Reckless driving charges often start like routine traffic stops—but they do not end with a simple ticket. A single reckless driving offense can get you jail time, cost you your drivers license, and haunt your career for years. If you or a loved one are facing a reckless driving charge, you don’t have to do it alone. You need to talk to a Los Angeles reckless driving lawyer.
The Simmrin Law Group can help you. We have built our reputation around helping those who have been arrested—no matter what the circumstances. We have the experience and the knowledge to win cases, and we will defend you like you are our own family member. Let us give you a free consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What counts as reckless driving in Los Angeles?
Reckless driving is defined under a law known as California Vehicle Code 23103. This law states that reckless driving is:
“[Driving] in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
This is an intentionally vague definition. There is no firm line between what is and isn’t a wanton disregard of safety. In theory, this law should be applied only when someone drives almost as if they do not care about safety at all. In practice, however, it’s used as a catch-all offense for anyone who is doing something worse than just speeding or breaking a traffic law. This makes it a favorite offense of prosecutors who can apply it to dozens of different situations.
Examples of what may count as reckless driving include:
Excessive speeding (although this can be covered by other laws)
Swerving repeatedly across lanes
Driving on the sidewalk
Any kind of daredevil behavior, like playing chicken or swerving to threaten a pedestrian
Driving the wrong way on a road
Acting out of road rage
Passing illegally on curves or shoulders
In some cases even tailgating can be charged as reckless driving.
However, the same vagueness that makes reckless driving such a serious charge also works in your favor. It can be hard for a prosecutor to prove that you had a “wanton disregard” of safety. Many reckless driving cases can be won, dismissed or bargained down to a less serious violation.
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What if no one was hurt?
Reckless driving is often used in cases where a driver causes an accident, but it doesn’t have to be. You can be charged and convicted of reckless driving even if no one was hit (or hurt) at all. In fact, many reckless driving cases start when police simply saw suspicious or aggressive driving and pulled the person over. Others start with routine traffic stops for behavior that shouldn’t count as reckless driving at all. This is why it’s so important to fight your case.
If your offense does involve an accident, however, be aware that you could face more serious penalties, especially if someone was hurt.
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What are the penalties for reckless driving in Los Angeles?
The penalties vary depending on the circumstances.
For a first offense, the standard penalties are:
2 points on your driving record (which can trigger a suspended license)
A fine of up to $1,000
Up to 90 days in county jail
Up to 2 years of probation
These penalties can increase if you have had prior reckless driving convictions. They will also be much more severe if someone was hurt or killed.
If you are convicted, the consequences do not end when you have completed your sentence. Unfortunately, reckless driving is a criminal misdemeanor—not a simple traffic violation. That means that every time you apply for a job (or for school or many licensing programs), you will have to disclose your conviction. Employers may choose not to hire you based on this criminal history, even if you have moved on and are a safe driver. For many people, a single reckless driving offense can follow them for years.
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I was offered reckless driving as a plea deal for another offense. Should I take it?
It depends. Reckless driving is commonly offered as a plea bargain for more serious driving offenses, especially DUI. In that context, it can be a good choice even though it has serious penalties of its own. Taking this kind of plea bargain could help you save your drivers license, avoid mandatory traffic school, and dramatically reduce the sentence you face.
However, accepting a reckless deal still means pleading guilty to a crime. It may not be a good choice in all cases. Don’t take a deal simply because the prosecutor offered it to you—even if they say it’s your only chance. You should always consult with a lawyer before making a decision with such life-changing consequences.
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How can a lawyer help me fight a reckless driving charge?
There are several ways a lawyer can help:
Potentially reducing the charge to a traffic ticket or other minor offense.
Negotiating a deal where you don’t serve any jail time.
Helping reduce the penalties you face, especially if people were hurt.
Getting the judge to dismiss your case, especially if there isn’t enough evidence. This means you are free to go.
In some cases, winning your case outright.
Not all of these will work in every case. But a good lawyer understands how reckless driving cases are handled and how to turn them around, even in very tough circumstances. Never face a reckless driving charge without a lawyer.
Talk to a Los Angeles Reckless Driving Lawyer for Free
One traffic stop can change your life for years. Don’t face it alone. Let the professionals at the Simmrin Law Group take up your case—and get you the peace of mind you deserve. We’ll give you a FREE consultation and help you make the best choices possible. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.