Reckless driving is a traffic violation and a criminal offense in Illinois. Being convicted of reckless driving means you will face criminal penalties and get penalty points on your driver’s license. Most reckless driving charges in Illinois are misdemeanor charges. However, if you cause injury or harm to another person, you could face felony charges.
The consequences of a felony conviction are far more severe than a misdemeanor. Convicted felons face difficulties in all walks of life, including employment, education, housing, finances, child custody battles, and accessing federal assistance. Although a reckless driving charge may not seem too severe, it is. Being convicted of a felony may change your entire life.
The only way to protect yourself against the harsh consequences of a felony reckless driving conviction is by hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney. Hirsch Law Group has been helping Illinois citizens with criminal and traffic offenses for over 20 years. Our lawyers have significant experience with traffic and criminal laws within the state, and we have helped many clients avoid felony convictions.
Our law office has a team of aggressive criminal defense lawyers who have worked as former prosecutors. We use our unique experience to build robust criminal defense strategies for our clients, and we can try to predict arguments that prosecutors make. Our priority is helping you avoid a criminal conviction for felony reckless driving and doing everything to protect your future.
Do not gamble with a felony charge. If you have been charged with reckless driving, contact Hirsch Law Group today for the legal assistance you need. Our lawyers will evaluate your case honestly and explain how to proceed. We are here to help you every step of the way. Call us today to get a free evaluation at 815-880-1134.
How Reckless Driving is Defined Under Law
General reckless driving laws in Illinois are strict. The regulations define reckless driving as driving a motor vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Willful or wanton disregard can be divided into two elements.
The first, willful, refers to an intentional disregard for the safety of persons or property. The second, wanton disregard, implies that the driver was aware of the risks and, regardless of this, drove recklessly. How reckless police officers and prosecutors determine driving depends on the conduct involved. They must show that the driver had the intention of causing damage or had a complete disregard for safety.
To be convicted of reckless driving, the prosecutor must also prove that you were the actual driver of the motor vehicle. It is not enough for the prosecution to show that you were in the car or that you were in the passenger seat when the police officer pulled your vehicle over. This is distinct from driving under the influence (DUI) cases, which merely require actual physical control of the motor vehicle.
Types of Reckless Driving in Illinois
As noted previously, to be convicted of reckless driving, the person must be driving the motor vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. The prosecutor must prove that you had a willful or wanton disregard for safety and should not charge you with reckless driving if you were driving a few miles over the posted speed limit.
Some examples of reckless driving in Illinois include:
Excessive speeding, which is 20 mph or more over the speed limit.
Weaving through traffic lanes during rush hour or on the highway.
Distracted driving while excessively speeding.
Reckless driving on the highway, such as excessive speeding, overtaking cars without signaling, or driving on the hard shoulder.
Fleeing from a law enforcement officer or traffic officer.
Driving with alcohol or drugs in your system.
The arresting officer will determine whether you were reckless driving based on the circumstances. Sometimes, they may bring a reckless driving charge for careless driving or talking on the phone while driving. However, other traffic violations, such as distracted driving or speeding tickets, may be more suitable.
Misdemeanor Reckless Driving
Standard reckless driving charges are misdemeanors. If the reckless driving case did not involve an injury to another person or damage to public or private property, it is charged as a misdemeanor offense. This includes reckless driving cases where alcohol or drugs were involved as well. A dry or wet reckless charge is a class A misdemeanor under Illinois law.
A misdemeanor reckless driving offense is a criminal offense and a traffic offense. Because of this, a person convicted will receive both traffic and criminal penalties. The criminal penalties for a class A misdemeanor for reckless driving include fines of up to $2,500, up to a year of jail time, and up to two years of probation. You will also receive a permanent criminal record that cannot be expunged unless under specific circumstances.
A standard reckless driving conviction does not cause automatic license suspension. However, per the Illinois penalty points system, you will receive points on your driving record. With three traffic offenses in a year, you will be subject to automatic license suspension, and the length of the suspension will be determined by the number of points you have.
Felony Reckless Driving in Illinois
Reckless driving is a felony when an injury is involved. Aggravated reckless driving, which is driving with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, and causing injury or bodily harm to another person, is felony reckless driving. Under Illinois law, aggravated reckless driving is a class 4 felony.
If a driver causes bodily harm to a child or a school crossing guard carrying out their duties, they will be charged with a class 4 felony. The same charge will apply if a driver causes significant bodily injury or permanent disability to another person unless a child or school crossing guard is involved.
If a driver causes serious bodily injury, permanent disability, or disfigurement to a child or school crossing guard carrying out their official duties, they will receive a class 3 felony charge. The felony charges increase when your reckless driving causes a death. If your reckless driving case involved the death of another person, the charge is increased to reckless homicide.
Reckless homicide is a class 3 felony, like aggravated reckless driving involving great bodily harm to children. However, the penalties for a reckless homicide conviction are far more severe than aggravated reckless driving.
Consequences of a Reckless Driving Conviction
The consequences of a felony conviction for reckless driving are extreme. Criminal penalties for a felony conviction are much more severe than those for a misdemeanor. With a felony on your criminal record, you may face societal stigmatization and significant barriers to employment, housing, and much more.
For a class 4 felony for reckless driving, which can include great bodily harm to another person or bodily injury to a child or school crossing guard, the penalties include fines of up to $25,000, a minimum jail sentence of one year, and up to five years in jail.
For a class 3 felony involving significant bodily injury or permanent disability to a child or school crossing guard, the penalties include fines of up to $25,000, a minimum jail sentence of two years, and up to five years in jail. It may be possible to get probation for an aggravated reckless driving citation with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Restrictions For Convicted Felons in Illinois
Being convicted of a felony in Illinois has many collateral consequences. Although you may serve prison time for a reckless driving conviction, the penalties do not end there.
Convicted felons face severe barriers when turning a new page after a conviction. With a criminal record for a felony, it is difficult to get employed, get into education, apply for a bank or financial institution loan, and get housing.
The Fair Housing Act does not include convicted felons as a protected group, allowing landlords to discriminate against those convicted. With a felony for reckless driving, you will face difficulties getting a landlord to rent you a property, and you cannot apply for public housing. You can also be kicked out of your family’s public housing with a felony conviction.
Federal Assistance and Legal Rights
Convicted felons also lose access to some federal assistance programs. With a felony conviction, you cannot apply for Section 8 Housing Assistance, some welfare programs, and Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF). You may also face difficulties applying for student loans.
A felony reckless driving conviction can also take away some constitutional rights. Convicted felons lose their right to own and bear arms, serve as a juror, vote in elections, have certain parental rights, have the right to certain jobs, and travel internationally in some circumstances.
Car Insurance Rates
Because reckless driving is both a criminal charge and a traffic violation, a convicted person faces double consequences. When you receive a moving violation on your driver’s record, your insurance company will receive notification of this.
Almost all insurance companies in Illinois increase their insurance premiums when a driver has a moving violation. This conviction could stay on your record for ten years, so you could pay huge premiums for a long time.
Fighting Against a Felony Reckless Driving Charge
To fight against a felony charge of reckless driving, you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The court system favors the prosecutor, and accused persons must fight hard to prevent a criminal conviction. Doing this without an experienced attorney is extremely difficult, as you must have an in-depth knowledge of laws and how the system works.
An experienced defense attorney can use their legal skills to help your case significantly. They will investigate your case, assess the evidence against you, speak with witnesses, gather police evidence, and analyze any defense strategies available. They may bring proof to prove you were driving recklessly out of necessity, that you were not driving the vehicle, or that you did not have a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
Your traffic ticket attorney will ensure you know your legal rights and can guide you through the process. They will negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf and help ensure you get the best possible outcome. You may need to agree to a plea bargain depending on the situation. However, your lawyer should help get the best possible plea bargain for your case and help get the felony reduced as much as possible.
Mitigation packets are information files about the accused to be submitted to the prosecutor. These packets give the prosecutor more information about the type of person the accused is, aiming to get a sentence or reduce the charge.
The information included in these packages could be your employment history, information about your family, references from family and friends, and any voluntary work you carried out.
Not all law firms offer these supporting information packets. However, Hirsch Law Group provides this for all our criminal defense clients. We know how much of an effect these packets can have on a case and how favorable it is for a prosecutor to learn more about you.
Because of this, we gather as much information on our clients as possible and submit this to the prosecutor. This may help reduce the charges or create a more favorable outcome.
Reckless driving is a serious offense in Illinois, and if you are charged with a felony, it is essential to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. A reckless driving attorney at Hirsch Law Group can help you fight these charges and ensure you receive the best possible outcome. We are here to help you every step of the way, from negotiating with prosecutors to submitting mitigation packets. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Can I Get Court Supervision For a Felony Reckless Driving Offense?
Court supervision is an option in some reckless driving cases. Court supervision is an agreement between the accused and the criminal court. This agreement usually provides that the accused will not receive a reckless driving conviction if they do not commit more traffic violations or other laws during the specified period.
Court supervision is a good option for many people facing reckless driving charges, as it prevents a conviction from going on your record. Sometimes, a DUI plea bargain involves being reduced to a reckless driving charge and the accused receiving court supervision. When you have been charged with a first offense for reckless driving, your attorney may help you get court supervision.
However, court supervision is not an option for felony reckless driving offenses. Unfortunately, Illinois law does not allow those charged with a felony to avoid the conviction through court supervision. So, if you are facing a felony charge, your lawyer must try to reduce your charges to a misdemeanor.
Will I Lose My Driver’s License For Felony Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving convictions will affect your driving record, but they do not lead to an automatic license suspension. Because Illinois follows a penalty points system for traffic violations, you will receive penalty points for a reckless driving conviction. The points for reckless driving are usually 55.
If you are convicted of three traffic violations within one year, your driver’s license will be suspended automatically. If you have two speeding tickets and are convicted of reckless driving, your license could be suspended. The number of penalty points you have determines how long your license will be suspended.
If you have 54 to 74 points, your license may be suspended for three months. However, if you have over 100 points, this suspension period extends to twelve months. Penalty points stay on your license for up to five years. So, a traffic violation on your record from a few years ago can affect your license suspension period.
If your license is suspended because of a reckless driving conviction, you may be eligible to apply for a restricted license. A restricted court license allows you to drive to and from your job under certain circumstances. An attorney can help you apply for this license and assess eligibility.
Is Reckless Driving a Felony?
Not all reckless driving cases are felonies in Illinois. However, if your reckless driving leads to personal injury, including serious bodily injury or permanent disability, you could face felony charges. If it leads to someone being killed, you could face reckless homicide charges. Being convicted of a felony can have long-lasting consequences. With a permanent criminal record, your entire future could be at risk.
On top of this, you could end up with a mandatory minimum sentence in the state or county jail, paying massive fines, and losing your driver’s license for too many convictions. Prosecutors and police officers are tough on those charged with felonies. They may do everything possible to secure a conviction and quickly move your case through the system.
Contact Hirsch Law Group Today!
Contact a criminal traffic ticket attorney today if you are facing a criminal charge for reckless driving. The best chance you have of avoiding a felony conviction is with the legal experience of a skilled defense attorney. Coming up against the criminal justice system alone is not advised. Prosecutors in Illinois courts are tough, and their priority is securing a conviction and getting your case through the system as soon as possible.
The lawyers at Hirsch Law Group know this because we have worked as former prosecutors. We now work as aggressive criminal defense attorneys to protect citizens against the severe consequences of the criminal legal system. Our traffic tickets attorneys will investigate your case thoroughly, negotiate with the prosecutor to get a charge reduction, build a strong defense strategy, and fight to prevent a felony conviction.
Accused persons must take matters into their own hands to protect themselves against a criminal record. This means hiring an attorney with enough experience, skills, and power to win your case. Hirsch Law Group has what it takes to get a favorable outcome in your case.
Protect your future and call our law firm today for a free consultation at 815-880-1134.