While many people consider traffic violations to be minor offenses, the truth is that traffic violations can result in serious punitive consequences. Being accused of reckless driving can result in heavy fines and even jail time. A reckless driving charge is not something to take lightly. Read on to learn about Illinois reckless driving law and what you can do to defend against such charges.
What Constitutes Reckless Driving?
According to Illinois statute 625 ILCS 5/11-503, reckless driving includes:
- When a driver is “willfully or wantonly disregarding the safety of other persons or property while driving their vehicle;” and
- When a driver purposely uses an incline to make their vehicle become airborne.
The first scenario is much more common than the latter. An individual who is traveling at a very high speed may be charged with reckless driving. Behaviors like swerving back and forth between lanes without signaling and driving erratically may also be considered reckless driving. Negligent driving, or driving without consideration for the safety of other motorists and pedestrians, is often considered reckless driving as well.
Reckless Driving Penalties
If you are convicted of standard reckless driving in Illinois, you will be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and $2,500 in fines. Additionally, one point is added to your driver’s license. If anyone was injured as a result of your reckless driving, the penalties you are facing are more severe. Reckless driving which causes serious injuries to another person is called aggravated reckless driving. This crime is a class 4 felony which is punishable by one to three years imprisonment, up to 30 months on probation, and a maximum of $25,000 in fines. Reckless driving that results in death will most likely lead to reckless homicide charges.
Possible Defenses Against Reckless Driving Charges
Illinois law says that reckless driving must be “willful.” This means that you must have knowingly driven in a way that was reckless. If you and your legal counsel can convince the judge or jury that your behavior was not intentional, the charges against you may be dropped. The difference between a speeding violation and reckless driving violation may only be a few miles per hour. In cases like these, a defendant may be able to argue that the speedometer did not accurately reflecting the vehicle’s speed.