Reckless Driving Illinois
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As drivers, one of our most important jobs is to be careful. The average motor vehicle weighs thousands of pounds, and if we are irresponsible while driving, we could seriously hurt someone or damage property.
Even if you take your duties as a driver seriously, we all make mistakes sometimes. If a police officer stops you for making a “reckless” mistake, you may not just receive a traffic ticket. Instead, you could be charged with the criminal offense of reckless driving. A conviction for reckless driving may lead to jail time, steep fines, and other consequences.
There are ways to fight back against reckless driving charges or to avoid jail time. A skilled Chicago reckless driving lawyer can review the facts of your case, advise you of your options, and fight for you in court.
Illinois Reckless Driving Laws
Under Illinois law, reckless driving may be charged whenever a person:
- Drives any vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property; or
- Knowingly drives a vehicle and uses an incline in a roadway, such as a railroad crossing, bridge approach, or hill, to cause the vehicle to become airborne.
This statute is worded broadly, which means that any number of things could be charged as reckless driving. If you drive in an unsafe or negligent way, you may be charged with this crime, which is a Class A misdemeanor in most cases.
For example, you could get a reckless driving ticket for:
- Speeding through a construction zone
- Driving at night with your headlights off
- Texting while driving
- Talking on the phone while driving
- Changing lanes without leaving enough space
- Running a red light or a stop sign
- Fleeing the police
- Swerving between lanes
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (DUI)
- Racing other vehicles
- Failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks or to stop for school buses picking up or dropping off children
- Traveling at a high rate of speed (which may also be charged as aggravated speeding)
As demonstrated by this list of driving behaviors that could lead to a reckless driving charge, the police have a fair amount of discretion when it comes to this criminal offense. In essence, if your driving puts the safety of others in jeopardy in any way, you could be charged with reckless driving.
In most cases, reckless driving is a misdemeanor, which is a less serious criminal charge. However, if another person is harmed, you could be charged with aggravated reckless driving, which is a felony:
- If a child or school crossing guard suffers bodily harm while you are reckless driving, you may be charged with a Class 4 felony.
- If a person suffers great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement while you are reckless driving, you may be charged with a Class 4 felony.
- If a child or a school crossing guard suffers great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement while you are reckless driving, you may be charged with a Class 4 felony.
Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, a conviction for reckless driving will lead to serious consequences, including possible jail time. Unlike other types of traffic offenses, this will lead to a criminal record. If you have been charged with any type of reckless driving, it is critical that you reach out to a defense attorney in Cook, Lake, or DuPage County as soon as possible.
What Are the Penalties for a Reckless Driving Charge in Illinois?
Reckless driving is a criminal offense. Depending on how it is charged, you could face a range of consequences.
When charged as a Class A misdemeanor, reckless driving is punishable by a maximum of 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. However, if you are charged with aggravated reckless driving, the consequences increase significantly. For a Class 4 felony, you can be sentenced to between 1 and 3 years of imprisonment, while a Class 3 felony conviction may result in a sentence of imprisonment of 2 to 5 years. For both felony charges, the court may impose a fine of up to $25,000 per offense.
A reckless driving conviction carries other consequences as well. Your insurance rates will increase, and your driving privileges will likely be affected.
Illinois uses a point system for traffic offenses. If you are convicted of a violation of the state’s traffic laws, points will be assigned to your driving record. A driver who is convicted of three or more offenses within a 12 month period (or 2 or more within a 24 month period if under the age of 21) will have their driver’s license suspended or revoked, depending on the number of points accumulated.
A conviction for reckless driving will result in 55 points on your driving record. However, if you are convicted of aggravated reckless driving, then your driver’s license will be immediately suspended or revoked – even if it is your first offense.
A skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to put together a strong defense to reckless driving charges. Because Illinois law does not specify which driving behaviors can lead to a reckless driving offense, your attorney could put together an argument for why the charge should be reduced or dismissed. Because reckless driving is more than a simple traffic ticket, it is vital that you consult with a defense lawyer as soon as possible after being charged with this crime.
Can I Get Court Supervision for a Reckless Driving Charge?
It is possible to get court supervision for an Illinois reckless driving conviction if the offense is not a felony (i.e., aggravated reckless driving). You also cannot have a prior conviction for a DUI or court supervision for reckless driving or DUI.
However, if you receive court supervision for reckless driving, then you will not be eligible for court supervision for either reckless driving or a DUI conviction in the future. The reason why is that prosecutors sometimes plead DUI cases down to reckless driving. To avoid a driver being able to get supervision after one or more DUIs that were pled to reckless driving, the Illinois legislature changed the law to allow just one court supervision for either reckless driving or DUI.
There are a lot of advantages to court supervision. Primarily, if you complete the terms of your supervision (such as doing community service, paying fines, and attending traffic safety school), then you can avoid a conviction on your record. Court supervision is up to the discretion of the judge. Importantly, court supervision might not be the best outcome for you and your case. Your best option is to work with a reckless driving attorney who can advocate to achieve the best possible outcome.
Can I Have a Reckless Driving Conviction Expunged?
You may be able to have a sentence of supervision or conviction for reckless driving expunged or sealed if (1) the offense occurred before you were 25 years old and (2) you have no other convictions for DUI or reckless driving. Expungement is a process by which you can have your criminal record sealed, which means that it will no longer be publicly available. In Illinois, expungement is only available on a limited basis.
Will I Lose My Driver’s License If I Am Convicted of Reckless Driving?
Possibly. Under Illinois law, your driving privileges will be immediately suspended or revoked if you are convicted of aggravated reckless driving (i.e., reckless driving where another person suffered bodily harm). In addition, if you have three or more traffic offenses in a 12 month period, or two or more in a 24 month period if you are under the age of 21, then your license will be suspended or revoked.
Generally, the greater the number of points that you accumulate, the longer your driver’s license suspension will be. If you reach 110 points or 80 points (for someone under the age of 21) in this time frame, then your driver’s license will be revoked.
Importantly, if you are not convicted of reckless driving or another traffic violation, then the points will not be assigned to your driving record – protecting your right to drive. For this reason, it is important to reach out to an Illinois reckless driving lawyer as soon as possible after being charged with this offense.
Don’t Plead Guilty to Reckless Driving – Call Us Today.
Being stopped by a police officer for a moving violation can be incredibly scary – particularly when you don’t just get a ticket, but are arrested and charged with a crime. While you may be overwhelmed by your situation, know that you don’t have to just plead guilty and accept whatever sentence the judge gives you. Driver Defense Team will advocate on your behalf, working to make sure that you get the best possible outcome.
Our law firm represents clients throughout the greater Chicago area, including Cook County, Dupage County, and Lake County. For each client, we put our experience and knowledge of Illinois traffic laws to work to protect their rights and their freedom. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago traffic violation attorneys, call or text us at 312-940-8330, or email us at any time.