Port Orchard Reckless Driving Lawyer
Have you been charged with reckless driving in Washington State? If so, you’re probably confused about the punishments you could face if convicted. Any criminal conviction is serious, regardless of whether it’s a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony. And make no mistake, if you’re convicted of a reckless driving charge, you could spend time in jail, be required to carry expensive auto insurance for three years, and/or lose your driving privileges. Right now, the best thing you can do is contact one of our Washington reckless driving lawyers for a free case evaluation.
Many people believe that Reckless Driving is nothing more than a serious traffic ticket. This mindset is dangerously misleading. The consequences of a Reckless Driving charge in Washington State are more than just a slap on the wrist. If you or a loved one has been charged with Reckless Driving in Kitsap County, it is imperative that you seek experienced legal counsel immediately.
With over 50 combined years of experience practicing criminal law, our Port Orchard Reckless Driving defense attorneys are well-versed in fighting criminal traffic charges in Washington state. By talking to you about your case and discussing your options with you, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you determine what your next steps should be. You may find that you have a fighting chance to successfully challenge your Reckless Driving charge.
Our firm offers a free initial case evaluation that costs you nothing more than a little bit of time out of your day. The end result could prevent you from having your driver’s license suspended or even spending a few days in jail.Frequently Asked Questions About Reckless Driving in Kitsap County
Washington State Statute RCW 46.61.500 defines Reckless Driving as
(1) Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.
The common factors for reckless driving include the following:
- Speeding or racing
- Road rage
- Weaving through traffic unsafely
- Ignoring road signs and traffic signals
- Illegal passing by crossing the double yellow line
- Cutting off another driver or pedestrian
- Fleeing from law enforcement
In several states throughout the country, getting charged with reckless driving is no more serious than getting points added to your license which you can then expunge through driving classes. That is not the case in Washington State. If convicted of reckless driving in Kitsap County, your driver’s license is automatically suspended for 30 days by the Department of Licensing, in addition to other penalties like jail time and/or fines.
An SR-22 is a state-issued form, also called a Certificate of Responsibility, verifying that you are carrying the minimum amount of car insurance coverage required by the state after you have been convicted of a serious traffic violation, like DUI or reckless driving. Because an SR-22 designates the policyholder as high-risk, your insurance premium goes up while it’s on file with the state. Drivers in Washington who need to file an SR-22 will also lose any discount related to good driving that they may have previously qualified for. SR-22 insurance can sometimes cost double what your previous policy was.
If convicted of reckless driving in Port Orchard, you need an SR-22 in Washington for 3 years. If your coverage lapses for any reason, the clock will be reset. Your insurer will notify the state if you cancel your policy or allow it to lapse prematurely.What Are the Penalties for a Reckless Driving Conviction in Port Orchard?
Reckless Driving is a gross misdemeanor, carrying a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. RD charges also involve an automatic 30-day license suspension. If you are charged and convicted of reckless driving, and facing a license suspension, you may request a Department of Licensing hearing to challenge your suspension. You have limited time to request a hearing. Hiring a qualified Port Orchard reckless driving attorney will significantly increase your chances of a positive outcome in your challenge case.
If you have been charged with reckless driving in Kitsap County, you may have to appear in court. Because RD is considered a gross misdemeanor, RD cases can be heard in both Municipal and District Courts. Which court you may have to appear in is decided by the location of your vehicle when you were pulled over for RD.
In Washington, reckless driving is defined as operating a vehicle with "willful and wanton disregard of persons or property." The definition is purposefully vague, so that it may be applied to numerous types of dangerous driving.
State Statute RCW 46.51.5249 says this about negligent driving
“A person is guilty of negligent driving in the first degree if he or she operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property, and exhibits the effects of having consumed liquor or marijuana or any drug or exhibits the effects of having inhaled or ingested any chemical, whether or not a legal substance, for its intoxicating or hallucinatory effects.”
Each definition contains a key phrase for understanding the difference between the charges.
“Willful and wanton” is the key phrase for reckless driving. Willful is defined as “acting intentionally and purposely, and not accidentally or inadvertently.” Wanton is defined as “acting intentionally in heedless disregard of the consequences.” This means that a reckless driving charge requires that the accused deliberately disregarded the safety of others and engaged in reckless driving behavior.
For example; Carol is driving down an old two-lane road. The car in front of her is pulling a trailer, and driving 10 miles under the speed limit. Carol checks the road and observes the double-yellow lines. She knows that this means she shouldn’t pass, but she’s impatient and decides to gun her engine to get around the trailer. A highway patrol officer sees Carol do this and pulls her over. Carol is cited for reckless driving.
The key phrase in the negligent driving statute is “exhibits the effects of having consumed liquor or marijuana or any drug,” which makes this charge more similar to a DUI than a reckless driving charge. The tricky part with this is that exhibiting the effects of having consumed alcohol or drugs doesn’t mean that you’ve actually used an intoxicating substance, just that you are showing the same signs and symptoms of someone who has.
For Example; Susan gets a phone call at 2 a.m. from her friend Stacey. Stacey is drunk and needs a ride home from the bar. Susan agrees to pick her up because she knows DUI’s are no joke. She jumps in her car to pick up her friend and gets pulled over by a police officer outside of her neighborhood. The officer tells Susan he pulled her over for failure to stop at a stop sign. He sees that Susan is bleary-eyed but coherent. She assures him that she’s not drunk or high, just tired. He agrees with her assessment but still cites her for Negligent Driving.
Reckless Driving and DUI are both gross misdemeanors and therefore carry the same maximums of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine. However, there are two key differences between a DUI conviction and a Reckless Driving conviction-
- License Suspension Time- DUI convictions carry a 90 minimum driver’s license suspension. A Reckless Driving conviction carries a 30-day license suspension.
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID)- An IID is an instrument you blow into before you can start your vehicle. If you are convicted of a DUI in Washington State, an IID is a mandatory part of your sentencing, even if it is your first offense. ID’s are rarely used in Reckless Driving sentencing.
If you’re facing a reckless driving charge in Kitsap County, you have the right to present an aggressive defense. Anyone facing a reckless driving charge has the right to the assistance of a criminal defense attorney to represent them.
Our Port Orchard criminal law attorneys can help you fight charges of reckless driving. We provide professional and passionate legal representation aimed at helping you get the best possible result in your case. There’s no cost to talk to our team about your options and your rights. Contact us today so we can begin helping you with your case.