In Arizona, if you’re pulled over and issued a citation for reckless driving, it isn’t as easy as paying a fine and moving on with your life. This is because reckless driving is a crime in Arizona, and if you’re convicted, you could be sent to jail. Therefore, it is imperative that anyone who faces Phoenix reckless driving charges reach out to an experienced traffic violations attorney to immediately begin working on a defense.
At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we have more than two decades of hands-on experience defending the rights, freedoms, and driving privileges of good people charged with potentially life-changing crimes. We understand the best reckless driving defenses and how to use them to ensure your case ends in the best result possible.What Is Reckless Driving in Arizona?
Arizona’s reckless driving law is contained in A.R.S. § 28-693. This statute provides that a driver who exhibits a “reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property” commits the crime of reckless driving. Notably, the term “reckless disregard” is not defined anywhere in the Arizona Revised Statutes, so it is up to the judge or jury to determine if a driver’s actions rise to the level of criminality. However, the term “reckless” refers to consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that represents a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable driver would exercise in the same situation.
For example, courts have upheld reckless driving convictions based on the following:
- Excessive speeding in an area with significant pedestrian traffic;
- Driving the wrong way on a one-way road or on the highway;
- Swerving to avoid a pedestrian who is crossing at a crosswalk;
- Using a vehicle to intimidate other drivers or pedestrians; and
- Tail-gating or brake-checking.
Although reckless driving is a traffic violation, it is also a criminal offense. Thus, if you are pulled over for reckless driving, the officer doesn’t need to arrest you, but they may, depending on the surrounding circumstances. Either way, however, you will not be able to pay a ticket and be on your way; you will need to attend court.
In Phoenix, reckless driving is a class 2 misdemeanor, which carries a possible jail sentence of up to four months. In addition, you will face a fine of up to $750 and a license suspension of up to 90 days.
However, if you have a prior reckless driving conviction within the past 24 months, the crime becomes a class 1 misdemeanor. This increases the potential jail time to six months and requires a 20-day jail sentence. A second-offense reckless driving conviction will also result in a one-year driver’s license suspension. However, you can apply for a restricted driver’s license after 45 days.What Are the Defenses to Reckless Driving?
While reckless driving charges can be tough to beat, there are several defenses, including the following:
- You were not driving at the time;
- You were not driving recklessly; and
- An emergency situation justified your otherwise criminal driving behaviors.
There may be other defenses that apply to your case, for example, if police officers violated your constitutional rights in searching your care or taking a statement from you. An experienced Phoenix reckless driving lawyer can help you determine which defenses apply best in your case.Have You Been Charged with Reckless Driving in Maricopa County?
If you were recently cited for reckless driving and have an upcoming court date, it is important that you have an experienced Phoenix vehicle crimes lawyer by your side to protect your rights. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we recognize that while reckless driving charges are not the most serious crimes on the books, a conviction can seriously affect your way of life. Therefore, we treat every reckless driving case as though it was our future on the line. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 480-413-1499. You can also reach us through our online contact form.