What is Reckless Driving?
Reckless Driving is a driving-related offense. Often times it is negotiated as a reduced charge from a DUI arrest by a lawyer. However, in some cases, it can be charged as its own offense.
Definition of Reckless Driving
RCW 46.61.500(1) Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. Violation of the provisions of this section is a gross misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to three hundred sixty-four days and by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars.
Does a Reckless Driving charge carry any license consequences?
As stated above often times Reckless Driving will be negotiated as part of a plea deal to lower a DUI charge to this lesser offense. Because it is considered a better offense it does not carry many of the consequences a DUI conviction would carry which is why many lawyers consider this an ideal resolution to a DUI arrest.
One of the many benefits of Reckless Driving is that it does not carry a lengthy license suspension. A reckless driving conviction carries a 30-day driver’s license suspension. However if an individual is offered this charge as part of a reduced plea deal, and their driver’s license was suspended administratively by the Department of Licensing than a Reckless Driving conviction would carry no additional suspension, and the 30 days would be credited towards the administrative suspension. Regarding this issue, it is best to speak with a Lawyer to determine whether this credit would apply in a particular case.
What options do you have if your license gets suspended because of a Reckless Driving charge?
Let’s say your driver’s license was suspended for 30 days due to a Reckless Driving conviction. You have two options regarding your ability to drive a motor vehicle in the State of Washington. You can choose to sit out the 30 days and not drive. Or you can apply for a restricted license which would allow you to drive during the 30 days. Depending on what the original offense was for would determine the type of restricted license an individual would be eligible for.
If an individual was originally charged with Reckless Driving and they plead guilty as charged or were convicted following trial then they would be eligible for an occupational restricted license. This would allow the individual to drive to and from work. Although the number of miles and hours a person can drive are limited.
If an individual was originally charged with a DUI and the charge was reduced to Reckless Driving then they are required to apply for the Occupational Restricted License described above and they have to apply for the Ignition Interlock License. The ignition interlock license would require a functioning ignition interlock device be installed in any vehicle the individual drives and it would need to be installed for the 30 day period.
What kind of insurance is required for Reckless Driving?
Unfortunately, if you’re convicted of a Reckless Driving charge then you are required to carry SR22 insurance as a condition of your driver’s license.
Does a Reckless Driving charge carry an ignition interlock requirement?
There are only two instances when a Reckless Driving conviction could carry the possibility of an ignition interlock requirement. First, if the original charge was a DUI offense that was reduced to Reckless Driving and you have a prior within the last 7 years. Then an ignition interlock device will be required for at least 6 months. Secondly as discussed above if the Reckless Driving was originally a DUI that was reduced, and there was no administrative suspension then to drive during the 30-day suspension an ignition interlock license will be required for those 30 days.
What is better a Reckless Driving charge or a DUI?
Reckless Driving is much better than a DUI conviction. For one it does not typically carry the ignition interlock requirements. It does not carry mandatory jail and fines. The license suspension is considerably less than a DUI conviction. In addition, Reckless Driving can potentially be vacated off of one’s record, although nowadays that possibility is becoming less and less likely.
Will Reckless Driving prevent you from entering Canada?
This is a tricky area of the law. Technically a Reckless Driving conviction in Washington State can prevent you from entering into Canada. Although an experienced lawyer will know some ways to minimize that possibility and try to make it as safe as possible. It is always best to consult an attorney before making any final decisions especially if international travel plays a factor.