If you or a loved one are facing charges for reckless driving in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, you could be facing both criminal and administrative fines and penalties if convicted. Here is what you need to know about the crime and how it is handled in Tahlequah.
Reckless Driving Defined
In Oklahoma, reckless driving is defined as driving carelessly or wantonly without regard for the safety of persons or property around you. Okla. Stat. tit. 47 § 11-901
What may seem fine to you may be deemed “reckless” under the law. A Tahlequah attorney is in the best position to advise you.
In general, a driver must exercise due care while driving. In fact, the law imposes a duty on drivers to do so. Anything that distracts a driver can create a dangerous situation that can imperil another person or another person’s property.
We all know that distracted driving can cause an accident. That is why we are cautioned against texting, eating, or applying makeup while driving.
However, reckless driving moves beyond “distracted driving.” Driving in a careless or wanton manner implies a clear disregard for the health and safety of others. This is a broad statute is meant to cover a number of situations.
Elements Of The Crime
All laws in Oklahoma have legal elements that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the prosecution to secure a conviction. For reckless driving, these elements are:
- a motor vehicle
- in a careless or wanton manner
- with disregard for the safety of people or property;
- in violation of speed limits;
- exceeding a reasonable speed that a reasonable and prudent person would have considered to be appropriate given the road and traffic conditions;
- at an excessive speed that makes it difficult or impossible to safely stop.
The statute employs a “reasonable person” standard. Thus, even if you think it is reasonable to drive at 60 mph down a city street, if the average reasonable person believes that is too fast and that you put others at risk by doing so, you may be convicted of reckless driving.
It is important to know that excessive speed, while not the only factor in determining liability, is often a significant factor. A speed of 50 mph alone may not be sufficient for a conviction, but a speed of 50 mph where children or the elderly are present may be.
The faster the speed, the more likely that your speed alone will be enough for a conviction. Speeds over 90 or 100 mph alone may be sufficient.
Also, speed in light of existing conditions may lay the ground for a conviction. For example, thick fog would warrant a slower speed. Thus, driving at an excessive speed when you cannot see the road clearly in front of you may be sufficient for a conviction.
Likewise, ingesting alcohol or any other intoxicant and driving may be enough for a conviction.
Any driving that shows disregard for the safety of others or property can be sufficient.
This crime is often charged either alone or along with a DUI. Some DUIs can be pleaded down to reckless driving depending on the circumstances; however, both DUI and reckless driving carry heavy penalties.
Case Law Examples
These examples are illustrative of situations in which courts have found a defendant’s actions to rise to the level of reckless driving:
- an intoxicated driver forcing other drivers off the road (Wolf v. State, 375 P.2d 283 (Okl. Cr. 1966));
- speeding at 100 to 105 mph (Matchen v. State, 349 P.2d 28 (Okl. Cr. 1960));
- passing other cars in such a way as to force them off the road (Hooper v. State, 348 P.2d 191 (Okl. Cr. 1959)); and
- being intoxicated and driving 80 mph in a 55 mph zone, causing an accident (Sullivan v. State, 333 P.2d 591 (Okl. Cr. 1958)).
Penalties For Reckless Driving
The crime is a misdemeanor in Tahlequah. A first conviction is punishable by 5 to 90 days of jail time, a fine between $100 and $500, or both.
Repeat convictions bring harsher penalties. You can spend up to six months in jail for a repeat offense.
You will also be subject to points against your license or even license suspension or revocation, depending on the circumstances.
Free Consultation: Tahlequah Criminal Defense Lawyer
Please contact a Tahlequah criminal defense lawyer to discuss your available legal options if you’ve been charged with reckless driving in Oklahoma.
For a free consultation, call Wirth Law Office – Tahlequah at 918-458-2677 or toll free at 1-888-447-7262.
Or, if you prefer e-mail, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page and we’ll contact you by e-mail as soon as possible.