Do I Need an Attorney After Being Charged with Reckless Driving in Massachusetts?
Facing a reckless driving charge in Massachusetts is a serious problem which can leave a driver facing the loss of their driving privileges as well as potential jail time. Reckless drivers often cause accidents. Even when an accident does not involve another vehicle, a driver may face a reckless driving charge, as one driver found out after he allegedly drove his SUV through the front of an Apple Store in Massachusetts..
What is Reckless Driving?
When someone operates a motor vehicle in a manner which puts others at risk, they may be charged with reckless driving. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24(2)(a) is written in a manner which gives law enforcement a great deal of discretion in deciding what type of behavior can result in these charges.
Drivers who are operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, weaving in and out of traffic, engaging in aggressive driving, or ignoring traffic signals may face reckless driving charges. Drivers should always be aware that reckless driving charges may be filed even in the absence of an accident. In fact, a driver who is stopped at a sobriety checkpoint and found to be under the influence could face reckless driving charges.
Why You Should Have An Attorney for A Reckless Driving Charge
Any criminal charges which are being faced by someone demand the involvement of an attorney. Those who are facing reckless driving charges are no exception. Hiring a lawyer can help protect a defendant’s rights. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer when someone is facing reckless driving charges is important because most people have no intimate knowledge of how the criminal justice system works. Hiring a lawyer when facing a reckless driving charge allows a defendant some of the following:
- Having a complete understanding of the charges they are facing
- Gaining a deeper understanding of the potential penalties they are facing
- Allowing an attorney to investigate the charges the defendant is facing
- Allowing an attorney to mount a defense on their behalf
The charge of reckless driving should not be taken lightly, even when there is no evidence that the defendant’s behavior caused an accident or injury. An attorney can mount an aggressive defense after understanding the root of the charges and may be able to have the charges dismissed.
Potential Penalties or Fines For Reckless Driving Charges In Massachusetts
Massachusetts takes reckless driving charges seriously. In some cases, the defendant may be facing multiple charges including reckless driving. Getting a criminal defense lawyer involved right away may be helpful in getting charges reduced or eliminated. Some of the penalties and fines someone may be facing include:
- Mandatory license suspensions — if someone is convicted of reckless driving, they could be facing a mandatory suspension of their right to operate a motor vehicle for 60 days at a minimum.
- Imposition of fines — motorists who are convicted of reckless driving could face fines of up to $200. This may be in addition to other compensation if another driver is involved in an accident as a result of reckless behavior.
- Jail time — someone who is convicted of reckless driving may face jail time of up to two years. This is in addition to other time that may be required because of other charges they are facing.
- Insurance rate increase – someone who is convicted of the misdemeanor charge of reckless driving may have to deal with an increase in their auto insurance premiums.
Every reckless driving case is different. Someone who has a driving record which shows prior violations could be facing steeper fines, longer jail time, and other penalties. Any charge of reckless driving requires a defense lawyer who will help the defendant fight a conviction.
Benefits Of Hiring An Experienced Lawyer
Reckless driving is a serious charge, even when there is no resulting accident or injuries. Hiring an experienced lawyer is important because it helps the defendant present a defense to the charge. An experienced lawyer will explain that the prosecutor in a reckless driving case must prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.
In Massachusetts, to prove a reckless driving charge, a prosecutor must demonstrate that the operator knew of the danger, or should have known of the danger their behavior could cause, that they were aware and indifferent that such behavior could result in injury or death to another person. This is a relatively high standard to meet.
An experienced attorney may be able to argue some of the following:
- The driver did not have a history of reckless driving
- The driver’s behavior was not reckless
- That a reasonable person would have acted in a similar manner given the situation (common when an emergency caused someone to speed)
In some cases, a citation is issued to a driver for reckless driving. The citation typically has a date at which the defendant must appear before a judge to defend themselves. The best possible way to defend against these charges is to make sure a criminal defense attorney who is accustomed to dealing with these charges is handling the plea.
In some instances, an attorney may be able to get a Continuance Without Finding (CWOF). This would mean that assuming there were no additional violations, the charges would be dropped and the person who was charged with reckless driving would not face the loss of their driving privileges.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney When Facing Reckless Driving Charges
Anyone who is facing a reckless driving charge should not respond to a citation without seeking guidance from a skilled criminal defense attorney. This step could be important to preserving their driver’s license, keeping them out of jail, preventing fines, and stopping any increase in insurance premiums.
No one should ever try to defend themselves when they are facing any type of criminal charge, and this includes a charge of reckless driving. Contacting an attorney is the first step to protecting a defendant’s rights, and making sure that someone is defending them against any charges they are facing. Call Riccio Law at 617-404-8878 to schedule a free consultation.