Most of the time, when a police officer pulls you over while driving, the worst consequences you face will be a traffic ticket, a fine and possibly higher prices for your insurance coverage when you renew your policy. However, sometimes your behavior while driving can lead to an arrest and actual criminal charges.
People know that the police can arrest them for impaired driving if they go out for a drive after consuming drugs or alcohol. Fewer people realize that reckless driving allegations could also lead to their arrest and to misdemeanor criminal charges instead of just a ticket.
If a police officer believes that your behavior at the wheel puts other people at risk, they might charge you with reckless driving. What constitutes reckless driving under New York law?
How New York defines reckless driving
New York’s traffic laws paint a broad picture of what activities might constitute reckless driving. If your driving habits unreasonably interfere with the ability of other drivers to operate their vehicles, that could constitute reckless driving. Going the wrong way down a one-way street or racing on public roads would both be examples of driving behavior that would interfere with the safe driving of others.
Police officers can also cite you for reckless driving if your behavior unreasonably endangers other people. Excessive speeding, fleeing the police or even engaging in additional unsafe behaviors while intoxicated could all potentially give rise to reckless driving charges under New York law.
What are the penalties for reckless driving?
Given that reckless driving is a criminal offense rather than just a traffic ticket, your penalties will be more significant than simply needing to pay a fine. Your previous driving history will influence what penalties you face.
A first-time reckless driving charge could mean five points on your license and up to 30 days in jail. A second reckless driving offense within 18 months will carry much larger fines, 10 points and up to 90 days of incarceration. A third offense within 18 months will mean even more fines, up to 180 days in jail and 15 points on your license. Given that New York can suspend your license for just 11 points, multiple reckless driving offenses could impact your driving privileges.
Understanding reckless driving allegations may be the first step toward fighting back against them after an encounter with police on the road.