Under Washington law, reckless driving is not just a simple traffic ticket; it is a serious criminal offense. Despite how minor it may initially seem, reckless driving can affect you for years, cost you thousands of dollars in fines and surcharges, license suspension, and even jail time. And, as a criminal charge, your criminal record will be something that can follow you potentially for life.Charged with a crime in Washington? Call now. (888) 205-9314.
We can help you avoid some of the long term consequences by providing you with experienced legal defense counsel.
A conviction for either reckless driving or negligent driving in these types of cases can affect your immediate driving privileges and your driving record for a number of years. This can make insurance unaffordable and difficult to come by.
We have experience successfully defending clients accused of driving offenses like these. We can make sure your rights are protected and your interests looked after at every stage of the criminal process.
Washington Reckless Driving – Laws & Penalties
Reckless driving is defined by Washington state statute as driving a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of people or property. Driving at high rates of speed or erratically may qualify as reckless driving.
If you are convicted of reckless driving, a gross misdemeanor, you could serve up to one year in jail along with fines of up to $5,000. Your driver’s license will also be suspended for at least 30 days.
Ref: RCW 46.61.500
Embracing Another While Driving
A little known statute that is considered a criminal traffic offense under WA reckless driving statues, you may be charged with reckless driving if you are caught with another person in your embrace “which prevents the free and unhampered operation of such vehicle”.
There are many imaginable scenarios (that we won’t describe here) where this statute could apply. It is sufficient to say that any situation where you are not in full control of your vehicle, or are otherwise dangerously distracted could result in a criminal reckless driving charge.
Ref: RCW 46.61.665
WA Racing & Reckless Driving Laws
With its growth in popularity has come a growth in prosecution. Because of the dangerous nature of racing, Washington prosecutors take this charge seriously, as do the judges. Racing is defined as willfully comparing or contesting speeds by operation of one or more vehicles regardless of speed.
Racing is charged under reckless driving, so is also a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, fines up to $5,000, and suspension of your driver’s license.
Washington State Negligent Driving Laws
Negligent Driving – First Degree
You may be charged with first degree negligent driving if you are caught operating a vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property, and exhibits the effects of having consumed liquor or an illegal drug.
Yes, this means you can be charged with a criminal offense after drinking one sip of alcohol. If an officer can smell alcohol on your breath or if you seem intoxicated but are below the legal limit of .08, you may be charged with negligent driving instead of a DUI.
Negligent driving in the first degree is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $1,000.
Ref: RCW 46.61.5249
Negligent Driving- Second Degree
Negligent driving in the second degree is slightly less severe than negligent driving in the first degree, but can still carry fines. You may be charged with this infraction if you are found in operation of a vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property.
Under Washington law, infractions such as these carry fines up to $200 and typically no jail time.
Ref: RCW 46.61.525
Free Consultation on Washington State Reckless and Negligent Driving Offenses
Some driving offenses are more serious than others. When you are facing criminal charges that could carry jail time, an experienced WA attorney can be critical to the best outcome in court. Call for a consultation on your Washington reckless driving or negligent driving case today.