New York Reckless Driving Lawyer

Reckless driving is classified as a misdemeanor in New York, which would result in a criminal record should you be convicted. The specific definition of reckless driving in New York is defined below:

Reckless driving shall mean driving or using any motor vehicle, motorcycle or any other vehicle propelled by any power other than muscular power or any appliance or accessory thereof in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway. Reckless driving is prohibited. Every person violating this provision shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

This definition seems simple enough, but some of the terminology is terribly misleading. For example, the legal definition of public highway is quite broad:

A main road or thoroughfare, such as a street, boulevard, or parkway, available to the public for use for travel or transportation”.

Basically, public highway actually means any publicly accessible road, no matter how small.

What Constitutes Reckless Driving in New York?

The conditions that constitute reckless driving are also incredibly broad. Virtually any vehicle with a motor could qualify under the language of this statute, not just a car or a truck.

The provisions that are even more worrisome are the phrases “unreasonably interferes” and “unreasonably endangers”. Beginning the question, “what type of interference is considered to be unreasonable?”

The initial interpretations will be made by the officer who stops you. Just because you are issued a ticket doesn’t mean you will be found guilty of it, but the broadness of the reckless driving statute gives officers considerable leeway to justify the issuance of this ticket, and an infringement on your rights.

Unreasonable Endangerment in New York

Regarding unreasonably endangerment, this creates a potentially laughable scenario where some forms of endangerment are permissible, so long as they aren’t unreasonable. New York courts have provided some clarification on how to determine these broad standards.

In People v. Goldblatt, (2012), the Court referred to numerous cases and sources, and made the following determination for the standards of unreasonableness:

“Determining whether conduct rises to the level of unreasonable interference or endangerment such that it constitutes the requisite recklessness involves the presence of additional aggravating acts or circumstances beyond a single violation of a rule of the road.”

To illustrate their point, the Court explained that making of an illegal U-Turn would not be considered reckless, but doing so into on-coming, 3-lane traffic would be. Essentially, circumstances dictate how standards of law are applied.

New York Penalties for Reckless Driving

A reckless driving charge can be a considerable headache in terms of penalties and fines.  If convicted, a reckless driving charge will add 5 points to your license. Jail time is also a possibility depending on the severity of your recklessness.The fine for a reckless driving charge for a first time offense is $300 with a mandatory surcharge attached to it; and penalties increase for repeat offenses of reckless driving.

You could also be vulnerable to a steep increase or cancellation of your auto insurance.  Insurance.com conducted a study in 2012 and found that reckless driving increased auto insurance premiums by an average of 22%. This ranked highest out of 14 categories, even beating out a DWI charge at 19%.

Reckless driving is a serious charge that should be handled by an attorney.  If you or someone you know has been convicted of reckless driving, there are options available for you to fight this broad and serious charge.

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