The Risks of Driving in California
Californians spend a lot of time on the road. Many commute to work or school, and all this time on the road poses a problem. Because California has such strict driving laws, you are at a higher risk of breaking those laws when on the road. There are many California driving crimes, but one of the most common is reckless driving. Reckless driving is a serious offense that could cost you time in jail, money, and your license.
You may be able to raise a defense against your reckless driving charge. Before we look at those defenses, let’s first look at California’s reckless driving law. Under California Vehicle Code 23103, reckless driving is driving upon a California highway with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety or property of others. It is important to point out that while the law specifies you must be on a California highway, highway refers to any California road or off-street parking facility. Wanton means deliberate and uncalled for or unprovoked. You must have meant to do it and had no good reason to do so for your behavior to be deemed wanton in a court of law. The penalties for reckless driving are a minimum five days in jail, but up to 90, and/or a fine of between $145 and $1,000. These penalties increase if you had been drinking alcohol, damaged property, or injured or killed someone while driving.
You may be able to raise a defense in your reckless driving case with the assistance of a skilled attorney. This could result in your case being dismissed. The prosecution must prove you were driving and that you drove with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or their property. There are many possible defenses that can be raised; let’s look at a few.
It was not you driving the car. This one seems silly, but the prosecution must have proof of this. Did an officer pull you over and ask you to identify yourself? If not, you may have a defense.
Your reckless driving was not willful. Emergencies happen. Imagine you are racing to the hospital because your wife is in labor. Your wife is in need of help so you start speeding, disregarding stop signs, anything it takes to get her there in time. If your “reckless” driving was necessary because of an emergency, you may have a strong defense.
Your reckless driving may also not be willful if you were not aware of the rules of the road due to lack of proper signage. For example, if there were insufficient speed limit signs on a particular stretch of highway, your speeding may have not been willful. You may have been speeding, but without a speed limit sign, you may not have known.
You weren’t really being reckless, but perhaps negligent. We are all negligent from time to time when on the road. Exceeding the speed limit by 5 miles is negligent. Failing to fully stop at a stop sign is negligent. Are these actions reckless? No. If what you were doing was really just negligent rather than reckless, you could have a defense.
Your speed wasn’t accurately determined. If you are being charged with reckless driving because of excessive speeding, you may be able to challenge the evidence against you. Was your speed measured? Was the device properly maintained and calibrated? Did the officer using it know what he or she was doing? If your speed was inaccurate, you may have a defense.
Reckless driving is a serious crime in California, one that carries with it harsh penalties. Not all those facing reckless driving charges, however, will be convicted. It is not uncommon for a case to be dismissed due to any number of factors. There may be a defense strategy you can use in your specific case, but you may need an attorney to help you. Defending yourself in court against criminal charges is difficult. It takes a thorough knowledge of not only the law but also how it is frequently interpreted. A skilled attorney can take advantage of any weaknesses in the prosecution’s argument to turn the case in your favor. Make sure you consult with a criminal defense attorney experienced in driving crime defense specifically to have the best chance at a favorable outcome for your case.
Are you facing reckless driving charges? California attorney Christopher Martens knows California driving crime defense and can advise you on how to defend yourself. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Mr. Martens has handled thousands of cases and has taken over 50 to trial. Attorney Christopher Martens has the skills and knowledge needed to defend your rights. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide expert criminal defense counsel. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at MartensLaw@gmail.com for a free consultation.