Reckless Driving in Wagoner Defined
Under Oklahoma law, reckless driving is defined as driving carelessly or wantonly and without regard for the safety of persons or property around you. (Okla. Stat. 47 § 11-901). Carelessly implies a lack of intent. Wantonly implies a clear disregard for the safety of others. A vehicle in the hands of a reckless driver may cause great harm or even death.
Driving laws in all states require drivers to turn their full attention to driving when they are behind the wheel. Anything that distracts a driver can create a dangerous condition. Oklahoma’s reckless driving law covers a number of situations that might put others at risk when someone is behind the wheel.
Because it is a broad law intended to cover unforeseen acts of recklessness along with familiar over-the-top conduct, the statute leaves ample room for police to overcharge. It would not be unheard of for an officer to charge reckless driving because a driver stopped for speeding was argumentative.
Outlandish or obnoxious maneuvers – maybe squealing tires when leaving an intersection or noisily winding out a gear at high RPM without otherwise developing excessive speed — might be seen has hot rodding and charged as reckless driving. Wagoner defense lawyers look at the elements of the crime in context of the alleged violation to determine whether the charge can be contested.
Elements of Reckless Driving
As with all crimes, this crime has elements that must be proven by the prosecution in order to secure a conviction.
These elements are:
- you must be driving;
- a motor vehicle;
- in a careless or wanton manner; and
- in disregard for the safety or persons or property, or in violation of speed limits, or exceeded a speed that a reasonable and prudent person would have considered to be reasonable given the road and traffic conditions, or drove at an excessive speed that a reasonable and prudent person would have considered to be reasonable and proper in order to stop in the clear distance ahead. OUJI-CR 6-32
Excessive speed alone can secure a conviction if the other elements are met. Excessive speed in combination with other factors can also be sufficient. Or any driving that shows disregard for the safety of others or property can be sufficient.
Driving under the influence of any intoxicant can mean a conviction. Medications taken that impair your ability to drive can also lead to a reckless driving conviction. If you want to drink or take a medication that impairs your driving, it is best if someone else drives. A DUI might be pleaded down to a charge of reckless driving, but the penalties both are harsh.
Here are some other examples of driving behaviors that might be charged as reckless driving depending on the severity of the behavior and upon traffic conditions: driving above the speed limit, tailgating, running a stop sign or a red light, weaving in and out of lanes, cutting in front of another car and applying your brakes, if done in a manner that is wanton or careless. The conduct must rise to the level of culpable negligence.
Examples of Reckless Driving
Reckless driving convictions have been upheld in the following situations: an intoxicated driver forcing other drivers off the road, (Wolf v. State, 375 P.2d 283 (Okl. Cr. 1966)); speeding at 100-105 m.p.h. (Matchen v. State, 349 P.2d 28 (Okl. Cr. 1960)); passing other cars in such a way as to force them off the road (Hooper v. State, 348 P.2d 191 (Okl. Cr. 1959)); and being intoxicated and driving 80 m.p.h in a 55 m.p.h. zone, resulting in an accident ( Sullivan v. State, 333 P.2d 591 (Okl. Cr. 1958)).
Penalties For Reckless Driving
The crime is a misdemeanor. A first conviction of reckless driving is punishable by either jail time from 5 to 90 days, a fine between $100 and $500 or a combination of both. The penalties become more harsh with subsequent convictions.
If you are being charged for reckless driving, you don’t want to go it alone. Anytime your liberty is in peril is a great time to call an experienced Wagoner criminal defense lawyer.
Call for a Free Consultation With An Experienced Wagoner Criminal Attorney
For a free consultation with a Wagoner Oklahoma criminal lawyer call the Wirth Law Office – Wagoner at (918) 485-0335 (or toll-free at (888) Wirth-Law). You may request a phone call or emailed response to your legal question using the form at the top right of this page.