There are several different classes of drivers on the road. The “Leadfoots” seem to have little regard for posted speed limits, “Sunday Drivers” are often accused of not recognizing others on the road around them, and “Tailgaters” appear as though they’re constantly trying to execute some NASCAR-style drafting maneuver. With so many different driving styles, identifying what qualifies as reckless driving may be confusing.
There are some examples of reckless driving that leave little room for debate. Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failing to obey multiple traffic signals or signs, or racing other cars are clear examples of reckless driving, as is passing in the median or across a double yellow line on a two-way highway. Although these seem like simple traffic violations, a criminal defense attorney will reveal the true facts.
The proliferation of cell phones in the last 15-20 years has given rise to a new form of reckless driving: distracted driving. People who choose to text and drive or answer the phone using the handset are taking their attention off the road, which, by definition, meets the standard of reckless driving in many states. However, those who engage in such activity likely do so without any form of reckless intent.
Speeding is another area where applying the blanket definition of reckless driving may be difficult. Cases where drivers were caught going 5-10 mph over the speed limit differ greatly than those where people are clocked at driving 20-40 mph over. The laws of some states may account for this difference by limiting the cases where reckless driving can be charged to those involving severely excessive speeds.
For those arrested for reckless driving, challenging such a charge requires disputing the evidence presented against them. Speed gun readings and accident reports may be difficult to attack, yet witness testimony can often be challenged for credibility. Prosecutors understand this, which is why they will often be open to negotiating a lesser charge in order to avoid having to take a case to trial.