In Arizona, the law expects all drivers to remain in control of their automobiles and comply with the state and federal laws designed to enhance road safety. Reckless driving is a significant moving traffic violation characterized by risky driving behaviors. The charge is much more severe than a simple traffic ticket. The law classifies the charge as a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by license suspension and extensive jail terms.
When the law enforcement officer stops you over suspicious reckless driving in Phoenix, you want to seek legal help immediately. You want to consider working with a top criminal defense attorney. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we are ready to work with you. Therefore, when the police arrest you over reckless driving, do not hesitate to contact our legal experts. We have helped countless people win their cases.
What is Reckless Driving in Arizona?
In Arizona, reckless driving occurs when you drive a vehicle with disregard for the safety of the surrounding property or people. When reckless drivers disregard traffic laws, they place road users at risk of sustaining injuries or even death in case of an accident.
The crime is a class 2 misdemeanor in Arizona. You could face extensive jail when arrested and charged with reckless driving. The offense also attracts points on your driving license.
The points remain in your records for one year. When you face the charge, you want to seek advice from your criminal defense attorney. The attorney will help you learn more about reckless driving laws in Arizona. Also, the attorney will help you navigate the legal process.
When Are You Charged with Reckless Driving in Arizona?
You face reckless driving charges when the police notice you are operating your vehicle in a way that disregards the safety of other road users. Like driving crimes, law enforcement officers will pull you, review your driver's license, and offer you a reckless driving ticket.
Unlike other driving cases, how a law enforcement officer determines "recklessness" depends on numerous factors. The following are typical examples of reckless driving in Arizona:
- Illegal passing.
- Ignoring traffic lights.
- Cutting off other vehicles.
- Racing other vehicles.
- Weaving or swerving through traffic.
- Failing to stop at crosswalks.
Reckless Driving and DUI Charges in Arizona
You want to note that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and reckless driving are two separate charges. A DUI charge means the driver operates a vehicle with a BAC reading above 0.08%. In some instances in Arizona, the law allows several charged with DUI to plead to a less severe charge.
The Potential Penalties for Reckless Driving in Arizona
In addition to suspending your driver's license, reckless driving can have other significant penalties. Based on whether this is your first-time offense or it is a second-time offense within two years, the following are the potential penalties for reckless driving in Arizona:
- A 24-month probation term.
- A maximum of six months jail term.
- A compulsory surrender of your license.
Apart from facing the above penalties, the conviction places 8 points on your license. An accumulation of 8 and above points leads to your driver's license suspension for one year. The law requires you to attend a compulsory traffic survival school to skip license suspension. Usually, the points you gain from reckless driving remain on your driver's license for one year.
The Court Process for Reckless Driving in Arizona
Unlike standard traffic tickets, the law considers reckless driving a criminal offense. It means the driver must follow specific procedures, as in a criminal case. If you are unfamiliar with the Arizona court process, you want to seek legal help from your attorney.
The attorney will help you learn more about the Arizona court process. Ensure you hire an attorney conversant with Arizona laws. A reckless driving case usually has three main phases as follows:
Arraignment is usually the first court date. During this period, the criminal court judge reads your rights. Also, the judge discusses the maximum penalties you can face to ensure you know the charges against you. You can also decide to plead guilty during this time.
Once you admit the crime, you are convicted right away. The right thing to do during this time is to seek legal advice from your criminal defense attorney. The attorney will help you make the right choice in your case. Also, your attorney will help you learn more about what happens during the arraignment.
When you plead not guilty, your criminal defense attorney starts to gather critical evidence to defend your rights. During discovery, your attorney and the prosecutor exchange information about your case. Where can your attorney gather evidence to fight the reckless driving charge?
Your attorney can use camera footage to collect all the necessary evidence regarding your arrest. Also, discussing everything with your attorney ensures the attorney understands your case better and can build the evidence required to fight the charges.
In Arizona, pre-trial conferences are the second or third court-ordered dates after the arraignment hearing. At this time, your attorney and the prosecutor meet. They share information gathered during the discovery phase.
They proceed to discuss the potential plea offers. These conferences focus on reaching a resolution. To succeed in your case, you must work closely with a well-experienced Arizona attorney. The attorney you work with will be essential in determining the success of your case.
What to Do When It Is a Second Reckless Driving Conviction?
The potential penalties for a second offense of reckless driving are harsh, mainly when the crime occurs within two years after the first conviction. When this is your second conviction, the law considers the charge a class 1 misdemeanor. So, you face the following penalties:
- Compulsory license suspension.
- A six months jail terms.
Therefore, when this is your second-time reckless driving conviction, you want to seek legal help from your attorney immediately. The attorney will do everything possible to alleviate the burden of facing harsh penalties and reduce the case to the minimum possible outcome.
The Potential Outcomes of a Reckless Driving Case in Arizona
The prosecutor, environmental factors, and location can heavily influence the potential outcomes of your case. So, ensure you work with a competent attorney to help explore your case's best possible outcome. The following are the potential outcomes of a reckless driving charge in Arizona:
- A criminal record.
- Harm to your immigration status.
- Disqualification from your job.
- Non-renewal of your visa.
Is Mitigation a Potential Option in Reckless Driving?
Your attorney can work towards mitigation based on the pre-trial meetings and the discovery phase. It means the case can be dismissed, or the court can lessen the charge to a less serious traffic offense. Based on the situations surrounding your case, the mitigation can include the following:
- A not guilty verdict at the judgment.
- Dismissal with voluntary life skills classes.
- Dismissal with a mandatory defensive driving class.
- Negotiations toward community service.
- Negotiations toward non-moving violations.
Evidence you Require to Build a Strong Defense
With the legal help of an attorney conversant with reckless driving cases, the chances of obtaining a lighter punishment are limited. The following is the critical evidence your attorney can use to build a strong defense:
Photos and Videos
If it is impossible to see the speed signs, taking many videos or photos can help prove improper signage. The images can give the judge or the prosecutor an insight into the case's condition and help describe your driving behavior.
Witness testimony is essential. The testimony can help establish whether you over-sped. Again, the witnesses can help prove why you were frequently changing lines. Note that the witnesses could also have incriminating information about your behavior. So, it is essential to work with the witnesses days before the day of testimony.
GPS can help determine whether you speed up your vehicle. Also, the GPS can help show how far you have operated your vehicle. However, the information must be accurate for the GPS to be helpful.
If you and the prosecutor dispute that you were speeding, as the law enforcement officers claim, you can obtain a speedometer calibration. Based on whether your vehicle is damaged, modified, or properly maintained, it is possible for the speedometer to show the exact speed you were driving.
Legal Defenses for Reckless Driving in Arizona
When you face a reckless driving charge, you must hire an attorney to help you navigate the case. The attorney will raise several defenses to help prove your innocence. Ensure you cooperate with your attorney and let the attorney know your side of the story.
The attorney will collect enough evidence to help develop a solid defense to fight the charge. The following are the legal defenses your attorney can employ to fight the charges:
You Did Not Drive
The prosecutor must prove you were operating a vehicle during your arrest. Therefore, your criminal defense attorney can argue that you were not operating a car during your arrest. The court could dismiss your charges if the prosecutor fails to prove that you were driving a vehicle during your arrest. You also need to support your claim.
You can also use the defense of necessity to fight a reckless driving charge. Through the defense of necessity, your criminal defense attorney will show the following:
- The reckless driving took place because you believed an emergency occurred.
- The emergency placed a third party under threat.
- You never created the alleged emergency.
However, if you violate other traffic laws, you are driving with disregard for the safety of other road users. Therefore, if you support your claim that you believed an emergency occurred, the court could drop your charges.
You have many ways to show that the case lacks sufficient evidence. For example, you cannot face conviction if there is no property or if speeding puts a person at risk. Also, if your behavior did not rise to the level of reckless, the prosecutor will find it challenging to prove reckless driving.
If the prosecutor has evidence, you can challenge the credibility of the evidence. So, make sure you discuss everything with your criminal defense attorney to help you determine whether your acts count as reckless driving.
When law enforcement officers violate your constitutional rights during your pullover, there might not be a legal reason to cite you. For example, you can use this defense when the police stop you for violating the traffic rule but cite you for reckless driving. Your criminal defense attorney can use witnesses or AVL data to prove your innocence. Once the court finds you innocent, they drop the charges.
No Criminal Intent
To face conviction for reckless driving, the prosecutor must prove that you acted recklessly. Recklessness can be refuted in several ways. For example, following other vehicles closely or frequently changing lanes are good examples of reckless driving.
However, speed alone cannot be enough evidence for reckless driving, especially when no property or person is at risk. So, when you prove that you did not have criminal intent to commit the offense, the court will drop the charges.
One of the elements of reckless driving is knowing you were recklessly driving. So, when the reckless driving charge results from speeding, there must also be proper and enough signage to see.
Therefore, your criminal defense attorney can bring evidence to show there was obstructed or improper signage during the commission of the offense. Once the attorney convinces the court, the judge or jury will drop the charges.
Other Related Offenses
Many crimes are charged alongside reckless driving in Arizona. The judge can reduce the reckless driving charge to another, less severe one. The following are the common crimes charged alongside reckless driving in Arizona:
Street Racing - ARS 28 -708
In Arizona, the law prohibits street racing. The consequences of the crime are harsh and include extensive jail terms, the loss of your driver's license, high fines, and probation. The law disallows the following activities: speed competitions, drag races, and exhibitions of speed to make a speed record. The racing competition involves two cars racing each other on the streets. You could also face street racing charges when you attempt to prevent a motor vehicle from passing.
The Legal Penalties of Street Racing in Arizona
A conviction for street racing comes with severe consequences. First, you obtain 8 points on your license. Your license is also at risk of being suspended. Other penalties vary based on whether it is a first- or second-time conviction.
- First Conviction
When you are convicted of street racing for the first time, you face a class 1 misdemeanor charge. The criminal court judge can also choose to suspend your license. You can also remain behind bars for six months.
- Second Conviction
When you commit a second street racing crime in Arizona within 24 months, you face a felony charge. When you face a felony charge, you face mandatory jail terms, and the court could revoke your license.
The Legal Defenses
When law enforcement officers stop and accuse you of street racing, there are numerous things you want to consider doing to fight the charges. You want to first determine why the law enforcement officers stopped you. You also want to seek legal help from your criminal defense attorney. With the help of your attorney, the following defenses can help you fight the charges:
- You did not drive.
- False accusation.
It is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In Arizona, the law prohibits anyone from operating a vehicle with a BAC level above 0.08%. So, when you exceed the set alcohol limit, you face a DUI charge. Similarly, when you have any drug content in your body, the drug can lay the basis for a DUI arrest.
When your BAC level exceeds 0.08% or 0.04% for commercial drivers, you will automatically lose your driver's license. But you still have an opportunity to obtain a restricted permit to reinstate your driving privileges. Before the court reinstates your driving privileges, you must undergo a drug screening.
Defenses for a DUI charge in Arizona
When law enforcement officers arrest you for a DUI offense, you might be wondering whether there is something you can do to contest the charge. Like other criminal offenses, you can use several defenses to fight the DUI charge. The following are the legal defenses for DUI charges in Arizona:
- Inadmissible evidence.
- Issues with chemical testing.
- You were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the commission of the crime.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
When law enforcement officers charge you with reckless driving in Arizona, you must hire a competent criminal defense attorney. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and ensuring you fight the charges. If you face a reckless driving charge and seek legal services in Phoenix, you want to speak with our attorneys immediately. Contact us today at 602-551-8092 for a free case evaluation.