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Reckless Driving in California: Understanding the Law and What You Can Do if Accused

Reckless driving, defined in Section 23103, is one of the most vaguely worded statutes in the California Vehicle Code. It states that “[a]ny person who drives any vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” A person found guilty for a first offense of reckless driving in California can face fines of several thousand dollars, a jail sentence of up to 90 days, have their car impounded for up to 30 days, and have their license suspended for a month.

A second or third violation of reckless driving, or if someone was injured as a result of a person’s reckless driving, can result in a mandatory license suspension for a year and up to 6 months in jail. Reckless driving is also considered a “discretionary arrest” misdemeanor, meaning the citing officer can merely give you a ticket, or arrest you and take you to jail.

If you are facing a charge of reckless driving, it is extremely important that you contact a skilled California criminal defense attorney familiar with these types of cases, such as those at the law firm of Wallin & Klarich. A charge of reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense, which, if convicted, will result in a criminal record and two points on your driving record. Generally, two points in any eighteen month period will result in a rise in your car insurance rates. If you have previous points on your record, it could also result in an even longer suspension of your license.

However, if you have been charged with reckless driving, having an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney on your side makes it very possible to fight and win your case. The vague nature of the phrase “willful and wanton disregard for safety” leaves a great deal of room for a skilled attorney to argue that your case either does not merit a misdemeanor charge or should be dismissed entirely.

California courts have held that negligence and even gross negligence, is not enough alone to establish reckless driving. This means that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver intentionally did something he knew, or should have known, could result in killing or injuring someone.

Generally, a rule of thumb by police officers is that three moving violations, committed in rapid succession by a driver, constitute California reckless driving. However, the courts have not adopted this rule, and follow the statutory definition of “willful and wanton disregard for safety.” This means that it is possible to be cited for reckless driving for committing a single “unsafe” maneuver, as defined by the officer, such as cutting sharply across traffic to make an abrupt turn.

If you have been charged with reckless driving, you should contact the experienced Ventura criminal defense lawyers at Wallin & Klarich today. With over 30 years of experience, the California attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have dealt with thousands of reckless driving cases. Let Wallin & Klarich advise you and ensure your rights and freedom are protected under the law. Contact us for a consultation at 1-888-280-6839. Also, visit us online at www.wklaw.com to learn more about your case and what can be done.

About Wallin & Klarich

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Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.