Reckless Driving

Reckless Driving

In Washington State, a Reckless Driving ticket is a criminal traffic offense. Reckless Driving charges can result in very serious consequences for all drivers, especially those that drive for work or require a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). 

Reckless Driving is a gross misdemeanor that can result in the following penalties & consequences:

  • Jail time of up to 364 days
  • $5000 fine
  • Probation
  • Mandatory 30-day driver's license suspension
  • SR-22 high risk auto insurance for 36 months
  • Ignition Interlock requirement
  • Increased auto insurance premiums
  • Loss of employment (especially for CDL holders)
Reasons for Arrest

According to WA State law, a person is guilty of Reckless Driving if they “drive any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Accusations of street racing, driving erratically, excessive speed, or being engaged in behavior that results in loss of full control of the vehicle can also result in a Reckless Driving arrest. 

The arresting police officer has a lot of discretion in determining if you should be arrested for Reckless Driving or a less serious offense such as Negligent Driving. In the Tacoma, Seattle, Bellevue, and Olympia areas, law enforcement will often make an arrest for Reckless Driving, even though the evidence suggests that Negligent Driving or a speeding ticket could have been issued.

What Speed is Reckless Driving in Washington State?

The law provides no number or range for being over the speed limit. This is because Reckless Driving tickets should not be issued based upon speeding alone. This is supported by Washington State case law (Schwendeman v. Wallenstein). 

This unfortunately will not stop prosecutors from filing Reckless Driving charges for something as simple as excessive speed or even spinning out. A good Reckless Driving attorney can win these types of cases.

Is Street Racing Reckless Driving? 

Street racing is essentially Reckless Driving so in these cases it is important to fight against the racing element. For example, only going 10 MPH over the speed limit while racing is unfortunately not a valid Reckless Driving defense.

However, it is not uncommon for the police to pull over a driver for excessive speed and incorrectly assume that they were racing, due to the coincidence of another speeding vehicle nearby. With a good Reckless Driving lawyer in your corner, racing can be difficult to prove.

Avoiding a Conviction & License Suspension

A key part of your defense will revolve around your lawyer presenting arguments that your driving was not a safety threat to any person or property. For example, the speed that your vehicle was traveling is often estimated by law enforcement and this can be challenged in court.

If we represent you, we will do a full investigation to uncover evidence that is favorable to your defense. Over 95% of Reckless Driving cases that we defend result in reduced charges or complete case dismissals (dropped charges).

We can normally negotiate settlements that result in a better outcome than what would be possible at trial. The facts of your case, your criminal history, your driving record (including license suspensions), and the court where your Reckless Driving charges are filed will also have an impact on your result.

At Beckwith Law, we are highly skilled Reckless Driving attorneys with offices in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. Our local experience extends to the courtrooms of Pierce County, King County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County and Thurston County, including the cities of Tacoma, Seattle, Bellevue, Puyallup, Kent, Olympia, and Lakewood, WA. 

Call us today for a free consultation. We will answer your questions and discuss your options.

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