court. There may be a defect in the original ticket, a wrong name or missing detail for example. Perhaps the police officer overstepped his interpretation of reckless. Can running one stop sign be considered reckless? Does running two indicate a pattern of behavior? The law is open to interpretation.
Given the subjective interpretation of the law, coupled with possible mitigating circumstances and potential harsh penalties, it is crucial to work with an attorney when facing possible reckless driving charges in New York State. A trained attorney can examine the nature of the case and any related evidence to mount a defense that could be the difference between freedom and jail time. If you are facing reckless driving charges, don’t take your chances on your own. Contact Hillman Law today. We will review your case and determine the best options available to you.