A.R.S. 28-693. RECKLESS DRIVING IN ARIZONA
Reckless driving is a common criminal citation issued by Arizona police; it’s also one of the most serious traffic crimes due to its harsh penalties.
What constitutes reckless driving in Arizona?
The reckless driving statute simply reads that it’s illegal to drive in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property. Thus, there’s no definitive answer on what kind of driving is reckless; the language is open to interpretation. In each reckless driving case, we must evaluate the totality of circumstances.
Prosecutors will argue that any sort of speeding, swerving, weaving, quick braking, rapid acceleration, or tailgating is reckless. However, as common sense citizens, we understand that drivers are constantly committing a variety of traffic violations. Some are serious and some are minor. Some infractions are done on purpose; others are caused by inattention. Sometimes there’s only one traffic infraction; other times there are several. Sometimes infractions create danger; and other times they’re harmless. Whether a person is driving reckless and creating safety risks is open to interpretation. Ultimately, it’s the jury that decides whether you were driving recklessly—not the police, not the prosecutor, and not the judge. A reckless driving charge affords you the right to a jury under Arizona’s common law. Your jury right is valuable because the prosecutor must firmly convince 6 members of the community that you drove recklessly while jeopardizing the safety of others. That can be challenging because the reckless driving statute is open to interpretation.
Potential Penalties for Reckless Driving in Arizona.
Reckless driving penalties can be very harsh. Penalties depend on your driving history and criminal record. The biggest question is whether, in the past 24 to 84 months, you were convicted of any of the following offenses: DUI, reckless driving, racing on highways, or vehicular homicide. If you were convicted of one of those crimes, for an incident in the 24 months preceding this incident date, you face a MINIMUM OF 20 DAYS IN JAIL AND A MANDATORY ONE YEAR LICENSE REVOCATION. If you were convicted of one of those crimes, for an incident in the 84 months preceding this violation date, you face a MANDATORY ONE YEAR LICENSE REVOCATION.
If you don’t have one of the specific driving crimes on your record, from the previous 24 months, you face a Class 2 Misdemeanor Reckless Driving, which carries these penalties:
- Permanent criminal record
- Up to 120 days in jail (The Judge may permit release for work or school up to 12 hours a day, 5 days a week)
- The judge can take away your license for 90 days
- MVD, at a minimum, will impose a 90-days suspension; it may be avoided by attending traffic school if you haven’t attended it in the last two years. If you already have points on your license, you can face a mandatory suspension with no traffic school option.
- ONE YEAR LICENSE REVOCATION IF PREVIOUSLY CONVICTED of reckless driving, DUI, or racing on highways for a violation that occurred in the 84 months preceding this violation date.
- Up to two years of probation
- Up to $1,372.50 in fines and surcharges
- 8 points added to your license
- Increased Insurance Premiums
If you have a prior conviction for reckless driving, DUI, racing on highways, or vehicular homicide in the previous 24 months, it’s a Class 1 Misdemeanor, which carries these penalties:
- MANDATORY ONE YEAR LICENSE REVOCATION
- MINIMUM 20 DAYS IN JAIL and up to 180 days in jail (The Judge may permit release for work or school up to 12 hours a day, 5 days a week)
- Up to three years of probation
- Up to $4,575.00 in fines and surcharges
- 8 additional points on your license
- Increased Insurance Premiums
Q: Can I lose my license if I’m convicted of reckless driving?
A: Yes, and in a few different ways. The Judge may take away your license for up to 3 months. In addition, depending on your driving record, MVD might revoke your license for one year. At a minimum, upon report of the conviction, MVD will give you the choice between a 90-day suspension or traffic school. Traffic school isn’t an option if you’ve attended it in the past two years. If you already have points on your license, you may face a mandatory suspension without the option for traffic school.
Q: How Does Arizona’s License Points System Work?
A: Any moving violation adds points to your license. If you accumulate enough points, your license will be suspended. Points remain on your license for 36 months. See our blog on license point for more details. Here’s a brief recap on MVD’s point suspensions.
- 8 points in 12 months = 3-month suspension (can avoid with traffic school, so long as you haven’t attended in the last 24 months)
- 13 points in 12 months = mandatory 3-month suspension
- 18 points in 12 months = mandatory 6-month suspension
- 24 points in 36 months = mandatory 12-month suspension
Q: Can I attend Defensive Driving School to avoid a reckless driving conviction?
A: No. Reckless driving is NOT eligible for defensive driving school.
Defenses to Reckless Driving in Arizona.
In defending a reckless driving case, we review the citation, officer notes, police report, video and audio evidence, third party statements, and any other relevant evidence. We also can record witness interviews and create transcripts when appropriate. Below is a summary of common defenses we might raise after completing all discovery.
- Insufficient Evidence: The prosecutor must firmly convince all 6 members of the jury, that the “reckless” driving jeopardized the safety of people or property.
- The driving wasn’t reckless. Committing driving infractions, alone, doesn’t constitute reckless driving. There must be evidence of reckless disregard for persons or property.
- No evidence of Driving. The statute requires that the prosecutor prove you were driving. If no one saw you driving, or can identify you, you may have an excellent defense.
- No pedestrians or vehicles were in harm’s way. One of the elements that the prosecutor must prove is that there was disregard for the safety of persons or property. If your vehicle didn’t create an unsafe situation for others, you’re not guilty.
- Inadequate police investigation. Incomplete or minimal police reporting can create issues in an officer’s ability to adequately recall and describe the driving or circumstances on the roadway.
- Inconsistencies in the officer notes, citation, and subsequent interviews.
- Conflicting testimony.
- Constitutional Violations: Right to counsel, Miranda, and coerced statements can lead to the suppression of evidence or even dismissal.
Q: Should I consult an Arizona Criminal Traffic Attorney for a Reckless Driving Charge?
A: We sincerely believe that you should consult a criminal defense attorney in Mesa. Reckless driving carries a variety of harsh consequences. As such, you should discuss your case with an Arizona criminal lawyer to understand your rights and options. When representing yourself, you must personally appear at all your court dates and litigate against a trained prosecutor.
Neither the judge, nor the prosecutor, have concerns for your circumstances or future. They only see as a number in a long line of Defendants on their docket. The prosecutor’s job is to move your case, convict you, and seek penalties. Mr. Tobin, as a former prosecutor, emphasizes to clients that the prosecutors and judges aren’t there to help you. They’re employed by the government and the government is prosecuting you. That’s why it’s wise to have someone that works for you.
For these reasons, it’s advised that you hire an experienced and dedicated criminal traffic attorney to preserve your legal rights, protect your future, and work towards the best possible outcome.
Tobin Law Office Can Do the Following in Reckless Driving Cases:
- Attend several court dates for you; you won’t need to take valuable time from work or family.
- Negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf.
- Fight the charge at a jury trial.
- Raise constitutional and pre-trial issues.
- Seek a dismissal of the charge.
- Seek a reduction to civil violations.
- Minimize fines, surcharges, and penalties.
- Avoid jail.
- Avoid license suspensions and revocations.
- Avoid points on your driving record.
- Avoid insurance increases.
- Protect your Commercial Driver’s License.
Tobin Law Office offers the following in Reckless Driving Cases:
- Flat Rates and Payment Plans: We defend against reckless driving at a reasonable flat price. This means you’ll know the total price up front with no hidden fees or surprise charges. You’ll find comfort knowing that your rights are protected at a reasonable flat rate. Contact our affordable criminal defense lawyers in Arizona today.
- Former Criminal Traffic Prosecutor: As a former prosecutor of two prosecuting agencies, Mr. Tobin handled reckless driving cases. This provides insight to the other side.
- Excellent Communication and Contact: Mr. Tobin will personally handle your case. You won’t need to go through secretaries or support staff; all clients can directly contact Mr. Tobin by phone, text, and email.
- Free and Confidential Consultations: When you contact our office, you’ll be put in direct contact with Mr. Tobin. He’ll provide you free and friendly advice about your reckless driving case. He’ll also address any concerns to reduce anxieties about your future.
Call or Text Tobin Law Office at 480-447-4837 for a Free Consultation on Reckless Driving.
Mr. Tobin provides free, friendly, and confidential consultations. There’s never a sales pitch. He’s glad to give you as much information as he can to help you understand your reckless driving charge.