Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in California. The legal definition of reckless driving is “driving a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” In other words, it is driving with complete indifference to the consequences of one’s actions.

Some examples of reckless driving include: speeding, swerving in and out of traffic, running red lights or stop signs, and weaving through traffic. The full legal definition is:

California Code, Vehicle Code – VEH § 23103 (Current as of January 01, 2019)

(a) A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

(b) A person who drives a vehicle in an offstreet parking facility, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 12500 , in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

(c) Except as otherwise provided in Section 40008 , persons convicted of the offense of reckless driving shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than five days nor more than 90 days or by a fine of not less than one hundred forty-five dollars ($145) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, except as provided in Section 23104 or 23105 .

source: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/vehicle-code/veh-sect-23103.html

Despite it being worded right out of a legal source, it’s pretty understandable. Regardless, let’s go through the full breadth of the definition behind what reckless driving in America means.

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Does reckless driving affect my case if I am the victim?

So you’ve been in a car accident and it seems as if the person who hit you has been culpable of reckless driving per the officers report. The truth of the matter, however, is that in terms of what is admissible in court an opinion – yes, even an officer’s opinion – is not admissible as evidence. An officer, you and the other party can guess at what speed a person is going but, again, an opinion is not evidence. Tire marks, impact damage, damage to a person confirmed by a medical professional and similar things are admissible and bear weight in a court of law.

That being said, being in a car accident where the other driver was driving recklessly can mean more damage to your property and person(s). If you are concerned about either, contacting a lawyer who specializes in car accidents makes perfect sense.

Click now for a free consultation
Call Now for a Free Consultation

Does reckless driving affect my case if I am the victim?

So you’ve been in a car accident and it seems as if the person who hit you has been culpable of reckless driving per the officers report. The truth of the matter, however, is that in terms of what is admissible in court an opinion – yes, even an officer’s opinion – is not admissible as evidence. An officer, you and the other party can guess at what speed a person is going but, again, an opinion is not evidence. Tire marks, impact damage, damage to a person confirmed by a medical professional and similar things are admissible and bear weight in a court of law.

That being said, being in a car accident where the other driver was driving recklessly can mean more damage to your property and person(s). If you are concerned about either, contacting a lawyer who specializes in car accidents makes perfect sense.

Is reckless driving a felony in California?

Reckless driving is often considered a “wobblette” offense, meaning it is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. It can also include a driving license suspension.  However, there are circumstances in which a reckless driving offense can be charged as a felony. These are typically when the defendant:

  • Has been previously convicted of reckless driving within the past 10 years
  • Was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Caused great bodily injury or death to another person

If any of these aggravating factors are present, the defendant can be charged with a felony, which is punishable by 16 months, 2 or 3 years in state prison.

As you can see, there are some instances in which reckless  driving can be a felony offense. If you have been charged with reckless driving, it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your options and potential defenses.

What speed is considered reckless driving in California?

There is no set speed limit that is considered to be reckless driving in California. As we mentioned earlier, the concept behind reckless driving is largely left to the interpretation of the officer. Instead, reckless driving is based on the totality of the circumstances. This means that a number of factors will be considered in order to determine if someone was driving recklessly. These factors can include:

  • The posted speed limit
  • The weather conditions
  • The traffic conditions
  • Whether the person was weaving in and out of traffic
  • Whether the person was driving on the shoulder
  • Whether the person was passing in a no-passing zone

All of these factors, and more, will be considered in order to determine if someone was driving recklessly. You can see why speed is not the only factor since someone speeding 10 over the limit on a sunny day is vastly different from someone going 5 over in a severe rainstorm with foggy conditions or someone going at the speed limit in a construction zone with heavy traffic and more.

factors

How much is a reckless driving ticket in California?

Reckless driving, especially in the state of California, can rack up quite the fee. The base fee for going speeding in general is $35 plus fines up to $100 depending on your overall speed and other factors. Reckless driving? Well, let us look at the code again:

persons convicted of the offense of reckless driving shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than five days nor more than 90 days or by a fine of not less than one hundred forty-five dollars ($145) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, except as provided in Section 23104 or 23105

Per the vehicle code, reckless driving carries, upon conviction, a fee of no less than $145 dollars and no more than $1,000 dollars. Reckless driving in California, however, is a criminal offense. This means that there are other fees and punishments to be considered. If you’ve been hit by a reckless driver, these are some things to consider in terms of what costs they may be facing.

Can you get arrested for reckless driving in California?

Yes, you can be arrested for reckless driving in California. reckless driving is a criminal offense in the state of California and, as such, can lead to an arrest. The punishment for reckless driving can include up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000, but there are circumstances in which reckless driving can be considered a felony and more. Consult a legal professional if you have been a victim of a reckless driver or accused of reckless driving.

How long does reckless driving stay on record in California?

A reckless driving conviction will stay on your record for at least three years. However, the DMV may keep a reckless driving conviction on your record for up to 10 years. This is why it is so important to avoid a reckless driving conviction if at all possible. A reckless driving conviction can lead to higher insurance rates, loss of job opportunities, and more. Avoiding reckless driving means saving money, and foregoing the risk of putting yourself and others in danger.

A reckless driver hit me, now what?

If you’ve been hit by a reckless driver,  the first thing you should do is seek medical attention if necessary. Once you are out of immediate danger, you should call the police and file a report. If there are witnesses, be sure to get their information as well. These steps will help to ensure that the reckless driver is held accountable for their actions. You should also consult with a legal professional to discuss your options and ensure that you are taking the best course of action for your case.

As we’ve seen, reckless driving is a serious offense in California with severe consequences. Avoiding it at all costs is the best thing anyone who drives in California can do. If you’ve been in a car accident with a reckless driver, contact Kirakosian Law to get the answers you need.