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What Is Considered Reckless Driving in Arizona? How a Simple Mistake Can Turn into Jail Time

The Statute: ARS 28-693

“A. A person who drives a vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

The reckless driving statute itself is very vague. Meaning, you could get charged with this class 2 misdemeanor for almost anything an officer considered to be reckless. For example:

  • Weaving through traffic
  • Illegal passing
  • Illegal use of a curb or shoulder
  • Ignoring traffic signs & signals

One of the biggest problems on the road today is distracted driving, and some states have categorized texting while driving that results in the endangerment of others as reckless driving. Arizona, Missouri, and Montana are the only three states that do not have a ban on texting and driving, but that does not mean you can’t get charged for it, especially if an officer believes you were doing something dangerous.

What speed is considered reckless driving?

Arizona reckless driving is pretty easy to accomplish. Speeding 25mph over posted limits is basically what 80% of drivers on any given road or freeway are doing, and all that is needed to get you charged with reckless driving here in Arizona. It’s more likely that keeping up with traffic on the 101, you’ll be going at least 75, which is 10mph over the posted limit already. It’s almost unfair, but driving like this happens so often here, that Arizonans get a lot of leeway from law enforcement unless they are doing something obviously reckless.

However, there are many more reasons you can be charged with reckless driving. Living in Scottsdale, AZ, we see this kind of driving on a regular basis, from sports cars racing each other, vehicles with outrageous customizations or other dangerous flaws, even tailgating can be considered reckless driving. A little hot-rodding, or showing off, can get you into some serious trouble

In addition, we also live in a very social age where Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, and countless other platforms are being used and posted on while driving. Getting that perfect picture or video behind the wheel can and will land you with a reckless driving charge in most states. And although AZ lawmakers have yet to ban everyone from cellphone use while driving, they were smart enough to ban it to beginners behind the wheel for their first six months. So, if you’re under eighteen, the penalties can be more serious for distracted driving.

The Charge:

“B. A person convicted of reckless driving is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.

Once charged with reckless driving, the judge may require the surrender of any driver license privileges to be suspended for a period of up to ninety days. Could you imagine not having a car here in the summer, or worse, having to take public transportation in that heat?

Arizona has implemented a point system for moving violations that will stay on your driving record for 12 months, and a reckless driving charge is one of the highest in the point system, right up there with DUI, Extreme DUI, and Aggressive Driving. Reckless driving is an eight-point offense, and according to this system, if you acquire eight or more points on your record, you will be required to attend Traffic Survival School, or worse, your license will be suspended for 12 months!

violations

Furthermore, if you are charged a second time within 24 months, you will move up to a class 1 misdemeanor — the penalties for a second charge of reckless driving in Arizona include a harsh sentence of at least 20 days in jail and the revoke of your driving privileges for good.

Reckless Driving & Reckless Endangerment

Especially relevant, if your reckless driving endangered another person, with a substantial risk of imminent death or physical injury — you could be facing a Class 6 Felony.

There are lots of ways for what is considered reckless driving, to become reckless endangerment. Unfortunately, one of the more common ones we see here in Scottsdale is parents doing one of the many reckless things on the menu for this charge — with kids in tow.

Most commonly, drinking and driving — so many times we have seen a mother or father who have taken their children to a spring training game, sporting event, soccer practice, or just on a playdate where alcohol was consumed. These aren’t bad or troubled people either, they are regular people who have made a very common mistake.

When children under the age of 15 are in the car with someone who is under the influence of alcohol or any other mind-altering substance, driving under the influence (DUI/DWI) charge instantly becomes a Class 6 felony DUI charge, whether it is a first offense or a repeat offense.

A felony conviction often brings extended jail or prison time, large fees and fines, and long-term license revocation. Prosecutors may pursue added charges that may include child abuse or child endangerment.

It is important to understand the long-term implications of a felony criminal record. With a conviction, your future options and choices may be limited, especially in areas such as:

  • Voting rights
  • Insurance
  • Education
  • Gun possession
  • Credit
  • Career
  • Employment opportunities
  • Parenting time

This mistake has huge consequences, you may not feel like a felon picking up your kids from grandmas house after a work happy hour, and let’s not let it come to that. At Sonoran Law Group, we fight for you as if it were our own reputation on the line.

In conclusion, it’s just not worth it. Stay safe out there, buy a really good insurance policy for yourself and your family members that will include attorneys fees, ask our friends at Desert Insurance Solutions if you’re covered, and should you, or someone you care about, get charged with any of the above — call Sonoran Law Group!