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Most of the time reckless driving or careless driving charges are brought against a driver after an automobile crash, from texting and driving, or talking on a cell phone while driving. If you have been charged with reckless driving in Pennsylvania, a conviction for this offense can lead to substantial fines, driver’s license suspension and/or points on Pennsylvania’s driving point system. Unlike many criminal offenses, reckless driving focuses on a person’s intent, or state of mind, when they are driving. Therefore, this type of offense tends to be more difficult for the prosecution to prove.
In addition to criminal penalties associated with reckless driving, a conviction for this offense can have negative collateral consequences. Reckless or careless driving charges are typically brought against young male drivers between the ages of 17 and 24. Although these drivers usually already pay high insurance premiums, a conviction for reckless driving or careless driving can dramatically increase their automobile insurance rates for a lengthy period of time.
In order to potentially avoid consequences to a reckless driving charge in West Chester, Pennsylvania, contact an experienced traffic lawyer at the Skinner Law Firm. Michael J. Skinner is knowledgeable in all areas of Pennsylvania’s traffic laws and will make every effort to achieve the best possible outcome for your particular reckless driving offense. Contact the Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 for a consultation about your alleged offense today.
According to 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3736, reckless driving occurs when an individual drives their vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other people or property. A conviction for this charge is a summary offense and can result in a fine of $200.
Willful usually means intentionally, knowingly or purposefully. Wanton is typically defined as a complete indifference to the consequences of one’s actions.
Pennsylvania’s reckless driving law solely focuses on the state of the mind of the driver when they were driving the motor vehicle. It can be difficult for the prosecution to convict a person of reckless driving because the required intent, or state of mind, to commit a reckless driving offense is subjective, which means it is based on the driver’s person beliefs or opinions and not on verifiable facts. However, a driver’s state of mind can be inferred from their actions; for example, if an individual is texting and driving, the required intent for a reckless driving charge may be inferred.
Careless driving in Pennsylvania, as defined in 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3714, occurs when an individual drives a vehicle in careless disregard for the safety of persons or property.
Penalties for careless driving are increased if the alleged offender caused death or serious bodily injury to another person.
Serious bodily injury in Pennsylvania means any bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or causes serious, permanent disfigurement, impairment, or loss of the function of any limb or organ.
In addition to any criminal penalties, the individual who suffered severe body injury will also likely file a civil lawsuit for money damages to compensate for the injuries they suffered.
A conviction for reckless driving can result in a summary offense and a mandatory fine of $200.
A conviction for careless driving in Pennsylvania can result in a summary offense, which is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine not more than $300.
If the individual unintentionally causes the death of another person while carelessly driving, they will be sentenced to pay a mandatory fine of $500.
If the individual causes serious bodily injury to another person while carelessly driving, they will be sentenced to pay a mandatory fine of $250.
Contact the Skinner Law Firm today for a consultation about your alleged driving offense in West Chester or the surrounding areas of Delaware County. Michael J. Skinner is an experienced West Chester traffic violation attorney who will listen to the facts of your particular situation, and help you identify any defenses or mitigating circumstances to your ticket dismissed. Call (610) 436-1410 for a consultation about your ticket or citation today.