What Is Considered Reckless Driving in Arizona?
A ticket for reckless driving in Arizona is a criminal traffic charge that can involve serious consequences. A.R.S. § 28-693 covers reckless driving, and it's defined as when “a person drives a vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property”. Opinions vary on what exactly constitutes a danger to people or property, but here are some examples of situations where we see reckless driving tickets:
- Egregious speeding: This depends on the jurisdiction, but sometimes we see reckless driving tickets together with excessive speed tickets when the speeds are 40, 50, 60, or more mph over the posted speed limit;
- A pattern of moving violations: If a police officer observes a driver commits a series of moving violations, he might write a ticket for reckless driving or aggressive driving;
- Donuts or burnouts on private property;
- Some traffic accidents: Most accidents are just a driver's mistake, but if the driver was doing something like speeding or burnout that caused the accident, a ticket for reckless driving might be issued.
Potential Penalties Following an Arizona Reckless Driving Conviction
Unlike civil traffic speeding and other minor traffic violations, reckless driving is considered a criminal offense. Anyone convicted of this charge may be heavily fined, face a license suspension, be put on probation, and potentially even be required to serve time in jail.
Reckless driving is a class 2 misdemeanor in Arizona. While it's less serious than a class 1 misdemeanor like a DUI, it's still a very serious moving violation.
If you're convicted of reckless driving, the potential penalties include:
- A class 2 misdemeanor conviction;
- Up to a $750 fine plus surcharges, which could bring the fine close to $1,500;
- Up to 4 months in jail;
- Up to 2 years probation;
- The judge may suspend your driving privileges for up to 90 days. See A.R.S. 28-693(C);
- 8 points on your driving record.
For most first-time convictions, the consequences are limited to the misdemeanor conviction, a fine far less than the maximum, the points, and no jail time and no probation.
These consequences may be enhanced significantly if the defendant was previously convicted of reckless driving or negligent homicide, vehicular manslaughter, any racing-related offense, or any form of DUI within the 24 months before their arrest for reckless driving.
If you've been convicted in the previous 24 months of reckless driving, negligent homicide with a car, manslaughter with a car, racing, DUI, extreme DUI, or aggravated DUI, a reckless driving conviction becomes a class 1 misdemeanor. See A.R.S. 28-693(D)(1). In this case, the possible penalties could include:
- Minimum 20 days in jail with the possibility of up to 6 months in jail;
- The fine increases to $2,500 plus surcharges, bringing the total possible fine close to $5,000;
- Up to 3 years probation;
- Mandatory 1-year license suspension;
- 8 points on your driving record.
In addition to any criminal penalties they may face, anyone convicted of reckless driving in Arizona will receive eight points on their Arizona driver's license, which requires them to immediately complete an in-person eight-hour session of Traffic Survival School (TSS). If a convicted person doesn't attend these classes, or if they have attended Traffic Survival School within the previous 24 months, their driver's license will be suspended.
Stages of a Gilbert Reckless Driving Case
When a driver is issued with reckless driving in Gilbert, they're either (1) issued a traffic ticket and released by an officer with a court date in which they're required to appear or (2) they are arrested and booked into jail until they see a judge and released.
Possible Defenses for Reckless Driving Charges in Phoenix, Arizona
Several potential defenses may help fight reckless driving charges in Phoenix, Arizona:
- Responding to a traffic emergency: Demonstrating that you were trying to avoid a collision or swerving to avoid a sudden obstacle;
- Car malfunction: Proving your car experienced a sudden mechanical issue, like brake failure, that impaired your ability to drive normally;
- Lack of danger: Explaining that given your location at the time, no persons or property were actually in jeopardy from your driving;
- Procedural issues: Identifying any infringements of your rights throughout the traffic stop or citation process that could lead to dismissal;
- Context of the driving: Showing your driving didn't meet the standard for criminal recklessness under specific circumstances;
- Misjudgment by officer: Contesting the officer's discretion and explanation of why you were deemed as driving recklessly.
While these defenses may help, every reckless driving allegation is unique. There's no guaranteed strategy to avoid penalties. Because "reckless" is subjective, the citing officer has broad discretion in determining what driving to charge as reckless. A Phoenix criminal defense attorney can advise you on the best defense based on the details of your traffic stop and charges.
Why You Need a Phoenix Reckless Driving Charge Attorney in Arizona
While it's possible to effectively contest an accusation of reckless driving, that doesn't mean it's easy.
Most cases involving reckless driving are assigned to a prosecuting attorney to represent the State so drivers should seek the advice and counsel of a defense attorney to help protect their interests. Let's face it, prosecutors in Arizona often side with police officers in these kinds of cases, and they have the authority to pursue harsh penalties if you have a prior record of driving-related offenses.
If you were recently arrested or facing a reckless driving charge, call the Law Offices of Brandon White today to schedule a complimentary consultation and strategy session with one of our reckless driving lawyers.
Our attorneys can:
- Review the details of your case and police report;
- Advise you on possible defense strategies;
- Represent you in negotiations with the prosecutor;
- Defend you in court proceedings if needed;
- Seek to minimize penalties and protect your driving privileges.
If you received a ticket for reckless driving, it is out of one of the following courts: Kyrene Justice Court, San Tan Justice Court, San Marcos Justice Court, University Lakes Justice Court, or Gilbert Municipal Court. If any of these courts are listed, let our Gilbert reckless driving lawyer help you. Our seasoned attorneys know these courts well and have helped numerous clients navigate their cases.
Why Choose Us for Your Criminal Reckless Driving Case in Phoenix?
When it comes to your case on criminal reckless driving in Phoenix, there are countless compelling reasons to choose Brandon White Law for skilled legal representation.
Here are only some key benefits of working with us:
- Extensive legal experience: Our team has comprehensive knowledge of Arizona's traffic laws and the intricacies of the criminal justice system, enabling us to build robust defense strategies. We have a wealth of experience in handling criminal reckless driving cases to ensure that your case is in capable hands;
- Proven track record: We have a strong track record of achieving favorable outcomes for our clients, with successful defenses in reckless driving cases;
- Personalized attention: We understand the unique aspects of each case and provide personalized attention to every client, tailoring our approach to suit their needs.
By choosing Brandon White Law, you can trust that your criminal case will be handled with skill, dedication, and a commitment to achieving the best possible outcome for you.
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The arraignment date is simply the date on which you'll enter a plea. If you hire an attorney before your arraignment date, your attorney will file paperwork with the court entering a “not guilty” plea. The court will then vacate, or cancel, your arraignment date and set a new date for a pretrial conference.
The pretrial conference is often the first opportunity for your attorney to meet with the prosecutor in your case to discuss settlement and request information (known as discovery) that may be useful in defending against the charge. Sometimes, not much happens before the initial pretrial conference. This is because the rules of criminal procedure in a misdemeanor case require the prosecutor to do very little before that initial pretrial conference. You can expect that there will be several pretrial conferences, usually occurring about 30 days apart.
Before your initial pretrial conference, we will send discovery requests to the prosecutor seeking to get information that may be helpful to your case. We'll continue the discovery process until we have all the available relevant information. Things we might seek include the officer’s narrative, on-body camera video, dash camera video, and anything else we think is relevant.
After we've finished the discovery process, we may submit a written request to the prosecution asking them to deviate from the charge. In other words, we may ask them to offer a plea for something less, like two civil violations such as speeding and unsafe lane change. This request will present your background and good character, and depending on what we've learned during the discovery process, ideally, we can make a factual argument too.
Resolution – Plea Agreement or Trial
Pretrial conferences will continue to occur until either a settlement has been reached, or until it's apparent that no settlement can be reached and all relevant information has been obtained from the prosecutor, at which point the case will be set for trial. If we can reach an agreement, the court will generally conduct a change of plea hearing to formally resolve the case by way of a plea agreement.
Regular Phoenix DUI or DWI
A regular DUI is considered driving with a BAC of 0.08-0.14% or driving with a controlled substance in your bloodstream.
- Undergoing a substance abuse screening assessment;
- Completing substance abuse treatment program;
- Serving 10 consecutive days in jail and payin g jail costs;
- An additional 9 days in jail will be suspended if the substance abuse program is completed;
- $250 fine plus any surcharge;
- $500 State Prison Construction and $500 State General Fund payments.