Reckless driving means driving in a way that shows a total disregard for safety. It can be charged in addition to DUI or used as a plea bargain in a California DUI case.
Reckless driving is one of the more serious offenses covered by the California Vehicle Code. It’s also one that’s closely tied to DUI cases in California. The law defines reckless driving as driving “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” If you were driving in an unsafe manner when you were pulled over for DUI, you could be charged with reckless driving as well.
Many types of behavior can count as reckless driving. Some common examples include:
- Swerving from lane to lane on a highway
- Driving in the oncoming traffic lane
- Completely blowing through a traffic light at high speed
- Ignoring multiple stop signs
- Driving on the sidewalk or speeding in a crowded area
The penalties for reckless driving are not minor. They are much more serious than just a speeding ticket, and include 5 to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Penalties are worse if someone was hurt.
But as severe as these penalties are, they’re far less serious than a DUI. For this reason, a good DUI lawyer will often work to get your DUI charged reduced to reckless driving as part of a plea bargain. If this is successful, the DUI could be dropped and converted to a simple reckless driving charge. This could allow you to keep your license, keep drunk driving off your record, and dramatically reduce how much your DUI costs you.
Under these circumstances reckless driving may be charges as either wet reckless (one that explicitly involves alcohol) or dry reckless (one that does not). Most DUI plea bargains will be for wet reckless.
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