It’s no big secret that there are less-than-safe drivers on the road. Still, some drivers go above and beyond mere lack of safety, with their driving patterns and behaviors warranting the label of “recklessness.”
But what exactly is reckless driving, and can it lead to grounds for a successful lawsuit? In this detailed article, we’ll explore the answers to these questions and more.
What Is Reckless Driving in New York?
Reckless driving involves unreasonably aggressive or dangerous driving, so you might think that you “know it when you see it.” However, according to New York State law, driving counts as reckless when it:
- Unreasonably interferes with the use of a public highway; OR
- Unreasonably endangers pedestrians, cyclists, or other drivers
In this sense, what constitutes reckless driving can vary from case to case. It’s usually left up to police officers’ judgment and court decisions. Reckless driving is highly context-dependent. What might count as reckless driving in one area might not count as reckless driving in another because of factors like the number of pedestrians nearby, whether the person had a good reason to be speeding, and more.
Still, there are some common factors that are present in almost every reckless driving case. These include:
- Driving at high or unsafe speeds (as determined by the local speed limit)
- Driving dangerously around people or other vehicles
- Driving in a manner that obstructs or endangers the safe use of the road by other members of the public
Note: Because reckless driving can be context-dependent, you may not know whether you are guilty of reckless driving or if another driver is guilty of it.
What Are Examples Of Reckless Driving In New York?
Let’s take a look at specific examples of reckless driving you might encounter in New York:
- If you drive off the road while going at an excessive speed or don’t make any effort to slow down in the presence of pedestrians
- Driving through debris, like police barricades or construction cones
- Driving onto an exit ramp for a freeway, then making a U-turn across several lanes of traffic
- Crossing centerlines into the path of oncoming traffic
- Using drugs or alcohol before getting behind the wheel may also count as reckless driving. Note: Technically, any type of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol could be construed as reckless.
Here, it is also important to note that simply speeding or driving dangerously does not automatically constitute reckless driving, per se. For example, if you are speeding to get a pregnant person to the hospital quickly, you might not be convicted of reckless driving if you were not endangering other drivers (although you might still be saddled with a speeding ticket). Additionally, it is worth knowing that federal drivers may also be exempt from prosecution in this regard (but not always).
If you or a loved one isn’t sure whether you may be convicted of reckless driving, please contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers right away online or at 516-342-2200. Our experienced attorneys can help you fully understand the intricacies of reckless driving accusations and potentially defend you from unfair court cases. The last thing you want is to be wrongfully convicted of reckless driving and subject to various penalties.
What Are The Penalties For Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving can result in serious penalties upon conviction. In point of fact, you or someone else convicted of reckless driving could face potential consequences, such as:
- A mark on your criminal record. As a misdemeanor offense, a conviction for reckless driving could cause a driver to have a permanent criminal record, which can make it more difficult to acquire employment, maintain one’s driver’s license, and so on.
- Jail time. Those convicted of reckless driving may spend up to (30) days in jail for a first offense. They may then spend up to (90) days or (180) days in jail for second and third offenses, respectively.
- Heavy fines and monetary penalties. New York reckless driving convictions usually carry fines of $100 to $300 for first offenders. Those fines usually increase to up to $525 or up to $1125 for second and third convictions.
- Surcharges, such as reckless driving convictions, are usually accompanied by convictions for speeding tickets or other traffic violations.
- Points on your driving record. For a first-time conviction of reckless driving, the New York DMV typically assigns five (5) points to your driving record.
- Increases to auto insurance premiums and fees. Those convicted of reckless driving may pay much more in terms of auto insurance, which is necessary to maintain a driver’s license and legally drive in the state of New York.
- Long-term risk of license suspension. Repeat convictions of reckless driving, or reckless driving in conjunction with other convictions and penalties, could cause someone to lose their driver’s license entirely.
Reckless driving is a very serious offense, so it’s important to have skilled defensive attorneys on your side if you are accused of this crime. The right legal team can show that you were not speeding or driving recklessly, even if you and someone else were involved in a terrible accident.
Reckless Driving Is A Criminal Offense
As noted above, reckless driving is technically a criminal defense. As a misdemeanor, reckless driving can stay on your record for quite a long time compared to a typical traffic ticket. Therefore, it’s a good idea to contact knowledgeable defense attorneys like Schwartzapfel Lawyers right away online or at 516-342-2200 if you believe you may be convicted of reckless driving when you shouldn’t be.
However, because reckless driving is a criminal offense, a person convicted of it might be more vulnerable to a lawsuit as well. For instance, if you and a loved one are injured in an auto accident with a reckless driver, the fact that they are accused of reckless driving may prove sufficient grounds for a lawsuit so you can recover damages.
Is Reckless Driving Cause For A Lawsuit?
In some cases, reckless driving alone can be cause for a lawsuit. However, reckless driving accusations are not the same as proving guilt for an accident and associated injuries.
Instead, you should think of reckless driving as a potential legal springboard that you and knowledgeable attorneys can use to bring accusations of fault to bear against another New York driver. This is valuable because, as a no-fault state, New York laws make it difficult to sue at-fault drivers, even in the best of circumstances.
However, if you were severely injured and the other driver in an accident is proven to have been driving recklessly, that could be enough to convince the court that you are entitled to damages to pay for your medical bills.
What Damages Can You Recover From a Reckless Driver?
Any damages you receive from a successful auto accident lawsuit are contingent on:
- The extent and severity of your injuries
- The medical bills and other economic damages you might have experienced
- Your level of fault in the incident (Note: Under pure comparative negligence rules, you might be held partially at fault for your injuries and damages, which can reduce the overall monetary award you receive)
Still, if your lawsuit is successful, you could recover damages for:
- Any past and future medical bills that are related to the accident in your injuries
- Further financial compensation for physical and emotional pain or discomfort
- Monetary compensation for loss of income if you were or are unable to work because of your injuries
- Compensation for loss of ability if your injuries were sufficiently debilitating or disfiguring (e.g., you suffer a paralysis because of your accident)
- And beyond!
To learn more about the potential damages you can receive from a successful lawsuit, contact the skilled New York auto accident attorneys at Schwartzapfel Lawyers at the earliest opportunity by calling 516-342-2200 or visiting us online.
Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today
Reckless driving is a criminal offense, and if you or a loved one are injured as a result of someone else’s reckless driving, you could have sufficient grounds for a lawsuit. With the assistance of knowledgeable attorneys, you could recover financial compensation to pay for medical bills, lost income, and so much more.
To that end, Schwartzapfel Lawyers is ready and willing to help. Our experienced auto accident attorneys have seen it all and can break down your legal options, offer legal counsel, and represent you successfully in court.
Call us at 516-342-2200 or visit us online to schedule your free case evaluation now!
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this page should be considered legal advice. You should seek the appropriate counsel your situation requires. For more information, call 1-516-342-2200 now!