Not all traffic offenses are as simple as a citation or warning. Under Ohio law, many traffic citations are considered criminal offenses. If you were pulled over and are now facing criminal charges for reckless driving or other offenses, you are probably worried about what this might mean for you.
If like most people you never imaged facing a charge in criminal court, the fear of what could happen to you in very stressful. And Ohio criminal courts can be very intimidating. You may feel as if you have already been judged and may be wondering if you will be treated fairly in court.
And without an experienced defense lawyer looking out for your interests, you would probably never know if you are being treated particularly harshly for what you are accused of. Our attorneys are there to fight for you, defend you, and protect you. Ultimately, looking out for your best interests is our job.
Find out exactly how we can help by calling for a free legal defense consultation.
Ohio Reckless Driving Laws
Ohio “Operation in Willful or Wanton Disregard”
The technical title of reckless driving in Ohio is “operation in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property“. The law states that you cannot operate your vehicle in such a manner or you will face criminal charges.
This very vague definition allows both law enforcement and the prosecutor decide what exactly fits the “willful and wanton disregard” standard. They use this law to ensure that the Ohio roadways are safe. Things like extreme speeding, racing, following too closely, or swerving through traffic could all be considered a willful or wanton disregard.
However, there are specific traffic statutes that are clearly against the law, that can result in a reckless driving charge or related offense. Aggressive driving, passing a school bus, and tailgating will likely result in a criminal traffic citation.
This offense is typically charged as a minor misdemeanor which means that the maximum penalty is a fine of $150. However, if this isn’t your first offense and you have been convicted of another traffic offense within the past year, you will be charged with a 4th degree misdemeanor and face a potential sentence of up to 30 days in jail and fines up to $250.
If this is your third offense in the past year you may face 3rd degree misdemeanor charges and a potential 60 day jail sentence and up to $500 fine.
Ref: ORC 4511.20
Reckless Driving Charge? Get a Free Criminal Defense Case Evaluation from an Ohio Lawyer
With a criminal charge like reckless driving, there is also a chance that your license will be suspended for a period of time due to an accumulation of points on your record.
Keep in mind that if your auto insurance company knows about your charge, your insurance rates could climb without warning.
For most people, having your driver’s license at stake is a risk to your job and your livelihood. Facing charges that have far reaching effects like these can be frustrating and stressful. We can help. To speak to an Ohio defense lawyer experienced with criminal traffic charges, call us for a free consultation today.