While it’s a common assumption that negligent or dangerous driving could lead to a reckless driving ticket in PA, the criminal consequences are far more severe than you might expect. Considering the wide-ranging implications, costs, and effect on your life it’s in your best interests to retain a Greensburg reckless driving lawyer as soon as possible to assist with your defense.
If you’ve been charged with reckless driving, you can trust Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, and our traffic lawyers in Greensburg to deliver high caliber legal services. We have decades of combined experience advocating for our clients, including in Westmoreland County, amassing some impressive results. Call (724) 834-1275 today or contact us online to set up a free consultation with a veteran reckless driving attorney nearby.
Pennsylvania’s Laws on Reckless Driving
Terms like reckless, negligent, or dangerous driving are often used interchangeably to refer to risky behind-the-wheel conduct. However, in Pennsylvania, there is a specific legal definition for reckless driving, which is a crime instead of a mere traffic violation. According to the statute, you could be charged with reckless driving if you operate your vehicle in a manner that demonstrates a willful or wanton disregard for the safety or property of others.
Examples of Reckless Driving Conduct
The term “willful” makes reckless driving a specific intent offense, which focuses on your state of mind. This type of subjective proof can be challenging for prosecuting attorneys, which is why they emphasize your actions.
Some examples of conduct that may lead to an arrest for reckless driving include:
- Traveling at an irresponsible driving speed;
- Driving on a sidewalk;
- Failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk;
- Following another vehicle too closely;
- Texting or using your phone while driving;
- Dangerous lane changing and cutting off other drivers;
- Driving after drinking, even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) isn’t above the legal limit; and,
- Other egregious acts while behind the wheel of a car.
Common Questions About Reckless Driving Charges
After this general overview of reckless driving in Pennsylvania, you may have additional questions about your case and how it may progress.
How is reckless driving different from negligent driving? Reckless driving is more than just a simple mistake, which might be the case for negligent driving. Generally, it’s operating a vehicle in such a way that you create a high probability of causing an accident. This is why It’s common for police to charge someone with reckless driving at the scene of a crash.
Can I be arrested for a reckless driving charge? Yes, you can be arrested by police for reckless driving in some situations. In most cases, you’ll only be arrested if you’re involved in an accident that caused injuries or property damage.
Is reckless driving a misdemeanor? Under most circumstances, you’ll face a summary offense for reckless driving. This classification doesn’t rise to the level of a misdemeanor or felony, but you can still be sentenced to 90 days’ in custody and a fine of $200. Plus, the matter will go on your driving record.
What is the reckless driving penalty as a misdemeanor or felony? Reckless driving may be more than a summary offense if you have a history of other reckless driving incidents. For a third-degree misdemeanor, you could be sentenced to a maximum of one year in jail and a fine up to $2,000.
Furthermore, if you cause an accident that leads to serious bodily, your reckless driving becomes the heightened crime of aggravated assault by vehicle. This is a third-degree felony in Pennsylvania, which carries a potential sentence of seven years’ in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000.
Are there other consequences for a reckless driving conviction? The implications of a conviction for reckless driving are considerable, even beyond imprisonment and fines. A summary offense can result in a six-month driver’s license suspension, and you could lose your license for up to a year for aggravated assault by vehicle. Also, reckless driving will remain on your criminal record so it will show up in a background check. As such:
- You may lose your job, especially if it requires that you be able to legally drive;
- You could miss out on future employment opportunities;
- Your child custody and visitation rights could be affected;
- Your immigration status may be compromised, or your application for citizenship could be denied; and,
- Your auto insurance rates could skyrocket.
A Reckless Driving Attorney Can Help
As with all criminal cases, you’ll have the opportunity to defend yourself when charged with reckless driving. Our reckless driving lawyers can review your situation and work on a strategy, which may revolve around exposing weaknesses in the case. There must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally operated your vehicle with a willful disregard for people or property. This can be challenging if there were no witnesses, limited evidence, or no facts regarding your alleged reckless driving speed.
Some additional defense options may include:
- Lack of intent;
- Lack of knowledge regarding the speed limit;
- Necessity, such as an emergency that required you to travel at an excessive speed;
- Insufficient radar evidence to measure speed; and,
- Many others depending on your circumstances.
Though these defenses may be available, you still need to bring the relevant issues properly before the court. Usually, the process involves filing motions, supporting documents, and going through a court hearing on the motion. Considering the complex laws and procedural rules, it is wise to have a reckless driving attorney to assist with your defense.
Call Now to Speak with a Greensburg Reckless Driving Lawyer
Our Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys can tell you more about how Pennsylvania reckless driving laws apply to your specific situation after reviewing the details of your case. To set up a no-cost assessment, please call (724) 834-1275 or submit a request online to learn more about our legal services for clients in Greensburg and throughout Westmoreland County.