RECKLESS DRIVING IN CONNECTICUT
April 11, 2017
I represent criminal defendants--people who are being prosecuted for breaking the law--throughout Connecticut. Many of my cases are motor vehicle related, which for charges includes DUI, reckless and evading responsibility among other violations. Vehicles are also commonly the subjects of searches in drug and gun cases.
I often tell people that anyone of us can be a defendant. While most criminal activity requires a conscious decision to engage in it, motor vehicle offenses often involve someone unwittingly crossing the line into criminal culpability. Nearly everyone who drives has broken a rule of the road, whether driving above the posted speed limit, not beating a red light or one of many others. Traffic violations are usually infractions, which are not criminal offenses and do not carry the possibility of jail. Sometimes one crosses the line into criminal territory and is charged with reckless driving.
Reckless driving in Connecticut is a crime. It is punishable by up to 30 days in jail for a first offense and up to a year for a subsesquent offense as well as a driver's license suspension. Although many arrests for reckless driving are by summons, which is a written order to go to court (instead of being taken into custody), one does not receive a ticket for reckless driving. It cannot be paid by mail (in this state at least). You must go to court and face more than a fine.
Driving faster than 85 miles per hour in Connecticut is under the statute per se reckless. You should follow the speed limit. If you go above it, you should really stay below 85 for safety reasons and for legal reasons. There are many other ways to be drive recklessly. The legal definition of recklessness as it pertains to motor vehicle laws is to consciously disregard or be indifferent to a known and substantial risk of harm. It is highly open-ended and fact sensitive. I had a had a client who was charged with reckless driving for making a bunch of dicey driving moves on a New Haven street that weren't at a high speed but were certainly dangerous. Another client was involved in a collision in a parking lot (certain parking areas are included in the statute) for what was considered unsafe driving practices. Following P.J. O'Rourke's advice could also lead to reckless driving among other charges.
I've had several reckless charges reduced to traffic infractions. Two of my high speed clients, in Bridgeport and Meriden, were able to pay speeding tickets after I brokered the charges down. That avoided the criminal conviction and license suspension. For some more serious cases, we had to use a program.
Anyone can make a mistake driving. Anyone can be arrested. What you don't want to do is make a mistake in court. If you are charged with reckless driving, please call me for a case evaluation.