Tumwater Reckless Driving

Have You Been Charged With Reckless Driving in Tumwater?

Traffic offenses can be complicated, and a reckless driving charge can be even more arduous as it is treated as a criminal offense. Many people believe that reckless driving is nothing more than a serious traffic ticket, however, the consequences can be far more damaging than just a simple slap on the wrist. This means that, along with having points applied to a driving record, a person may also receive criminal charges that could lead to jail time and hefty fines upon conviction.

Do not allow a moment of bad judgment or a seemingly simple driving mistake result in a reckless driving conviction. There are numerous negative consequences of this charge that may limit your liberty and livelihood.

Take the first step of resolving a reckless driving charge by scheduling an appointment with a knowledgeable Tumwater criminal defense attorney. The court system in Thurston County can be complicated and difficult to understand, let us help you determine what your next steps should be. 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.

When you’ve been charged with a crime, you have to make some big decisions very quickly. We are happy to answer your case-related questions at no cost to you during an initial consultation. We’ve also answered a few frequently asked questions below.

Frequently Asked Questions About Reckless Driving in Thurston County What is Reckless Driving?

The crime of Reckless Driving is defined as driving a motor vehicle with willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Some of the common causes for getting pulled over for reckless driving include:

  • Speeding or racing
  • Road rage
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Ignoring road signs and traffic signals
  • Illegal passing by crossing the double yellow line
  • Tailgating
  • Cutting off another driver or pedestrian
  • Fleeing from law enforcement
Is Reckless Driving a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

Reckless Driving is a gross misdemeanor, however, it can often be charged in conjunction with negligent driving or a DUI. Compounding charges will increase penalties if convicted.

Will I Need to Appear in Court for my Reckless Driving Charge?

If you have been charged with reckless driving in Thurston County, you may have to appear in court. Because reckless driving is considered a gross misdemeanor, reckless driving cases will most likely be adjudicated at the Thurston County District Court, located in Olympia.

What are the Penalties for a Reckless Driving Conviction in Tumwater?

Because reckless driving is considered a gross misdemeanor, it carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. RD charges also involve an automatic 30-day license suspension. Reckless driving is also considered a major moving violation, and in order to get your license reinstated after its suspension, you are required to carry an SR-22.

What is an SR-22?

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 Tumwater, you will need an SR-22 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 is the Difference Between Reckless Driving and Negligent Driving in Tumwater?

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.”

Pretty vague, isn’t it?

Conversely, the Statute about negligent driving, RCW 46.61.5249 is quite specific. It states that
“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.

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 used an intoxicating substance, just that you are showing the same signs and symptoms as someone who has.

Often, prosecutors will try to bundle negligent driving with a DUI charge to ensure the defendant receives more harsh punishment. Defense attorneys will try to have a DUI charge “knocked down to” or lessened to reckless driving. Even though both DUI and reckless driving are considered gross misdemeanors, reckless driving does not carry a mandatory minimum jail sentence and the driver’s license suspension only runs for 30 days, compared to the minimum 90-day suspension that comes with a DUI conviction.

How Can a Tumwater Criminal Defense Attorney Help Me?

Even the most diligent drivers may find themselves pulled over and charged with reckless driving. Because a reckless driving charge implies intent and refers to the state of mind of the driver, it can be hard to prove in a court of law. This can work to a client’s advantage if they have an experienced Thurston County defense attorney. A knowledgeable Tumwater reckless driving lawyer can use this difficulty to his or her client’s advantage by gathering the individual details of the case to create a solid defense argument.

Have you been charged with careless or reckless driving in the Tumwater area? Are you worried about how this charge will affect your driving record and insurance premiums? Do you have questions about something specific pertaining to your charge? Contact our office today to discuss your reckless driving case. We offer a free initial case consultation for new clients. Our goal is to help you understand the legal issues involved in your case and let you know what we can do to help.

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