Is Reckless Driving A Felony?

Is Reckless Driving A Felony?

Updated June 21, 2024

California, boasting more than 14 million registered vehicles, holds the distinction of having the highest vehicle population in the United States, a figure nearly double that of any other state.

Given the sheer volume of traffic, the Golden State also sees thousands of fatalities on our roads every year, along with many more injuries. Among the leading culprits behind these tragedies is reckless driving.

In this blog post, we will ask and answer the question, "Is reckless driving a felony in California?" We'll look at what exactly constitutes reckless driving, its potential legal ramifications, and what to do if you find yourself facing charges in the state. Let's get started.

What Constitutes Reckless Driving in California?

Reckless driving in California is precisely defined under the California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 23103. According to this statute, reckless driving entails operating a vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or property.

Examples of reckless driving behaviors include excessive speeding, where drivers travel at speeds significantly higher than the posted limit or too fast for road conditions, endangering the lives of other road users.

Weaving in and out of traffic is another example. It involves abruptly changing lanes without signaling or regard for other vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists nearby. Tailgating, or following other vehicles too closely, also reduces reaction time and increases the risk of rear-end collisions. 

Running red lights or stop signs involves ignoring traffic signals and signs, potentially causing T-bone collisions or pedestrian accidents. Additionally, driving under the influence (DUI) occurs when operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication, impairing judgment and reaction time.

Is Reckless Driving a Felony? 

The short answer here is that, in California, reckless driving can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.

A misdemeanor is a less serious offense, typically resulting in penalties such as fines, probation, or a short jail sentence. On the other hand, a felony is a more serious crime, carrying harsher penalties, including longer prison sentences.

The penalties for reckless driving in California vary depending on whether it is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, reckless driving can result in fines of up to $1,000 and/or a jail sentence of up to 90 days.

If charged as a felony, penalties may include fines, a longer prison sentence, and the loss of driving privileges. A common example of a felony reckless driving in California is reckless driving causing serious injury. (VC 23105) Additionally, individuals convicted of felony reckless driving may face collateral consequences such as difficulty finding employment or obtaining insurance.

Factors That Can Elevate Reckless Driving

Certain aggravating circumstances can elevate reckless driving to a felony in California. These circumstances include factors such as causing serious bodily injury or death to another person while driving recklessly. Additionally, driving recklessly while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can increase the severity of the offense and result in felony charges.

Previous convictions for reckless driving or other related offenses can also contribute to elevating a reckless driving ticket to a felony. Repeat offenders may face harsher penalties, including felony charges, as the court may view them as posing a greater risk to public safety.

Additionally, previous convictions for DUI or other serious traffic offenses can be considered in determining the severity of the offense and the appropriate penalties.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged?

Now, let's consider a scenario where you find yourself charged with reckless driving in California. What steps should you take? Let's break it down for you.

Stay Calm and Cooperate

Firstly, when facing reckless driving charges in California, it's crucial to remain calm and cooperate with law enforcement officers. Avoid arguing or becoming confrontational, as this could escalate the situation and potentially harm your case.

Always follow the instructions of the officers and provide necessary information, such as your driver's license and vehicle registration, while exercising your right to remain silent.

Understand Your Rights

As someone charged with reckless driving, you have certain rights under the law. It's essential to understand these rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to legal representation.

Refrain from making statements or admissions to law enforcement without consulting with an attorney, as anything you say can be used against you in court.

Seek Legal Advice

One of the most critical steps to take when charged with reckless driving is to seek legal advice from a qualified attorney. At FYourTicket, we specialize in traffic ticket defense and have a team of experienced lawyers dedicated to protecting your rights.

By scheduling a free case assessment with us, you can receive personalized guidance and learn about your legal options for defending against reckless driving charges. We have more than 10 years of experience in defending our clients against driving charges and driving tickets.

Prepare for Court Appearances

As your case progresses, it's essential to prepare for court appearances and proceedings. Your attorney at FYourTicket will guide you through this process, ensuring that you understand court procedures and requirements.

We will also work with you to gather evidence and witnesses to support your defense, if applicable, and develop a strategic defense strategy tailored to your case.

Follow Court Orders

Throughout the legal process, it's vital to comply with any court orders and conditions imposed by the judge. Failure to comply could result in additional penalties or consequences.

Our team at FYourTicket will advise you on the importance of adhering to court orders and provide assistance in fulfilling any requirements, such as attending hearings or completing community service.

Navigating Reckless Driving Charges With FYourTicket

To sum up, when asking the question "Is reckless driving a felony?" in California, it's essential to seek experienced legal guidance. At FYourTicket, our top traffic ticket defense law firm in Southern California, we specialize in navigating such charges.

If you're facing reckless driving charges, don't face them alone. Schedule a free case assessment with us today to learn how we can advocate for your rights and pursue the best outcome.

Trust FYourTicket to be your strong ally in addressing reckless driving charges effectively.