What Constitutes Reckless Driving in Pennsylvania?

reckless drivingHave you ever been driving on the highway when a vehicle suddenly appears in your rear-view mirror at top speed, weaving in and out of traffic and then zipping past you in a cloud of dust?  If so, you probably felt fortunate to have avoided an accident, and wished that a police officer had been nearby. What you witnessed may have seemed like an obvious case of reckless driving, but the truth is that the definition of that particular offense is not as clear as it should be. The state of Pennsylvania has made reckless driving a crime of intent or state of mind rather than fitting a specific violation.

Getting into an accident while driving can lead to a reckless driving charge, but that’s not always the case. Because reckless or careless driving are elements of criminal law, there needs to be significant proof of additional wrongdoing such as texting and driving or driving while under the influence. The charge does not specifically address an action such as driving too fast or breaking traffic laws: instead it says that reckless driving occurs “when an individual drives their vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other people or property.”

If you’ve been charged with reckless driving this focus on intent can work to your benefit. Intent is a very difficult thing to prove. It is entirely subjective and open to interpretation. The best that a prosecutor can do is to try to infer what was in a driver’s mind as they were operating their vehicle, and a skilled and experienced criminal law attorney can argue against their opinion. Because conviction on these charges has significant negative consequences, including driving points that lead to higher insurance premiums, high fines, and even a suspension of your driver’s license, it is essential that if charged with reckless driving, you protect yourself by speaking with a criminal law attorney today.

We can help you navigate the complexities of these charges, and tell a compelling story that explains what happened from your point of view. Our law firm will give you a voice and protect you from the penalties that come with a reckless driving charge in Pennsylvania. For more information on how we can help, contact us today to set up an appointment.