Your first thoughts when you see flashing lights in your rear view mirror are likely a quick review of how you’ve been driving over the last several minutes. “Was I speeding?” “Did I miss a red light?” But, rarely do we think our driving will result in jail time. Unfortunately, when you are charged with careless or reckless driving, that’s exactly what might happen.
Maybe you were in a rush and not paying attention to the traffic laws. Perhaps, however, you still aren’t sure what led to these charges. Regardless, a criminal defense and traffic attorney may be able to help.
The lasting impact of a careless or reckless driving conviction can really stink. You could face jail time, but also have to deal with inflated insurance rates or even a loss of your driving priveleges. An attorney may be able to help you avoid these.
Pennsylvania Careless Driving Penalties
Careless driving is defined under Pennsylvania as driving in a “careless disregard for the safety of persons or property.” As you can see, this is a very vague law, leaving it open to interpretation. While some behaviors, like unsafe passing or failing to yield, can be interpreted as “careless”, others aren’t quite so clear cut. Often it’s the officer at the scene who determines what it is that warrants a careless driving charge.
This is typically a summary offense, which means it carries up to 90 days in jail. If injuries result, you could be forced to pay fines as well.
Pennsylvania Reckless Driving Penalties
Like the law governing careless driving, reckless driving is equally vague. You could be charged with this offense if the police believe you were driving in a manner that showed “wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
Like reckless driving, this is a summary offense, carrying up to 90 days in jail. It also carries a $200 fine.
Can I Fight A Careless or Reckless Driving Charge?
It’s easy to see how both of these laws could be applied in a variety of different scenarios. Much of it is left up to the police officer who pulls you over. The problem with this is that not everyone defines “reckless” or “careless” in the same manner. The cop, prosecutor, judge, and your defense lawyer could all have differing opinions.
It’s the job of your defense attorney to cast doubt on the facts alleged in the charges, and this can be done in a variety of ways.
In order to know exactly what you’re up against and what can be done to minimize the effects of these charges, a consultation with a local defense attorney is what you need. Contact our offices today.