Reckless Driving Attorney in Illinois
With the chaos of everyday life, it is easy to break traffic rules and regulations. Speeding to make an appointment, answering the phone to your boss while driving to work, or using the hard shoulder to overtake vehicles, can all lead to a reckless driving charge. Reckless driving is both a criminal and a traffic offense in Illinois.
Police officers, lawmakers, and traffic wardens want to keep the roads safe and ensure the free and proper use of roads and highways. Because of this, they impose harsh penalties on individuals driving recklessly.
A minor mistake could land you with a permanent criminal record that will affect you for the rest of your life. The criminal system is tough on traffic offenders, so you must hire an attorney.
At Hirsch Law Group, we have a team of highly experienced traffic and criminal defense attorneys. Our lawyers have worked as former prosecutors, and we know the tricks they will use to secure convictions.
Our law firm uses our unique experience to tailor special defenses for each client’s case. We will thoroughly investigate your case and explore all potential avenues for your defense strategy.
With reckless driving, the stakes are high. You could face jail time, fines, penalty points, and a criminal record. Our Illinois defense lawyers care about your future opportunities. We want to do everything possible to prevent a conviction and protect your future.
Call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation at 815-880-1134.
What is Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving is defined under 625 ILCS 5/11-503 of the Illinois Vehicle Code as the willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property while a person is operating their motor vehicle.
It also considers when a person knowingly uses an incline, such as a railroad crossing or hill, to make their motor vehicle airborne. Wilful refers to an intentional disregard for safety, and wanton means you understood the risks of careless driving and did it anyway.
There are two elements to the crime of reckless driving. The first element is driving a vehicle, and the second is a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of a person or property. To prove this crime, a prosecutor must show that you were driving the motor vehicle at the time of the alleged offense and that you were driving with wanton or willful disregard.
Unlike DUI, which requires physical vehicle control, you must have been driving recklessly. A prosecutor cannot convict you of reckless driving if you were sitting in the vehicle and not driving or if you were a passenger in the motor vehicle.
Also, if you were driving in a manner deemed reckless but had a valid reason for breaking the posted speed limit or overtaking other vehicles, it may not be reckless driving. If the prosecutor cannot prove you had a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, they cannot convict you.
Examples of Reckless Driving in Illinois
Some examples of behaviors on the road often lead to reckless driving charges. Speeding alone is insufficient to amount to careless driving unless it is over 20 mph over the limit. The prosecutor must prove that the accused drove their vehicle carelessly or wantonly.
Some examples of reckless driving in Illinois include:
Improper passing by failing to signal or by using the shoulder.
Driving more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit. For example, going 70 mph in a 50 mph zone.
Breaking the speed limit through a construction zone.
Excessive lane changing, either on the highway or during rush hour.
Driving on the highway recklessly.
Talking on the phone while driving.
Fleeing from a police officer, police vehicle, or traffic officer.
Unauthorized speed contest.
Changing lanes without leaving enough space
Driving with alcohol or drugs in your system.
Some behaviors may be charged as other traffic offenses, such as aggravated speeding, failure to yield, failure to obey traffic signals, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI).
Suppose the law enforcement officer believes that your behavior in failing to obey the rules of the road was because of a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. In that case, they will charge you with reckless driving.
Types of Reckless Driving Charges
There are several types of reckless driving charges in Illinois. These charges vary from a minor misdemeanor to a felony. The kind of charge brought against an accused person depends on the details of the incident, whether there were aggravating factors, such as a minor in the motor vehicle or injuries caused, and whether the accused has a previous criminal record.
A dry reckless is a standard reckless driving charge. The term ‘dry’ is often used to distinguish it from a reckless driving charge involving alcohol. This charge is a class A misdemeanor under Illinois law and will lead to a criminal record if convicted.
Misdemeanor reckless driving is when a person drives a motor vehicle recklessly, intending to cause damage or complete disregard. A reckless driving case that involves injury or harm to another person or property will be charged as a felony.
Rarely brought as a standalone charge, wet reckless driving is often used as a plea bargain in DUI cases. Wet reckless is the act of reckless driving involving alcohol. A prosecutor often uses a wet reckless charge in DUI cases where the accused had a lower blood alcohol concentration during the arrest or when the prosecution’s case is weak.
A prosecutor may suggest that a defendant plea down to a wet reckless in DUI cases to avoid trial costs and ensure they secure a conviction. A wet reckless may also be brought in cases of reckless driving where a person had alcohol in their system but was just under the legal limit.
Both driving under the influence and wet reckless charges are class A misdemeanors. However, the penalties for a wet reckless charge are usually less severe. For this reason, a person may plead guilty to wet reckless to avoid losing their driving license.
Reckless Driving Involving Injuries
A person who drives a motor vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of another person or property, and causes great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement to another person, shall be convicted of aggravated reckless driving. Reckless driving causing injury is a class 4 felony under Illinois law.
Suppose a person causes serious bodily injury or permanent disfigurement to a child, children, or a school crossing guard during their official duties. In that case, the aggravated reckless driving charges are increased to a class 3 felony. The penalties for a class 3 felony are more severe than a class 4.
With reckless driving that causes the death of another person, the charge is usually increased to reckless homicide. Reckless homicide charges are much more severe than reckless driving charges. Reckless homicide is a class 3 felony with much higher penalties than reckless driving convictions.
Consequences of a Reckless Driving Conviction
As reckless driving is a criminal offense, there are severe consequences for a conviction. A person convicted of reckless driving will face fines, possible jail time, a criminal record, and points on their driving record, amongst other consequences.
The penalties you receive for a reckless driving ticket depend on the event’s severity, whether it is a first, second, or subsequent offense, whether you have a driving record or criminal record, and the circumstances of the event.
If you are found guilty of reckless driving by a Judge, you must pay a fine. The fine you receive depends on the charge you are facing, whether there were aggravating factors, and whether damage or injury was caused. The Judge will also consider your criminal and driving history to determine an appropriate fine.
A standard reckless driving charge, with or without alcohol, is a class A misdemeanor. The maximum fine for a class A reckless driving misdemeanor is $2,500. For an aggravated class 4 felony, the maximum fine is $25,000. If the charge is brought as a class 4 felony, the fine is up to $25,000.
Being found guilty of reckless driving can also lead to jail time. For misdemeanor reckless driving, the penalty is a maximum of one year of jail time or two years of probation. If it is a first-time reckless driving conviction, the Judge will usually order probation instead of jail time.
For aggravated charges, the penalties increase substantially. Because aggravated driving charges are felonies, the penalties increase to up to five years. For a class 4 felony, the penalty is a minimum of one year of jail time up to three years. If a severe bodily injury is involved, the jail time will probably be longer than a year.
For a class 3 felony, this increases to a minimum of two years up to five years of jail time. For reckless homicide, the jail sentence is anywhere from five to ten years.
Illinois operates on a point-based system for traffic offenses. You receive several penalty points if you are convicted of a traffic offense. These penalty points are then added to your driving record. Your driver’s license will be suspended if you are convicted of three traffic offenses within one year. The length of the suspension depends on the number of penalty points you have.
For reckless driving, a person will receive 55 points on their license. In comparison, the penalty points for speeding up to 10 miles over the speed limit are just 5. You will face automatic license suspension if you received two speeding tickets in the past year and are convicted of reckless driving.
The penalty points for reckless driving will remain on your driver’s license for at least five years. If you have prior offenses on your record, you risk having your license suspended. So, if you have 100 or more points on your driver’s license, your license could be suspended for one year.
Rise in Insurance Premium
Reckless driving, alongside careless driving and negligent driving, is a moving violation. Being convicted of a moving violation means that your driving record is affected. Your insurance company has direct access to your driver’s record, and they can see when you receive a moving violation.
Insurance companies almost always increase their insurance premiums when a person receives an offense on their record. The increase in the premium can last for at least ten years, depending on your situation. On average, a reckless driving conviction can cause a 91% increase in your insurance premium, which is substantial.
If you pay $1,000 per year for your comprehensive insurance policy, this could be increased to $1,910. Sometimes, the premium will decrease after a few years. However, if you have prior offenses or the reckless driving ticket was severe, you could face increased costs for a long time.
Sometimes, reckless driving convictions can affect child custody issues. If you had a minor in your motor vehicle during the incident, this could be used against you in a child custody battle. If the other parent takes the issue to court, they may argue that you disregarded your child’s safety, which could lead to a loss of parental rights.
A significant consequence of a reckless driving conviction is receiving a criminal record. A criminal record can cause considerable hardship for the convicted person and create huge barriers in day-to-day life. You will be subject to criminal background checks if you have a criminal record.
Criminal background checks are conducted when applying for a job, applying to university, applying for a bank or financial institute loan, requesting public housing, and much more. On top of this, your criminal history may affect any child custody battles you are in and other court proceedings. If convicted of felony reckless driving, you will lose some constitutional rights and cannot travel freely.
Driving recklessly has severe consequences, and police officers and prosecutors are tough on Illinois drivers. With high fines, a jail sentence, financial consequences, and the consequences of a criminal record, your whole life could be changed by a reckless driving conviction. The only way to protect yourself against the criminal justice system is by hiring an experienced reckless driving lawyer. An experienced lawyer can help you reduce the charges, dismiss them, or even take your case to trial. Don’t risk facing the criminal justice system alone. Consult a reckless driving lawyer in Illinois today.
Defending Against a Reckless Driving Charge
You will need a solid criminal defense strategy backed by evidence and a thorough investigation to beat a reckless driving charge. Prosecutors and law enforcement officers are tough on traffic offenders. Unless you have a persuasive strategy, they will unlikely reduce your charges or consider dropping the case.
Hiring a Virginia reckless driving lawyer is the best way to defend against negligent driving cases. They will assess the evidence against you, investigate whether your rights were violated during the arrest process, and build a defense strategy based on the facts. Some examples of defenses they may use include:
Defendant Was Not Recklessly Driving
To prove reckless driving, the prosecutor must show that you were driving with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other people or public or private property. This entails proving that your driving posed a substantial and unjustifiable risk to other people or property and that you knew of the risk and ignored it. If they cannot prove this, the case will be unsuccessful.
A common defense in reckless driving allegations is that the defendant’s behavior did not equate to a willful or wanton disregard for other people’s or property’s safety. For example, if you were arrested for excessive speeding, your attorney can argue that a speeding ticket is more appropriate and it does not amount to driving recklessly.
Your Virginia reckless driving attorney could argue that your driving was not reckless but it was negligent, careless, distracted, or simply a poor decision. The onus is on the prosecutor to prove that you were driving recklessly. If they cannot prove this, you will not be convicted.
The necessity defense in criminal law suggests that a person committed a crime because they felt they had no choice. With reckless driving, your attorney could argue that you were driving in such a manner that could be deemed reckless. However, you had no other alternative.
They may argue that there was an emergency that required the person operating the vehicle to drive at an excessive speed, that the person driving was under duress, was fleeing from someone trying to kill them, or was trying to prevent much more significant harm.
The necessity defense must be backed by sufficient evidence to prove you had no choice. An experienced attorney can help you navigate this defense strategy and submit evidence on your behalf, if applicable, in your case.
Defendant Was Not Driving The Motor Vehicle
As discussed previously, there are two elements of a reckless driving offense. The first is that the person is driving the motor vehicle, and the second is that they are operating recklessly. Another defense strategy for these cases is that the person accused was not driving the vehicle at the time of the incident.
Sometimes, the identity of the driver can get confused during an arrest. In the following situations, a lawyer could argue that you were not driving the vehicle:
You loaned your car to someone else, and they were arrested.
You were a passenger when the motor vehicle was pulled over.
The person who committed the crime lied to the police officer by giving your name and details.
Violation of Rights
During all arrests in Illinois, the arresting officer and any other officers involved must respect your rights. This means reading your Miranda rights, advising you of the charges you are facing, and allowing you to contact your attorney. If they deny you any of these rights, your attorney can use this as a defense in your case.
If you were arrested at the scene for improper driving on a public highway, yet the police officer did not read you your Miranda rights, the case is invalid. Your attorney can petition to get the charges dropped altogether.
Law enforcement officers are known for denying people their legal rights to secure a conviction. You must inform your attorney if they violated your rights during the arrest or interrogation process. Prosecutors or police officers will never bring this information to light, as it could ruin their chances of winning the case.
To avoid violating your rights and prevent doing more harm to your case, contact an attorney as soon as you are arrested. Having an experienced reckless driving attorney by your side can ensure your rights are respected throughout the process.
An experienced attorney who specializes in reckless driving laws in Illinois can protect your rights, argue on your behalf for a reduced sentence or penalty, and explain the best defense strategies to use in your case. Contact an experienced attorney today to discuss your case and the best action.
Court Supervision in Illinois Reckless Driving Offenses
Court supervision is an agreement between the accused and the court to avoid a conviction. The person charged with a criminal or traffic offense will agree not to violate any laws during the supervision period specified in exchange for no sentence. Depending on your case, A Judge may stipulate other requirements in the agreement, such as community service, attending traffic school, or fines.
Court supervision is an option in reckless driving penalties when the offense is a misdemeanor. For aggravated charges, court supervision cannot be used. The accused must have no prior convictions for DUIs or reckless driving, including court supervision cases. Once you accept a court supervision plea, you cannot use this again in another similar case.
The advantages of court supervision are that you can avoid a conviction on your criminal record. The case, including the court supervision plea, will remain visible on your record. However, the optics of court supervision are much better than a conviction. You will face fewer difficulties applying for jobs and during criminal background searches.
Court supervision is not granted lightly, mainly if there is evidence to secure a conviction against you. To fight for court supervision in your case, you will need to enlist the skills of an experienced attorney. An attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor in your case to get the charges reduced or court supervision granted.
Can I Get My Driver’s License Reinstated in Illinois?
Losing your driver’s license to a reckless driving charge is not automatic. However, your license could be suspended if you have two previous convictions this year or received too many penalty points. The period your license will be suspended depends on the number of penalty points you have. The suspension could last over a year if you have three reckless driving convictions.
Without your driving privileges, you cannot drive a vehicle for the time suspension time specified. This means you cannot drive to work, pick up your children from school, and carry out daily errands. This can create a tremendous financial strain, as you may have to pay for public transport or cabs to and from work.
To get your license reinstated following a suspension, you must satisfy the requirements set out by the Judge. This includes waiting for the suspension period and paying the reinstatement fee, usually $500. If you need to apply for a hardship license, which allows you to drive to and from work under certain circumstances, our lawyers can help you with this process.
The lawyers at our firm are experienced in driver’s license reinstatement cases. We can help you understand the process for reinstating your license and guide you through the paperwork. We will also help you prepare for an administrative hearing, if necessary, and argue your case in court.
If you have been charged with reckless driving in Illinois, our experienced attorneys are ready to answer any questions you may have and help protect your rights. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.
Reckless Driving vs. DUI
As discussed earlier, some DUI charges get downgraded to a ‘wet reckless,’ which is reckless driving involving alcohol. This is because the penalties for reckless driving are less severe than those for drunk driving. Although DUI and reckless driving are class A misdemeanors, there are added penalties with a DUI that do not come with a reckless driving case.
For example, driving under the influence results in automatic license suspension for one year. For a second or subsequent offense, the suspension periods increase substantially. However, there is no automatic license suspension or revocation for reckless driving. Also, if you have prior DUIs, they will affect any future DUIs that you receive. This is not the case with reckless driving.
There are also more fees for DUI charges than for reckless driving. If convicted of DUI, you must pay license reinstatement fees, extra court costs, and DMV costs. There is also a higher chance that you will be sent to jail for a DUI.
On the face, reckless driving is more favorable than a DUI conviction. However, the consequences of being convicted of reckless driving are still severe. As a criminal conviction, you will still receive a criminal record and face extreme difficulties in life. You will also receive points on your driver’s license, and you risk license suspension in the future.
Should I Accept a Wet Reckless Plea in a DUI Case?
If a prosecutor offers you a wet reckless plea instead of going to trial for DUI, think twice about it. Although this is a good option sometimes, getting a legal opinion from an experienced attorney is best to see if you have better options. If the prosecutor offers you this plea, it could mean they do not have firm evidence against you or your blood alcohol content was low at the arrest.
If you have no prior DUI convictions, had a low blood alcohol content, and were careful, a lawyer can help reduce your charges much more down than reckless driving. Pleading guilty to reckless driving means getting a criminal record and facing criminal penalties, including fines and a potential jail sentence.
If you face DUI charges, an attorney can investigate your case to assess the evidence against you. They will help you negotiate your charges of a traffic offense or try to get them dropped altogether. If you have prior DUI offenses on your record and there were aggravating factors, they may advise you to accept a wet reckless charge.
Can I Get a Reckless Driving Conviction Expunged?
Expungement is the process of getting a conviction removed from your criminal record. After the expungement process, you can honestly say to employers and other entities conducting background checks that you have no criminal history. It isn’t easy to get your record expunged in Illinois. However, it is possible with reckless driving in minimal circumstances.
If you were convicted of reckless driving before turning 25, you can apply to get your conviction expunged. However, you must have no prior criminal or traffic law convictions on your record. You are not eligible for expungement if you were over 25 during the offense.
Unfortunately, reckless driving cannot be expunged or sealed in any other circumstance under Illinois law. So, if you do not fall into the tight requirements for expungement, you will have reckless driving on your criminal record forever. The charge will automatically be removed from your driver’s record after 11 years.
Do You Need a Lawyer For a Reckless Driving Case?
Facing criminal charges is a big deal. If you are convicted, you risk going to jail, paying huge fines, and getting a permanent criminal record. A criminal record will affect you for the rest of your life, and you will face significant barriers to many opportunities. Although a reckless driving charge may not seem serious, it is, and it will remain on your record forever.
If you care about your future, hire a criminal defense attorney. Coming up against the criminal justice system in Illinois without legal representation is a recipe for disaster. Prosecutors know how to secure convictions and do not care about protecting your future. They prioritize moving your case through the system as quickly as possible to increase their conviction numbers.
Hiring a criminal defense attorney ensures your legal rights will be protected at all costs. A lawyer can help your case by advising you throughout the entire process of your rights, explaining the legal system to you, investigating your case, speaking with witnesses, and building a solid defense strategy on your behalf.
Your lawyer’s job is to get the best possible outcome for your case. This could mean getting the charges reduced substantially, getting court supervision, or getting the case thrown out completely. It is tough to defend your case properly without legal expertise and knowledge.
Traffic Defense Lawyers at Hirsch Law Group
At Hirsch Law Group, we prioritize protecting the futures of our clients. Our law firm has a team of former prosecutors working as aggressive criminal defense attorneys. Our managing attorney and founder, Gordon H. Hirsch, worked as a prosecutor for many years and set up a criminal defense law firm to protect the rights of those accused of crimes.
Having worked on the other side, we have seen first-hand the tactics and tricks that prosecutors use to secure a conviction. Because we have this unique experience, we can build a powerful defense for your case and help ensure you are acquitted of a criminal offense. We are committed to delivering the highest legal protection to all our clients and helping them avoid jail.
Our law firm comprises highly skilled criminal and traffic defense attorneys. Our attorneys have won multiple awards for their dedication to clients, including Enterprise.com Best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Chicago 2022, America’s Top 100 Attorneys, and The National Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyers.
With criminal reckless driving cases, there is a lot at risk. It is possible to represent yourself. However, you will likely end up in jail by doing so. If you care about your future and want to do everything that you can to protect it, you need to hire the best legal defense possible. Hirsch Law Group has what it takes to get the best possible outcome in your case and ensure that you do not fall victim to the criminal justice system.
Hirsch Law Group offers mitigation packets to all of our criminal defense clients. Having worked as prosecutors, we know how much work prosecutors have every week. Because of this, they do not have time to learn about the person involved in each case. To combat this, our firm offers a mitigation packet that we submit to the prosecutor in your case for consideration.
This packet contains information about you and your life, including your job, family, involvement in the community, awards and recognitions, and referrals from friends and your employer. We submit this information to the prosecutor so they can learn more about you and are much more likely to grant a more lenient sentence.
Contact a Traffic Defense Attorney at Hirsch Law Group Today!
Contact an attorney immediately if you are facing reckless driving charges in Illinois. A conviction for driving recklessly will land you a permanent criminal record, huge fines, and a potential jail sentence. With a criminal record, you will lose out on future opportunities, face social stigma, and be forced to submit your criminal history in all background checks.
Hiring an experienced attorney can help protect your future against the negative consequences of a criminal conviction. The defense attorneys at Hirsch Law Group have been helping Illinois citizens for over 20 years. Our law firm comprises former prosecutors turned aggressive criminal defense attorneys.
We understand how challenging the criminal justice system is and want to help you fight against it. Our lawyers will dedicate their time to investigating your case, assessing whether your rights were violated at any stage, building a vigorous defense, negotiating, and fighting aggressively on your behalf.
Your future is not something to take chances with. The best thing you can do today is hire a top-quality criminal defense attorney from Hirsch Law Group.
Call our law firm today at 815-880-1134 to schedule a free consultation.