When you get a ticket, it can be difficult to gauge just how much trouble you’re in, as the penalties for different laws vary across states. By understanding your charges, and the defenses available to you, it’s possible to reduce the charges or be acquitted entirely.
If you’ve been ticketed with reckless driving, don’t just resign yourself to accepting the charge. Joseph Greenwald & Lake Law’s experienced traffic violation defense attorneys know best defenses for reckless driving, and want you to know whether you have a case against any undue claims.
What Does Reckless Driving in Maryland Mean?
In Maryland, a person considered to be guilty of reckless driving must (1) drive a motor vehicle (2) with a “wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property” or "[i]n a manner that indicates a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property." Md. Code, § 21-901.1(a) of the Transportation Article. Examples of reckless driving can be anything from speeding, to drunk driving, to passing another vehicle at a railroad crossing.
Typically, the penalties for a reckless driving violation result in six points against a person’s driving record, resulting in mandatory enrollment in a Driver Improvement Program (DIP). On top of that, individuals found guilty of reckless driving face a possible fine up to $1,000, increased insurance rates, and a mark on their driving record.
There are several defenses that may apply in cases of reckless driving in Maryland:
1. The defendant wasn’t the driver
As in all criminal defense cases, the defendant has to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the charges to stand. That burden of proof isn’t on the defense attorney, but the prosecutor or the Assistant State’s Attorney to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was driving the vehicle when the charges were made. A lack of sufficient evidence can lead to an acquittal or dropping the charges.
2. The driving was not reckless, but inadvisable
In Maryland, reckless driving must be done with intent, or carelessness, for the safety of the people around you. Regardless of whether they’re passengers, pedestrians, or fellow drivers. Depending on why the defendant was charged with reckless driving, an attorney may be able to use evidence to show the defendant was actually negligent, speeding, or making an unwise driving decision.
Negligent driving in Maryland occurs when a person drives his or her vehicle in a careless or imprudent manner, which endangers the life and property of surrounding persons or property in the process. T.A. § 21-901.1(b). It is a similar, but less severe, charge than reckless driving. It results in one or three points added to your driving record, depending if it involved an accident, and a fine up to $500. If this defense was successful, the charge could either be reduced to negligent driving, speeding, or dropped entirely.
3. The driver was distracted not reckless
As previously stated, for driving to be considered reckless in the state of Maryland there must be a willful disregard for other people’s safety or property on the part of the driver. Meaning there must be an element of awareness that their driving is unsafe, and that they’ve decided to ignore the risks.
People who are driving while distracted do not necessarily have that same awareness; their poor driving may occur merely because they aren’t paying enough attention to the road.
4. The defendant’s reckless driving was necessary
To prove that the defendant’s actions were necessary, there must be proof that the defendant had a good reason to commit the offense and there was no alternative action they could have taken. This defense automatically admits that the defendant drove recklessly, but that they were forced to by circumstance.
Situations that can warrant necessity:
- The defendant was under duress, in a situation where they were fleeing from someone trying to harm or kill them.
- There was an emergency, medical or otherwise.
- The defendant was trying to avoid greater harm, their actions were taken to evade another driver’s erratic driving.
Understanding the charges against you is the best weapon you have in defending yourself. Once you’ve determined you have a potential case, your next best weapon is a good attorney.
Trust JGL Law for Reckless Driving Tickets in Maryland
The beauty of our justice system is that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. If you believe that any one of these defenses may apply to your case, reach out to Joseph Greenwald and Lake PA and our seasoned attorneys will help you reach the best outcome for your case.
Schedule a consultation now or call us at 301-220-2200.