Seattle Reckless Driving Laws
Under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.61.500, a driver can be charged with reckless driving when they display “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property”. This is an extremely broad definition and lawmakers likely did this on purpose. When a driver exhibits behavior that is so dangerous that it deserves more than a traffic citation but does not fall under the category of any other criminal offense, police may arrest them for reckless driving.
One common cause or reckless driving charges is driving while intoxicated or DUI. Reckless driving charges are often used as an alternative to DUI charges when there is not enough evidence to convict on a DUI charge. This practice is so common, a reckless driving charge that involves alcohol is often referred to as a “wet reckless”.
What classifies as “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property” can be anything from driving while intoxicated to excessive speeding. In order to be convicted of reckless driving, a driver does not have to intend on causing injuries. No injuries or accident has to have taken place either. For a wet reckless charge to be proven, only 2 things need to be true:
- The suspect was operating a vehicle
- The suspect was intoxicated by drugs or alcohol
How Do I Get a DUI Reduction
When a person is accused of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, almost all of the time they will be charged with DUI. In many cases, the suspect will hire a DUI attorney who investigates the circumstances of the crime. An experienced lawyer will know how to build a defense case by challenging evidence and coming up with a strong defense strategy. Prosecutors do not like to lose cases. If they believe that there is a good chance that they will not be able to prove DUI in court, they may reduce the charges to something less difficult to prove like reckless driving.
In some cases, the prosecution may even offer a plea deal. In order for them to avoid taking every case to trial, a prosecutor will often offer plea bargains to defendants with strong defenses. A typical plea bargain involves the defendant agreeing to plead guilty in exchange for a preferential sentence. Often this involves pleading guilty to a lesser charge like reckless driving. Reckless driving charges are generally less serious than DUI offenses but still carry additional penalties when alcohol is involved.
Reckless Driving Penalties in Seattle
The penalties for a reckless driving offense are not as steep as a DUI offense. This makes it more preferable as the sentences are lighter and there is less stigma associated with it. Still, a person can still face jail time and other negative consequences, especially if they are repeat offender. Reckless driving is a gross misdemeanor and a conviction will result in the following penalties:
- Up to three hundred sixty-four days in jail
- Up to $5,000 in fines Not less than 30 days of driver's license suspension
- Possible installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
Ignition Interlock Devices
Ignition Interlock Devices or IIDs are small machines that are installed in the driver's side of an offender's vehicle. These devices require the driver to give a breath sample before starting the engine and again while driving. The device measures the amount of alcohol in the driver's system and records it. If the alcohol content is over the legal limit of .08%, the device will not allow the engine to start. What lawmakers believe is that devices are the best way to ensure repeat offenders do not continue the pattern of drinking and driving. These devices have proven to be very successful in reducing the number of repeat DUI offenders. Unfortunately, these devices only monitor alcohol impairment not drugs.
If a person has previously been convicted of a DUI or a DUI related offense and are convicted of reckless driving in Seattle, they will face mandatory ignition interlock device installation in order to get their license reinstated. In some cases a defendant can choose to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in order to avoid license suspension.
Seattle Reckless Driving Attorney
If you are facing a reckless driving or DUI charge in Seattle, call us now. Attorney Steve Karimi is not only a hard working Seattle DUI lawyer, he cares about his clients. The best way to avoid the penalties of a criminal charge is to avoid conviction. Only an experienced legal professional understands the best ways to fight a case.
Even when clients believe that they have no options but to plead guilty, attorney Karimi is able to show them what he can do to help. Call now for a free consultation and find out more about how we can put our experience to work assisting you.