Some traffic tickets can affect much more than just your insurance rates. One example is reckless driving, which is a Class A criminal misdemeanor in Illinois (the legal equivalent of a DUI and speeding more than 35 mph over the posted limit).
A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that would result in a permanent criminal record if you are convicted. It could affect your employment and areas of your life.
What is reckless driving?
Illinois defines reckless driving as driving a motor vehicle with “with a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of people or property.” Actions that can lead to a reckless driving charge include:
- Using an incline such as a railroad crossing to cause your vehicle to become airborne.
- Driving excessively fast or racing.
- Changing lanes erratically.
The penalties for reckless driving include up to one year in jail and a fine up to $2,500. The court may also sentence you to probation, supervision or conditional discharge. Depending on your record, your driver’s license may also be suspended or revoked in the discretion of the Illinois Secretary of State.
Do I have a defense?
What constitutes reckless driving is often subjective. Just because a police offer charged you with reckless driving does not mean that the state can prove it. An experienced defense attorney may be able to reduce the reckless driving charge to a lesser traffic offense, such as speeding.
Whenever you face consequences such as jail time and a permanent criminal record, you should hire a lawyer to represent you in court. People who represent themselves in traffic court are far less likely to obtain a favorable outcome.