When the blue and red flashing lights appeared in your rearview mirror, you probably thought you were about to get a speeding ticket. That would have been an annoyance, but it’s something most people have gone through before. That’s not what happened, though. Instead, you got charged with reckless driving.
If you’re like most people in this situation, you’re panicking. You now have a criminal charge — not a traffic citation. What is the Washington state reckless driving law? How can you fight this charge? The good news is that you can fight this charge. To learn more about Washington state’s reckless driving charges, read on or reach out to the criminal defense lawyers at Will & Will.
Washington State Reckless Driving Speed
We get this question a lot: Is there a speed limit is considered reckless driving? The answer is not cut and dry. In the Revised Code of Washington, Section 46.61.502, you are considered guilty of reckless driving if you were driving “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
The keywords to pay attention to in this statute are “willful and wanton.” In other words, reckless driving occurs when a motorist intentionally (willfully) drives in a manner that clearly could cause harm (with wanton disregard) to a person or piece of property.
Notice that this law does not define a specific speed for reckless driving. However, another statute, Revised Code of Washington, Section 46.61.470, says that the “operation of a vehicle in excess of the maximum lawful speeds” is evidence of reckless driving.
Here’s what that tells us: The Washington state reckless driving speed limit is a judgment call made by the arresting officer and the prosecuting attorney. Although it’s unlikely, you could theoretically be charged with reckless driving for exceeding a posted speed limit. It is more likely that you would be charged with reckless driving if you are in gross excess of the posted speed limit, if you are swerving in and out of traffic, etc.
Penalties for Reckless Driving
Washington state reckless driving charges come with some harsh punishments, if you’re convicted. These include a mark on your record, jail time, fines, and a suspension of your driver’s license.
Reckless driving is a gross misdemeanor in Washington state. That means you will have a criminal record if you are convicted. And this record could affect your reputation and job prospects. While they are not felonies, gross misdemeanors are considered more serious than simple misdemeanors. The maximum punishment for a gross misdemeanor conviction in Washington state is nearly one year in custody/$5000 fine.
Exceeding the Washington state reckless driving speed and getting convicted of this crime could land you in jail. For a gross misdemeanor, you could be sentenced to up to 364 days behind bars.
As if jail time wasn’t bad enough, you could also face fines of up to $5,000 for reckless driving.
30-Day License Suspension
Those fines will be difficult to pay if you can’t get to work, but transportation could become another problem. That’s because you may have your driver’s license suspended for 30 days in Washington state for reckless driving.
This all sounds like bad news, and it is. But it’s important to remember that a reckless driving charge is not the same thing as a conviction. You can fight your charge and try to avoid a conviction and these penalties. Read on to learn how.
How to Proceed if Faced with a Reckless Driving Charge
When you’re charged with reckless driving, you probably have a lot of questions. Why was I charged with Reckless Driving? Do I have to go to court? Can I beat the charge? These are important questions that a trusted defense lawyer can provide answers to.
Speaking with a lawyer is a key step in fighting a Washington state reckless driving charge. We can help you build a defense to your charge — one that could help you put this all behind you.
In Need of an Attorney? Contact Will & Will
If you’ve been accused of reckless driving in Washington state, here’s what you need to do: call a lawyer. At Will & Will, we have in-depth experience helping people in exactly your situation fight their reckless driving charges.
As a husband and wife legal team, we collaborate on every case. That means you get the attention of two experienced lawyers when you call our firm. While building your defense, we keep you informed at every step and put our more than 35 years of experience to work for you.
Ready to stop worrying about your reckless driving charge and start fighting back? It’s time to call Will & Will. Call 206-209-5585 or contact us online today.