Colorado Springs drivers who receive traffic violations often treat them as something not to be too worried about. Plead guilty, pay the fine, maybe attend traffic school, and then move on with your life. This attitude is misguided and can lead to unintended and painful consequences.
This is particularly true for charges of reckless driving. Reckless driving is a serious offense with equally serious penalties that can cost you your freedom to drive as well as your freedom in general. If you are facing reckless driving charges, you will want to avoid a conviction at all costs.
Why Fight a Reckless Driving Charge?
Reckless driving is defined in C.R.E. § 42-4-1401. as driving “in such a manner as to indicate either a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
Any number of dangerous driving behaviors can lead to a reckless driving charge, and if you are charged with speeding 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, you’ll be charged with reckless driving in addition to speeding.
A conviction for Colorado reckless driving is no small matter. It is a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense that carries a possible penalty of between 10 and 90 days in jail and/or fines of between $150 and $300, with harsher penalties for subsequent convictions. Your driving record will take a hit of 8 points for a first offense, and combined with other traffic convictions, can result in a license suspension. A reckless driving conviction is also considered a habitual traffic offender strike. If you are convicted of three major traffic offenses (8 points and above) in a seven-year period, you will lose your driver’s license for five years. If reckless driving resulted in serious injury or death, the consequences will match the seriousness of such a tragic outcome.
How to Beat a Reckless Driving Charge
As with any other criminal charge, Colorado Springs prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense of reckless driving in order to obtain a conviction. As with any other criminal charge, they need solid evidence and credible witnesses in order to prove your guilt.
If the officer based your reckless driving charge in whole or in part on your alleged speeding, a good defense attorney can attack the accuracy of the radar gun the officer used to clock your speed. Such devices are far from perfect and if they are not properly calibrated, recalibrated, and maintained, they can produce incorrect readings.
Also, note that an essential element of reckless driving is “a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.” That is a fairly high standard which means more than a momentary swerve or less than artful lane change. Your defense lawyer can effectively argue that your conduct did not rise to the level required for reckless driving and either defeat the charges entirely or get the charges reduced to the lesser offense of careless driving.
Weak Witness, Dismissed Case
Often, the Colorado Springs police officer who issued the citation for reckless driving may have not actually witnessed the alleged conduct and instead relied on the statements of a witness in deciding to make the charge. The veracity and credibility of such witnesses can and should be challenged.
Sometimes, a witness, such as another driver, may allege that a driver was acting recklessly to cover up their own irresponsible behavior on the road. Just such a scenario happened to one of my clients.
An officer who ticketed my client did not witness the event. The only witness was a woman who told the officer that my client’s allegedly reckless driving almost caused her to wreck her car. My client explained to the officer that he had done nothing wrong and that, in fact, the woman had been the one who was driving in a reckless and dangerous manner. He told the officer that the woman had flipped him off and then driven past him, cutting him off. Upon further questioning by the officer, the woman sheepishly admitted that she did flip him off (something she had forgotten to mention earlier). The officer nevertheless issued a reckless driving citation to my client.
Given the weakness of the witness and her testimony, and our demonstrated readiness to attack her credibility and aggressively defend the case, prosecutors ultimately dropped the charges and my client’s driving record remained clean.
If you’ve been charged with reckless driving in Colorado Springs, don’t make the mistake of treating it like a run-of-the-mill traffic ticket. You have a lot at risk when facing the possibility of a conviction. An experienced Colorado Springs reckless driving defense lawyer can evaluate your case, advise you of your options, and work to either beat the charges or keep the consequences to a minimum.