If you were recently involved in a car accident and sustained serious injury, you may be wondering what sort of charges the negligent party will face. Despite the seriousness of the accident and the disregard for your and other road users’ well-being, they might not be facing a very serious charge. What we may perceive as recklessness, may actually just be carelessness in the eyes of the legal system. Regardless of the charge, if you have been injured in a California car accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney today to discuss the legal options available to you.
Reckless Driving in the State of California
California law (vehicle code 23103) describes reckless driving as, “A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” To make sense of this, willful or wanton essentially mean intentional or deliberate, which makes a charge of reckless driving more difficult to ascribe than a charge of carelessness. Recklessness, when someone is not injured or killed, can carry a charge of up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in the state of California. The penalties a reckless driver faces rise if they caused serious bodily harm or a fatality. While it takes four points on a driver’s license in the span of 12 months for a court judge to revoke a license, reckless driving, which counts as two points, can mean the loss of a driver’s license regardless of points. A judge can suspend a negligent driver’s license in the following circumstances, regardless of points, according to the DMV:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI);
- Failing to stop at a railway crossing;
- Driving above the posted speed limit;
- Reckless driving;
- Road rage, which is assault of a driver, cyclist, or pedestrian on a highway;
- Committing a felony or misdemeanor; and
- Fleeing a police officer.
A reckless driving charge can come from excessive speeding, swerving, weaving in and out of traffic, street racing, doing donuts, illegally passing school buses, and other scenarios that display lack of care or regard for the lives of other road users. However, in most cases, a charge of carelessness will be issued. Carelessness, which is a much lesser charge, can also come from speeding, swerving, failure to yield, becoming distracted, and various other circumstances that are equally as dangerous to other road users. Officers, district attorneys, and judges are less likely to charge a dangerous driver with recklessness; however, your settlement or court trial from a civil lawsuit will not likely be affected if the charge is the lesser, careless driving charge. If the other party is proven to be negligent, you will have a solid case in which you may be able to receive compensation for your pain and suffering, medical costs, lost wages, and property damage. If you have been injured by a careless or reckless driver, contact one of our experienced California car accident attorneys today at The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers for legal advice.