How is Reckless Driving Handled in Missouri?
Driving recklessly is a criminal offense in Missouri. The charge is “careless and imprudent” driving, and it is usually a Class B misdemeanor. If you’re charged with reckless driving, reach out at once to a Jefferson County traffic lawyer for the representation that you will need.
What is reckless driving? It can’t be determined with a radar gun like speeding, and it can’t be photographed like running through a red light. To be honest, careless and imprudent driving is subjective. It’s determined by the police officer who stops you and by the court that handles your case.
How are careless and imprudent driving cases handled in the State of Missouri? What steps can you take to challenge the charge? For the answers you may need, please continue reading this short introduction to imprudent and careless driving and your legal rights.
What May Be Considered Reckless Driving?
In 2021, more than a thousand traffic fatalities were reported in Missouri. The laws in this state require drivers to operate their vehicles prudently and carefully, at speeds that do not place property or other persons in danger.
To convict you of careless and imprudent driving, the state must demonstrate that you put others in danger. Driving that may be considered reckless in Missouri includes but is not limited to the following driving behaviors:
- cutting other drivers off
- driving too rapidly for weather and road conditions
- failure to stop at stop signs or red lights
- following someone too closely
- using a GPS or phone while driving
- eating, reading, or grooming while driving
- drifting or weaving between lanes
How Are Convictions Penalized?
Careless and imprudent driving is quite serious compared to most traffic offenses. It’s a crime that can put you in jail upon conviction. It is usually charged as a Class B misdemeanor, although if you cause an accident by driving recklessly, it’s a Class A misdemeanor.
Injuries or substantial property damage, however, may prompt more serious criminal charges. If you are convicted of driving carelessly and imprudently, you may expect:
- a considerable fine
- the possibility of time in jail
- points on your driving record
If you have a professional license in Missouri, a careless and imprudent driving conviction may trigger disciplinary action by your state licensing board, and if you’re not a U.S. citizen, a conviction for careless and imprudent driving could prompt a deportation proceeding.
What Else Does Reckless Driving Entail?
Convictions for moving violations in Missouri put penalty points on your driving record, and too many points will trigger a license suspension or revocation. Your car insurance will cost more, and it may not be easy to find or keep a driving job or another job that requires you to drive.
A reckless driving conviction puts four points on your driving record if it’s charged as a state law violation and two points if it’s charged as a municipal law violation. If you receive eight points or more within eighteen months, your license will be suspended for at least thirty days.
If you injure someone while driving recklessly, you could also be named as a defendant in a personal injury case, and if you’re found liable in civil court, you can be ordered to pay for that person’s lost wages, medical bills, personal suffering, pain, and related losses and damages.
How Do Defense Attorneys Handle Reckless Driving Cases?
If you are accused of careless and imprudent driving, consult a Jefferson County traffic attorney at once, and adhere to your attorney’s advice. Your attorney may seek to have the charge dropped or to have the case dismissed, but if that’s not possible, your case may go to trial.
At a careless and imprudent driving trial, jurors will take a number of factors into account when they determine your guilt or innocence, including the visibility, road, weather, and traffic conditions when you allegedly drove carelessly and imprudently.
To win a conviction, the prosecution must prove you knowingly ignored the risk you posed for others by driving recklessly. If your lawyer can convince the jurors that you made only a single driving mistake and had no criminal intentions, a plea bargain might be offered or the case could be dismissed.
When a driver charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Missouri accepts a plea bargain, the charge may be reduced to reckless endangerment, which is also called “wet reckless.” Wet reckless is legally similar to careless and imprudent driving, with comparable penalties for convictions.
When Should You Contact An Attorney?
Don’t even consider acting as your own attorney or negotiating your own plea bargain. Driving carelessly and imprudently is a serious criminal violation in Missouri, so you must be advised and defended by a Jefferson County traffic lawyer who will safeguard your legal rights and bring the matter to its best possible resolution.
If the state can prove you knew (or that you should have known) your imprudent and careless driving put others on the road in danger, you will be convicted, but if your attorney negotiates a plea bargain, you may enter a guilty plea to a lesser charge and then receive a reduced sentence.
Don’t accept a plea deal until you’ve consulted your lawyer. If you’re not guilty, reject any plea arrangement offered by a prosecutor, and then insist on a jury trial. If your case goes to trial, your Jefferson County traffic attorney may offer one of these defenses on your behalf:
- You were not the driver of the vehicle at the time of the reckless driving incident.
- Your driving did not constitute imprudent or careless driving.
- You were acting to avoid an accident (the “necessity” defense).
What Else Should You Know About Reckless Driving?
In Missouri, if you are accused of careless and imprudent driving, your best chance for an acquittal – or for a reduced penalty – is to call a Missouri traffic attorney at the first possible opportunity. You’re innocent until and unless the state can prove that you are guilty.
If you’re facing a careless and imprudent driving charge or any other traffic charge in the greater St. Louis area – now or in the future – don’t just pay the fine.
Instead, contact a Missouri traffic lawyer – as soon as possible – who will fight for your acquittal and fight to keep any points off your driving record.