If you were charged with reckless driving in Texas, it is critical reaching out to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The consequences of a reckless driving conviction are serious, and it is important to fight back against the charges aggressively.
What is Reckless Driving in Texas?
Reckless driving is a criminal offense in Texas. Transportation Code §545.401 defines reckless driving as driving a vehicle in “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” “Willful or wanton disregard” means that you made a conscious choice, and you knew or should have known that your actions would likely result in harm. You are acting with indifference to others’ safety.
In Texas, you can be charged with reckless driving if you are driving on public roads and private properties if they are open to the general public, such as a parking lot in a shopping mall. You cannot be convicted of reckless driving if you were on private residential property.
What Are Examples of Reckless Driving in Texas?
The legal definition of reckless driving is broad and covers a wide range of conduct. Some common examples of reckless driving in Texas include:
- Operating a vehicle at an excessive or dangerous speed;
- Running stop signs or traffic lights;
- Street racing;
- Ramming, sideswiping, or forcing another driver off the road;
- Texting while driving;
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Passing over a double yellow line on a highway;
- Failing to yield the right of way to other cars, bicycles, or pedestrians;
- Failing to stop for a school bus; and
- Evading law enforcement
What are the Penalties for Reckless Driving in Texas?
In Fort Bend, reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $200 and/or a maximum of thirty days in county jail. There is no minimum fine or jail time. Whether or not you have to serve jail time depends on the severity of your actions and the specific facts of your case.
In addition to fines and jail time, you will receive points on your driving record. In Texas, two points are awarded for any moving violation, including reckless driving. Three points are awarded for violations that result in a crash. The accumulation of points can result in surcharges and the suspension of your driver’s license, as well as increased insurance premiums. Points remain on your record for three years following the conviction date.
If you injured a person or caused property damage, you could face a civil lawsuit in addition to criminal charges. Among other damages, you could be held liable for property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
What are Defenses for Reckless Driving in Texas?
Various defenses can be raised in reckless driving cases. Your defense strategy will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Examples of potential defenses include:
- Challenging the State’s Evidence. The state has to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney can challenge the state’s evidence, so they are unable to meet this burden. For example, if your charge is related to excessive speeding, your attorney can argue that the radar gun was not calibrated recently.
- Your Actions Were Not Reckless. You cannot be convicted of reckless driving if you only acted negligently. The state must prove that you knew or should have known that your actions were likely to cause substantial harm.
- Mistake of Fact. The mistake of fact defense can be used when there was a reasonable mistake, and the defendant did not have the requisite intent to break the law. For example, you were honestly and reasonably mistaken about the speed you were driving, because your speedometer was not calibrated.
- Necessity is an affirmative defense that may apply when the defendant commits a criminal act during an emergency to prevent greater harm from happening. For example, if you were driving aggressively because a loved one required immediate medical treatment.
An aggressive defense prepared by an experienced Fort Bend criminal defense attorney will get you the best possible outcome in your reckless driving case.
Your Fort Bend Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one is facing reckless driving charges, you should reach out to a qualified Sugar Land criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Adam Capetillo is a Fort Bend County native who will protect your rights and provide a skilled and aggressive defense. Call Capetillo Law Firm today for a free consultation.