Each state has its own driving-related laws to keep the roads safe for daily use. When a person breaks these laws, they might face serious punishment. Reckless driving is a criminal offense in the state of Wisconsin. Anyone convicted of this crime may face fines or jail time. Some people will receive both. What is considered reckless driving? Are there legal strategies to help avoid a conviction?
Defining Reckless Driving
The state of Wisconsin defines reckless driving as:
- Driving in a negligent way that endangers a person or property
- Driving in a negligent way and seriously injuring someone as a result
- Endangering someone while driving over railroad tracks or around a crossing gate
There is no formal list of driving behaviors that can result in a reckless driving charge. However, some examples of behaviors that typically result in reckless driving charges include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Texting while driving
- Distracted driving
- Street racing
- Driving at a high speed
- Failing to stop at stop signs or red lights
- Driving aggressively due to road rage
- Driving outside of traffic lanes
- Intentionally blocking the flow of traffic
Penalties for Reckless Driving
The punishment someone may face for a reckless driving conviction depends on how seriously they broke the law. Some violations can even result in felony charges. However, someone facing these charges may seek a more favorable outcome with the support of an experienced and talented reckless driving attorney. An attorney can help someone have their charges lowered or dropped. The penalties for reckless driving charges include:
- First Offense: Someone with their first reckless driving conviction could face between $25 and $200 in fines.
- Repeat Offenses: Someone with another reckless driving conviction within 4 years may face a year-long jail sentence. They may face fines ranging from $50 to $500 as well.
- Offenses resulting in minor injuries: Someone convicted for reckless driving that caused a minor injury to someone else could face between up to a year in jail. They could also face fines between $300 and $2,000.
- Offenses resulting in great bodily harm: Someone charged with reckless driving that resulted in life-threatening injuries to someone else may be convicted of a Class I felony. Felony convictions are extremely serious. Class I felonies carry prison sentences up to 3 and a half years long. They also carry up to $10,000 in fines. The convicted party will also lose their driving privileges for up to a year.
Wisconsin has a point system in place for drivers who commit traffic violations. Anyone convicted for reckless driving will have 6 points added to their license. Their license will be suspended if they receive 12 points within 1 year.
Defenses for Reckless Driving Charges
A reckless driving conviction is very serious. It can lead to fines, jail time, and lost driving privileges. However, there are some common strategies lawyers use to help defend clients facing this charge. These defense strategies may help a person facing reckless driving charges get their charge lowered or dropped.
The Defendant Was Not Driving
The fact that the defendant was driving is one of the main things the prosecution needs to prove in a reckless driving case. The defendant may be acquitted, or their charges may be dropped if the prosecution cannot prove this beyond a reasonable doubt. A person cannot be held responsible for reckless driving if they were a passenger in their car or let someone else borrow their car.
The Driving Was Not Reckless
Many poor driving choices do not qualify for a reckless driving charge. Simply driving over the speed limit is not enough for someone to be charged with reckless driving. If the defendant can prove their actions were not reckless, they may be able to receive a conviction for a lesser traffic violation. They may also have their charges dropped entirely.
The Reckless Driving Was Necessary
A defendant may receive lesser charges if they can prove they drove recklessly because they had no other option. Someone who fled from a dangerous person or drove recklessly to seek medical attention may be able to use necessity as a defense.
A person facing reckless driving charges may be able to use mistakes made by law enforcement officers as a defense in court. For example, if the radar gun used to check their speed was broken, that evidence cannot be used against them in court.
Our Firm Can Help
If you are facing reckless driving charges, The Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella can help you. Our attorney will provide you with one-on-one guidance. We understand that your driving privileges are on the line. You can trust that Attorney Cherella will work tirelessly to have your charges lowered or dropped. Reach out at (414) 882-8382 or online for a free consultation.