Reckless driving is a serious criminal traffic charge and the consequences of conviction may include jail, fines and a license suspension.
If you have been charged with reckless driving or a criminal traffic related offense, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you fight your charge or -- if the situation demands it -- negotiate a plea deal. An experienced defense attorney will have valuable insight into how the prosecution, the judges, and the court system generally work and respond to certain crimes.
Sheri Pewitt has the experience and the legal insight needed to evaluate your case and advise you of possible plea deals or potential outcomes at trial. She is a thoughtful, competent and aggressive litigator. While Attorney Sheri Pewitt enjoys taking cases to trial, she is also very willing to negotiate a plea deal if a negotiated resolution is best for her client. It is not uncommon for a low breath test DUI charge to be reduced to reckless driving charge in exchange for a plea. In some cases, accepting a reckless driving resolution makes sense. However, in other cases there may be legal issues, evidence problems or potential collateral consequences that make going to trial and fighting the DUI charge the best option. Whether you are charged with reckless driving, or DUI, Sheri Pewitt has specialized training in criminal traffic and DUI defense, a strong working knowledge of breath testing equipment and training in forensic blood collection and testing. She is also a member of the National College of DUI Defense, an organization dedicated to DUI defense and the only organization in the U.S. accredited by the American Bar Association to certify lawyers in DUI Defense Law. If you have been charged with reckless driving or a DUI, contact Sheri Pewitt today at 206-941-0009.
Reckless Driving as an Original Charge
Reckless driving is codified in Revised Code of Washington 46.61.500. It states that:
any person who drives a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property in Washington State is guilty of reckless driving.
The intent of the driver is relevant in reckless driving charges as the state must demonstrate (1) the driver ignored certain risks; and (2) there was a probability of harm because the driver ignored those risks.
Comparing Reckless Driving to Negligent Driving
It's important not to confuse reckless driving with first degree negligent driving, which is a simple misdemeanor offense. Reckless driving is a more serious charge that requires willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, negligent driving only requires driving in a negligent manner that endangers or is likely to endanger people or property.
Reckless Driving as a Negotiated Resolution
In some instances, a DUI may be negotiated down to a reckless driving charge. This does not happen in every case, or even most cases, even for first-time DUI charges. However, there are some circumstances that can lead a prosecutor to offer a reduced charge of reckless driving. These circumstances include:
- A low blood alcohol reading;
- A questionable traffic stop;
- A problem with the test result;
- Chain of custody issues with a collected blood test;
- Witness problems; and
- Other evidentiary problems.
An offer to reduce a DUI charge in exchange for a plea to reckless driving can be obtained in certain cases. A qualified attorney understands the nuances of the law and the facts of each case and will negotiate a reckless driving resolution if appropriate.
Consequences of a Reckless Driving Conviction
Reckless driving is a serious offense with short- and long-term consequences. As a gross misdemeanor, reckless driving is punishable by a maximum of 364 days in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000. While getting the maximum sentence is unlikely, there are still considerable consequences.
A conviction for reckless driving results in a 30-day minimum suspension of driving privileges. You may qualify for an Occupational or Restricted Driver License (ORL) during your suspension. An ORL may allow you to drive to work, school, court-ordered community service, substance abuse treatment, 12-step meetings, healthcare appointments, and to provide care for dependents.
Additionally, reckless driving is one of many offenses considered by the Department of Licensing when evaluating long-term driving conduct. If a driver receives four moving violations within 12 months or five moving violations within 24 months, including moving violations for reckless driving, he or she can be put on probation. Subsequent offenses can result in the suspension of your driving privileges.
In certain circumstances, if you were originally arrested for a DUI and have a prior DUI conviction, a reckless driving conviction may require the installation of an ignition interlock device for six months or more. A DUI charge amended to a reckless driving charge is considered a “prior DUI” for purposes of sentencing if you get another DUI conviction within seven years.
Reinstating Driving Privileges
After your license suspension is over, your license is not automatically reinstated. To reinstate your driving privileges, you must pay a $75.00 re-issue fee, pay all associated driver license fees, and provide proof of financial responsibility for three years.
Proof of financial responsibility is proof that you can pay for any damages you might cause while driving. This proof can be made in one of three ways.
- Proof of SR-22 insurance on your vehicle
- A certificate of deposit issued by the Washington State Department of Licensing for at least $60,000
- A liability bond for at least $60,000 from a surety or bonding company authorized to do business in Washington State.
If You are Charged with Reckless Driving or DUI...
If you are charged with reckless driving or DUI, you face serious potential consequences. Pewitt Law has extensive experience representing people charged with reckless driving and DUI. Pewitt Law, PLLC has the experience you need to help you resolve your case. Contact Sheri Pewitt today at 206-941-0009 for a consultation.