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What New York motorists need to know about reckless driving

On Behalf of | May 24, 2024 | Traffic Defense

Many New York traffic violations go unnoticed and unpunished. People drive in unsafe and illegal manners frequently without encountering law enforcement professionals or facing any sort of consequences.

However, those driving in a way that violates state statutes or puts others at risk may encounter police officers. Other times, police officers may suspect individual drivers of inappropriate conduct because of assumptions that they make. Anyone stopped for a reckless driving offense in New York needs to understand how the state handles those cases.

Reckless driving is not just a traffic infraction

Most traffic infractions, including excess speed, running a red light and failing to use a turn signal, only lead to a traffic citation or ticket. The police officer issues a citation for the violation. The driver pays the fine, which constitutes entering a guilty plea. The state adds points to their license, which may increase their insurance costs or cost them their driving privileges.

Reckless driving is not an offense that produces a ticket. Instead, police officers can arrest someone. According to state law, reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense, not a simple traffic infraction. The penalties depend on whether someone has faced reckless driving allegations before. Someone with no prior offenses could serve up to 30 days in jail and need to pay a fine of up to $300. A second reckless driving charge could lead to 90 days in jail and $525 in fines. A third reckless driving offense could lead to up to 180 days in jail and $1,125 in fines.

What constitutes reckless driving?

Anyone operating a motor vehicle on public roads in New York could face reckless driving accusations for failing to prioritize safety. Any obviously unsafe behavior, ranging from more severe speeding violations to driving the wrong way on a one-way street, might lead to reckless driving charges.

Thankfully, as so much is left to the interpretation of the police officer, those accused of reckless driving can potentially defend against those charges. Providing an alternate explanation for the situation can potentially help an individual facing reckless driving charges minimize their risk of a conviction and the penalties that the state might impose.

Fighting a reckless driving charge can help someone to potentially avoid criminal penalties and even licensing consequences. Drivers often require representation to appropriately respond to allegations of major traffic infractions accordingly.