Reckless Driving in Pennsylvania
Reckless and careless driving charges in Pennsylvania can have serious consequences for those who are convicted. They are considered criminal misdemeanors and can involve imprisonment, loss of license, fines and points on a Pennsylvania driver license. There are other consequences of a conviction for either of these charges: a driver’s insurance costs can sky rocket afterwards. It makes sense, if you have been charged with careless or reckless driving in Pennsylvania, to seek the assistance of a York PA defense attorney, who may be able to get your charge dismissed or the sentence reduced.
The determination of careless or reckless driving is often a subjective affair as the charge depends on an assessment of what was going on in a driver’s mind when observed driving or before an accident in which they were involved. One benefit of this often difficult judgment is that the prosecution’s case against the person accused of these offenses can be challenged more easily by a competent and skilful defense attorney.
The Difference Between Careless and Reckless Driving
These two terms are often used interchangeably in everyday speech, but in Pennsylvania law mean two different offenses.
Careless driving is regarded as driving in which the driver acts negligently, or carelessly, but without any intention to harm anything or anybody. A good example of a careless driver is one who has been distracted by somebody walking down a sidewalk while driving and as a result has an accident or drives in such a manner as to endanger other people’s lives.
Reckless driving is a more serious offense as it implies that the driver knowingly goes out to drive in a dangerous or reckless manner, without regard to the consequences. Someone who deliberately drives well above the speed limit through crowded city streets is likely to be considered a reckless driver as is a truck driver who deliberately tailgates a saloon car a few yards in front.
It is very common in this state for careless or reckless driving charges to be brought against a driver who is using their cell phone to talk to someone else or even use it to text.
Penalties for Careless and Reckless Driving
Anyone convicted of either of these charges will face a misdemeanor. The conviction is punished by a possible period in county jail as well as a fine and a period in which the license is suspended. The convicted driver will also gain points on his or her license. The exact penalties depend on whether it was careless or reckless driving, whether anyone was injured or even killed in an accident caused by that driver and whether it was a first or repeat offense.
Typical fines for careless or reckless driving are $200 to $250 with the amount going up if someone has died in an accident caused by the careless / reckless driver. In addition, either offense can mean up to 90 days in a county jail as well as a driver license suspension of up to 6 months.
Insurance companies will pounce on anyone convicted of either of these charges as they will consider that it implies greater risk. Insurance costs are usually calculated according to perceived risk, so if you are considered “low risk” you will generally pay less insurance costs. If you have been convicted of a careless or reckless driving charge, especially if someone is seriously injured or is killed, then you can expect your insurance premium to go up substantially.
If you have been arrested for careless or reckless driving in Pennsylvania, don’t think that the charge is a trivial one. You can be seriously affected by a conviction. Hire a York PA defense attorney to ensure you get the justice you deserve.
Learn about Vehicular Homicide in Pennsylvania next.