19 Jun What Constitutes Reckless Driving in Pennsylvania?
Recall a time when you were driving down the Pennsylvania state highway during rush hour. You then became startled by a fast passerby who was aggressively weaving in and out of traffic. Although there were no law enforcement officials around, his/her actions can certainly be deemed as reckless. However, what constitutes as “reckless driving” in the state of Pennsylvania is quite ambiguous and difficult to prove.
The Pennsylvania state law defines “reckless driving” as operating a vehicle “…in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” The law is violated when a driver
- increases the probability of a serious accident or
- is aware of the situation but disregards the risk of their act.
Convicted drivers of reckless driving (w/o serious bodily injury to others) can be given the following penalties:
- up to 90 days in jail
- $200 fine
- 6 month license suspension
However, if the convicted driver causes serious bodily injury, he or she can be convicted of aggravated assault by vehicle—a 3rd degree felony—which can lead to up to 7 years in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000.
Now, Pennsylvania also has a separate offense called “careless driving,” which is a lesser offense of reckless driving; if convicted, the driver can face the following penalties:
- Up to 90 days in jail
- Maximum fine of $300 (w/o causing serious bodily injuries)
- Fixed fine of $250 as a result to causing serious bodily injuries or a $500 fine if death occurred
What should you do if you are charged with reckless driving?
Rulings vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and what truly constitutes whether a driver has performed reckless driving is based on intent (was this act intended, or purposely done?). In fact, in the courtroom, the prosecutor’s rulings are truly subjective. The charge does not state any specifics (i.e. fast driving or avoiding traffic laws) on what grounds can be enforced that could potentially convict a driver for his or her situation. Therefore, focusing on intent in the courtroom can be of great benefit to you.
Having an attorney represent and advocate for you increases the chances of a more favorable case outcome. If you have been arrested or charged with reckless driving in the state of Pennsylvania, contact The Cochran Firm Philadelphia today.