While a reckless driving offense might result in a simple citation being issued instead of an arrest, the person receiving the ticket needs to understand that the severity of the charge is far more significant than another common traffic violation. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in Texas that is punishable by large fines and possible jail time.
Pleading guilty to reckless driving will lead to you having a criminal record that can create additional long-term problems. You will want to fight to avoid these kinds of issues.
Were you or your loved one recently cited for reckless driving in the Plano area? You can give yourself the best chance of having the criminal charges dismissed by retaining legal counsel.
Texas Transportation Code § 545.401(a) establishes that a person commits the crime of reckless driving when they drive a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Willful is defined as acting intentionally or deliberately while wanton is defined as acting deliberately or unprovoked.
Reckless driving is an unclassified misdemeanor offense. Texas Transportation Code § 545.401(c) establishes that the state law applies to a private access way or parking area provided for a client or patron by a business, other than a private residential property or the property of a garage or parking lot for which a charge is made for the storing or parking of motor vehicles, and a highway or other public place.
Certain reckless driving offenses can involve other criminal charges, with two of the most common being fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and racing on a highway. The latter is a Class A Misdemeanor but the former can be a state jail felony, third-degree felony, or second-degree felony.
As an unclassified misdemeanor, a reckless driving conviction may be punishable by:
● A fine of up to $200; and/or
● Up to 30 days in county jail.
If you are convicted of racing on a highway, a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. Fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer convictions will depend on how offenses are graded, but can be punishable as follows:
● State Jail Felony — Up to two years in state jail and/or fine of up to $10,000
● Third-Degree Felony — Up to 10 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000
● Second-Degree Felony — Up to 20 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000
The other consequence with reckless driving convictions used to be concerns about points being added to your driving record because of the Texas Driver Responsibility Program. On June 14, 2019, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2048 (HB 2048) and effectively killed the Driver Responsibility Program effective September 1, 2019.
Reckless driving is not a crime that is defined by certain concrete factual considerations such as certain speed limit violations. Instead, an offense is almost entirely based on a police officer’s subjective opinion of another person’s driving.
You may be able to argue against your criminal charges simply by arguing that your driving did not involve any willful or want on disregard for the safety of persons or property. The burden will be on a prosecutor to prove that your actions did constitute a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, but prosecutors rarely have the kind of evidence, such as videotape, that demonstrates alleged violations.
In other cases, people may try to use affirmative defenses in which they admit to some measure of dangerous driving but seek to have the criminal behavior excused because of an emergency situation. For example, a person might have been driving recklessly because they were frantically trying to get an injured person to a hospital.
Go ahead and speed: Texas is a lenient state for reckless driving — In August 2015, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported that study by social media company WalletHub found that Texas was the most lenient among all 50 states and the District of Columbia when it comes to passing laws against speeding and reckless driving, and punishing violators. Texas finished last in the study because the state does not define reckless driving by miles per hour, deploy speed cameras for automatic enforcement, or require minimum jail time or license suspension for first-time reckless drivers. Sergeant Mike Hager oversees traffic operations in Bedford and told the Star Telegram that reckless driving can be difficult to prove in court.
Texas among strictest in reckless driving cases— In July 2018, the Athens Daily Review reported that another WalletHub study found that Texas ranked 10th in the minimum jail time for a first reckless driving offense and 13th in the minimum jail time for a second offense. The State also ranked 26th in the average cost of insurance after one speeding ticket. Henderson County Attorney Clint Davis told the Daily Review that most reckless driver cases do not result in jail time.
Driver License Traffic Offenses | Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) — Visit this section of the TxDPS website to learn more about traffic violations and how they can impact your driver’s license. TxDPS states that your driver license can be suspended if you are convicted of four or more moving traffic violations within a 12-month period or seven or more moving traffic violations within a 24-month period. You can request a hearing up to 20 days after the date of the notice of suspension or revocation.
If you or your loved one were issued a ticket for reckless driving in Plano or a nearby community in Collin County, do not delay in getting yourself legal representation. Try to contact the Law Offices Of Richard C. McConathy as quickly as you can.
Our firm will fight to help you achieve the most favorable outcome resulting in the fewest penalties. We can discuss your rights as soon as you call (469) 304-3422 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.