Reckless Driving

Reckless Driving Charges

Reckless Driving is a crime of interpretation – the officers interpretation. Reckless Driving is a criminal charge where an officer has full discretion to determine a driver’s intent. The officer must decide whether a driver’s conduct amounts to “willful or wanton disregard” for the safety of people or property. Is it possible for different officers to interpret that standard in vastly different ways? Absolutely.

If you are going 90 miles per hour and are pulled over by Officer A, you may receive a speeding ticket.

If you are going 90 miles per hour and are pulled over by Officer B, you may be taken to jail for Reckless Driving while your car is being impounded.

Same set of facts, but two totally different interpretations. In scenario 1, the person has an infraction – a speeding ticket. In scenario 2, the person is saddled with a criminal charge.

For a free consultation call (360) 792-1000.

reckless driving charges

The full definition of Reckless Driving is as follows:

RCW 46.61.500

Reckless driving—Penalty.

  1. Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. Violation of the provisions of this section is a gross misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to three hundred sixty-four days and by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars. 

On top of the potential jail time, a person convicted of reckless driving shall be suspended by the Department Of Licensing for not less than thirty days. There is no option for an occupational license or an ignition interlock license as is available with a DUI.

Reckless Driving is not a charge to shrug off. It is a gross misdemeanor, the same level of crime as a DUI. It can affect your license status, insurance rates, ability to cross into certain foreign counties, security clearances, ability to rent vehicles, and most importantly, it is a criminal charge on your record.

Options For Resolving A Reckless Driving Case.

Reckless Driving cases are handled in District and Municipal Courts, as they are gross misdemeanors. Being that they are handled in these “lower” Courts, there are more options for resolving a Reckless Driving case other than going to trial or pleading guilty.

Most jurisdictions have some form of a Pre-Trial Diversion Agreement, which is in essence a contract between the Defendant and the Prosecuting Authority. With this type of Diversion Agreement, the Court does not sentence a defendant, the Court merely approves the contract between the parties (the Defendant and the Prosecutor). If the defendant abides by the terms of the contract, the Trespassing case is typically dismissed at the end of the agreed upon term. Procedurally, the case goes onto a long continuance and then ends in a dismissal – there is never a conviction if all the terms are met.

Click here to learn more about pre-trial diversion agreements

Should You Go To Trial?

If a defendant wishes to not resolve the matter through a Diversion or a Compromise, they always have the right to go to trial. At trial, a defendant can require the Prosecutor to prove every element of the Reckless Driving charge beyond a reasonable doubt. You are able to challenge the case based on the elements. It is quite possible that a jury would feel that going 90 MPH on the highway is NOT a “willful or wanton disregard” for the safety of people or property. All Reckless Driving cases are different and that is just one example. Typically each case has it’s own unique set of facts and it’s own unique set of defenses.

Witt Law Group serves individuals that have been charged with the crime of Reckless Driving in Kitsap, Pierce and Jefferson Counties. We also handle cases in nearly all the cities within those Counties. We have offices in Gig Harbor, Poulsbo and Bremerton for your convenience. We offer free consultations and can be reached at (360) 792-1000 (Bremerton) or (253) 312-3838 (Gig Harbor) or you can text one of our attorneys at (360) 710-0027.

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