Anyone driving in a careless way that could pose danger to another person or property can be charged with reckless driving. The punishments associated with these traffic violations vary between states, with most classifying them as misdemeanors. Despite being considered a relatively minor crime, driving charges can still result in fines of up to $2,500, jail time, and possible revocation of the defendant’s driver’s license. As such, anyone convicted should consider fighting their case. In this article, we share information to help you do just that.
Evidence That May Help You Fight Reckless Driving Charges
It is possible to get a reckless driving charge dropped (or at least reduced) with the help of a legal professional. However, whether or not this is possible does depend on the specifics of each case. Judges will only choose to drop cases that prove the individual’s minor culpability. It is the job of a lawyer to find enough evidence to prove this in court. Below are just some examples of evidence that may help a defendant get the reckless driving ticket dropped:
- Speedometer Calibration: In speeding cases, many drivers will claim that they did not drive as fast as the authorities claim. If they are correct because their speedometer was reading incorrectly, this evidence can be used to get the charges dropped. An attorney can obtain a speedometer calibration to determine whether the vehicle’s speed is accurate and present this to the court.
- GPS Evidence: GPS evidence can also be used to prove the distance traveled in a given timeframe. According to US driving laws, drivers must be traveling over 85 mph or 20 mph more than the posted speed limit for a reckless driving conviction. If the GPS proves this not to be the case, it can be used as evidence to drop the charges.
- Witness Testimonies: Where the charge is awarded for a specific example of misconduct rather than speed, witness testimonies can be used as evidence. For example, a driver may have been charged with reckless driving for dangerously overtaking other vehicles. However, if several witnesses say that wasn’t the case, their testimonies could stand as evidence in court.
- Obscured Signs: Ignoring road signs is classified as a traffic violation and is often enough for a driver to receive a reckless driving charge. However, if the signs were obscured and not visible at the time of the offense, such evidence can be grounds for the charges to be dropped.
When Can a Reckless Driving Charge be Dropped?
Reckless driving cases are typically only dismissed if any of the evidence listed above can be found and be presented in court. The judge may drop a reckless driving charge immediately following the presentation of such evidence. However, prosecutors may offer a “stipulated order of continuance.” This is a period of 1–2 years during which the driver is monitored. If the driver receives no other tickets during this timeframe, the charges are dismissed after a small fine is paid. This resolution tends to be a favorable outcome for all parties.
Additionally, it is often required that the person charged with reckless driving attend a driver improvement class. This acts as evidence of their commitment to safe driving. The training course usually lasts 1–2 days, and the precise specification of the course depends on the type of reckless driving charges given. For example, any driver charged with speeding will have to attend a speed awareness course, whereas an aggressive driving class is more appropriate for someone involved in a serious accident.
The nature of the offense also determines how the course is delivered. In most cases, an online class is acceptable. However, people with multiple tickets on record or who have undertaken more serious driving behaviors will need to attend in person. If the person has a completely clean driving record, a driving course alone without any other evidence might be enough to get the charges dropped.
How to Reduce a Reckless Driving Charge
If there is not enough evidence to support the case being dropped, there is still a possibility that the charges can be reduced. In this case, the charges will be lessened to negligent or improper driving rather than reckless driving. These are not criminal offenses, so the driver’s criminal record will remain clean. The driver will, however, receive several points on their license as a record of the incident. The related punishments are also substantially reduced. Fines are dropped to around $500, and there is no license suspension nor jail time associated with these lesser charges.
The charges may also be reduced to improper driving using the supporting evidence mentioned earlier. In other cases, it is possible to reduce sentencing through a plea bargain. This is when the driver pleads guilty to the charges in exchange for a lesser sentence. The offense will still show on the driver’s record, but any fines, jail time, and license revocation could be substantially reduced.
What if I Choose to Come to Court?
Anyone charged with reckless driving can choose to go to court with an attorney or represent themselves, speaking directly to the judge. A judge may, however, advise a defendant to obtain legal counsel. Having representation can substantially improve a defendant’s chances of getting the reckless driving charges dropped or reduced. It can also ensure fair representation. The defendant will attend the court proceedings alongside his or her attorney. Hearings typically last around thirty minutes, after which the judge will issue final sentencing.
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How to Fight a Reckless Driving Ticket: Tips from Experts
For anyone who has received a reckless driving ticket, getting the charge reduced or dismissed can be worth the time invested in the process. An attorney can assist in finding evidence against the charges and presenting this evidence to the court. In addition, there are things the defendant can do to help improve chances of a positive outcome. Below are three top tips from legal professionals:
- Discover the facts: Get as much information about the incident as possible and write it down so you won’t forget. For example, for speed-related offenses, find out what method the police officer used to determine the speed of the vehicle.
- Stay quiet: Say as little as possible at the time of arrest other than asking incident-related questions. Anything that you do say to law enforcement can later be used against you in court, so try not to speak without your attorney present.
- Be polite: The reporting police officer will have to recall the driving incident in front of a judge. Never argue with the charges and always be extremely polite. Acting otherwise can give the officer reason to remember you and the incident more clearly, which might not work in your favor.
Pleading down a careless driving ticket is possible with the right legal help. An experienced attorney will be able to inform you of your legal rights and will know how to get a careless driving ticket dismissed. The attorney will be able to look for evidence that supports your case. This includes proof that you weren’t traveling at the reported speed or that the driving cannot be legally classified as reckless. Anyone can self-represent in court, but for the best outcome, consider consulting with a knowledgeable lawyer.