Reckless driving (often referred to as driving to endanger) occurs because of a variety of situations.
Sometimes, the offense is charged alongside a driving under the influence (DUI) charge.
However, reckless driving in Massachusetts can also be charged independently if a law enforcement officer observes you swerving between lanes, speeding, failing to stop at a designated stop sign, drag racing, or running a red light.
Reckless Driving in Massachusetts
Massachusetts General Law Section 24(2)(a) outlines the offense of reckless driving while operating a motor vehicle in any way that could potentially endanger the lives and safety of the public.
It also refers to reckless driving as engaging in drag racing. The definition is extremely broad which affords law enforcement leeway in determining what actions constitute reckless driving.
Is reckless driving a felony or misdemeanor?
In the state of Massachusetts, reckless driving is a misdemeanor and always evaluated on a per incendent basis.
As a criminal charge, there is a fine and in extreme cases incarceration.
In addition, your license might be suspended or even revoked.
In many instances, you may face the charge of reckless driving alongside more severe charges which could be felonies depending on the situation.
Reckless Driving Penalties
The punishment for reckless driving is as follows:
- First-time offenders face a fine of $50 to $500 or imprisonment that ranges from 30 days to two years.
- Second offense, the statute requires a punishment of up to five years in a state prison or 30 days to two and a half years of house arrest. Plus, a fine of up to $1,000.
- Third-time offenders whose offense has occurred within five years of their previous reckless driving conviction will face a fine of up to $1,000 with a minimum imprisonment time of six months at the house of corrections or two and a half years at the state prison.
Also, there is an injury assessment fee of $250 which is leveled against any person who is placed on the provision or given a continuous without a finding on the reckless driving charge. Alternative resolutions mean no conviction, but you still face fines.
Reckless Driving Convictions
To be convicted of reckless driving, a prosecutor is tasked with proving three things beyond any reasonable doubt:
- The accused operated the motor vehicle
- The reckless driving took place in public such as the defendant driving on a public street or anywhere where the public has access.
- The defendant drove in a reckless manner that could have resulted in the death or serious injury of another individual. Also, the defendant failed to appreciate the real risk of their actions.
The judge or jury will be tasked with looking at all the relevant facts to determine the defendant’s guilt.
Factors such as the speed of the vehicle, the driving patterns, the weather, road conditions, time of day, area where the offense took place, and the vehicle’s overall condition all matter when deciding on a charge of reckless driving.
To receive a reckless driving conviction, the driver does not need to injure anyone by their recklessness.
All that matters is that the defendant ignored the potential risk caused by their careless driving.
If someone is injured from reckless driving or an accident happens then the prosecutor must clearly show that the defendant was reckless to obtain a conviction.
Points and Your Insurance
If you are convicted of reckless driving, then you will receive points on your license. With reckless driving, you face two surchargeable points.
However, if you are involved in an accident then you will receive three or four points.
The points will impact your auto insurance. The number of points might also cause a suspension of your license.
Even though the charge of reckless driving is a misdemeanor it is still a profoundly serious criminal offense and you should seek legal representation. Please contact Oberhauser Law today to schedule a consultation.