Reckless Driving Charges in California
Instead of a DUI charge, in some cases a driver can face a charge of reckless driving. Reckless driving is when a driver exhibits some form of negligence or disregard for others' safety while they are operating a vehicle. There is no specific circumstance that leads to a reckless driving charge but rather it can be used as an umbrella term for drivers who use bad judgment but do not have enough evidence against them to prove another more serious offense. A reckless charge can arise from any type of accident or a DUI offense.
California Reckless Driving Law Explained
Breaking a traffic law or driving very poorly can lead to an accident where other people get hurt. Because there are many actions that a person can take to endanger other people, a reckless driving law needs to be able to be applied to many situations. According to VC Section 23103 for Reckless Driving:
(a) A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.
(b) A person who drives a vehicle in an offstreet parking facility, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 12500, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.
Common actions that can lead to a charge include excessive speeding, texting or using a cell phone while driving, and disobeying any other traffic law in an obvious manner. An accident or injures do not have to have been caused either. For example, a driver is stopped by police for driving 80 mph in a residential area. No one was hurt, but driving that fast in an area where children could be present likely shows a disregard for safety.
Reckless Driving for DUI in California
One of the best ways to avoid a DUI conviction is to get the charges reduced or dismissed. Another option that is available to some offenders is arranging a plea bargain or plea deal with the aid of an attorney. A plea bargain is an offer where the offender agrees to receive a predetermined sentence in exchange for changing their plea from not guilty to guilty.
A DUI suspect may be offered one of these deals when the prosecution believes that their evidence is not that strong. Reckless driving is a common sentence that results when a DUI charge is reduced.
This practice is so common that there is actually a term for it.A reckless driving case that involves alcohol is referred to as a ‘wet reckless'. California vehicle code section 23103.5 lies out the policies for wet reckless charges. This is done so that, even though a DUI conviction is avoided, courts will know that the reckless driving conviction was related to DUI.
Penalties for Reckless Driving
Reckless driving charges are preferable to DUI charges because the penalties and the stigma of a reckless conviction are both less. A 23103 VC conviction can result in the following:
- Imprisonment in a county jail 5 to 90 days and/or
- A fine of $145 to $1,000
If a person, other than the driver, is injured in a reckless driving accident, the penalties will be even greater. California law considers a person seriously injured if they experienced:
- A loss of consciousness
- A concussion
- A bone fracture
- A protracted loss or impairment of function of a bodily member or organ
- A wound requiring extensive stitches
- Serious disfigurement
- Brain injury
For these cases, the penalties are:
- Imprisonment in a county jail 30 days to 6 months and/or
- A fine of $220 to $1,000
In addition to these penalties, if a driver is convicted of a wet reckless, the charge will still count as a prior DUI offense. This means that if that driver gets arrested for DUI again in the next 10 years, they will be charged with a second offense DUI. A reckless driving conviction can still lead to license suspension if the driver:
- Had a BAC of .08% or greater
- Refused a sobriety test
- Was found guilty at their DMV Hearing
California Reckless Driving Attorney
If you or your child have been arrested for DUI in California and are serious about fighting the charges, call us now. Our DUI lawyers work hard to get you the results that you deserve. The best way to get your charges reduced is to hire a skilled lawyer who can build a strong defense for you. We will go over every aspect of your case in order to make sure that we find the best way to defend you.
While there is no way to guarantee the results that you will get, the best way to take control of your DUI case is to hire an attorney with a proven record of success. Call our DUI firm now for a free consultation and find out more about what we can do for you.