We have had clients that were charged with the crime of reckless driving for trivial driving behavior. You would think reckless driving sounds like the driver is swerving in and out of lanes and going 20-30 miles over the speed limit. It seems however that most of the cases that we help defend deal with a lot less menacing behavior behind the wheel, like not providing a sufficient signal when turning, or obstruction of traffic, or mistakenly driving the wrong way on one of the many one-way streets in New York City. You would think that these mistakes on the road would require at most a warning or a simple moving violation, but a criminal charge? Let’s face it – the system is not perfect but some things are just ridiculous.
New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1212 outlines what constitutes reckless driving in New York. The statute is pretty broad and encompasses a wide range of driving behavior which means that you can be charged with reckless driving for just about anything. As noted before reckless driving is a crime in New York, it will result in 5 points against your license and also a $300 fine with an $85 surcharge. A reckless driving conviction will be a part of your permanent criminal record as well and cannot be expunged. In addition you can expect your insurance rates to increase when your insurance provider sees that you have a reckless conviction on your record.
Over the last year or so police officers in New York have been handing out reckless driving tickets like candy. For the most part it’s unclear why drivers are being charged with a crime when their behavior doesn’t seem to be criminal to begin with. However over the last month or so there have been several drivers that have hit people on sidewalks and are not being prosecuted.
Three of the pedestrians that were hit have dies and two were seriously injured, with one of the drivers admitting that they had tried to pick up a carton of milk that fell on the floor while he was driving. Reckless driving means that the driver needs to be aware of the potential risk of certain behavior behind the wheel and disregard it to know that they will put the lives of other people in danger.
When you think about these cases, it makes you think whether or not justice is being served on the streets of New York. In many cases you have drivers that make simple mistakes behind the wheel being charged with a crime and in others you have actual fatalities from driver behavior with no prosecutors willing to prosecute the matter.