Under the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, or VTL, “reckless driving” refers to driving in a way that “unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway” or that “unreasonably endanger[s] users of the public highway.” This is an extremely flexible and subjective definition that many a traffic attorney and criminal lawyer must contend with when a client is accused of the misdemeanor crime of Reckless Driving in New York. Reckless Driving, under New York VTL 1212, requires a highly fact-specific and contextual defense to avoid the consequences of a criminal conviction. Have no misgivings. This highly subjective and vague allegation often results in a criminal arrest and, even if you are merely given a citation or summons, will give you a permanent criminal record that can have a huge impact on the rest of your life.VTL 1212: What is the Crime of Reckless Driving
It's clear that, based on the definition of Reckless Driving in New York, all kinds of routine traffic tickets and traffic infractions that would ordinarily not result in criminal charges, can be effectively “elevated” to a crime using this statute. Driving the wrong way down a one-way street can go from a simple traffic ticket, to a criminal charge punishable by 30, 90 or 180 days in jail depending on whether it is a person's first, second or third offense. Penalties can also include fines of up to $300 for a first offense, up to $525 for a second offense, up to $1,125 for a third offense, a mandatory surcharge of $93, and 5 points on your driving record, not to mention the impact of a conviction such as this on insurance rates or the ability to obtain insurance in the first place.
The same can be said of speeding through a stop sign. This may sound to the lay person like one or two traffic tickets, but it can, in fact, be charged as the crime of Reckless Driving in the right circumstances and at the discretion of the police and law enforcement. There are countless similar examples, but the common theme is what most people would consider run of the mill tickets being unexpectedly charged as a crime. With all that goes with a criminal prosecution you cannot be too cautious nor prepared to defend yourself.
In order for a person to be convicted of Reckless Driving, the prosecutor or District Attorney's Office, or judge in the event you agree to have your case heard be a Judicial Hearing Officer such as where you were issued a pink summons to appear at 1 Centre Street (not to be confused with 100 Centre Street in lower Manhattan), must show that you showed a reckless disregard for the safety of others. This standard means that a prosecutor must prove that you were more than just negligent – not understanding the risks and oblivious to any possible consequences. On the other hand, a DA does not have to prove that you intended to cause an accident or unsafe situation. The prosecutor must prove that you were aware of the risks and chose to operate the car dangerously anyway – i.e. recklessness. As mentioned above, this is highly fact-specific and subjective standard, that will require the advice and counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney – a lawyer who is an accomplished litigator who can ensure that your rights are protected and that the prosecution is held to it's burden or proof.
Do not misconstrue the significance of a VTL 1212 conviction in New York. Not a mere traffic infraction nor violation, Reckless Driving is a criminal offense and one that will follow both your driving and personal criminal record wherever you work or live.
Saland Law is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors. The New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law represent clients in Reckless Driving cases and other cases involving DWI or other VTL crimes throughout the New York City and Hudson Valley.
Now region, including Rockland County, Westchester County, Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn.
Call the New York Leaving the Scene of an Incident Lawyers at Saland Law at 212.312.7129 or Contact Us Online to Start Your Criminal Defense Now.
Now region, including Rockland County, Westchester County, Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn region, including Rockland County, Westchester County, Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn.