Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense in Arizona. That means it’s a crime, not just a traffic ticket, so you have a criminal record if you’re convicted of reckless driving. While a first conviction is treated as a Class 2 Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 4 months in jail and a $750 fine, a second reckless driving conviction in two years is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $2500 fine. Worse, a second conviction requires a mandatory 20-day jail sentence, minimum. That’s much more than you get for a regular first-time DUI conviction!
A reckless driving conviction can also have serious consequences to your Arizona driver’s license. Upon conviction, the judge has the option of requiring you to surrender your license and can order a 90-day suspension. It is an 8-point violation, just like a DUI, so no matter what the judge does in the criminal case, the Arizona MVD will require Traffic Survival School to avoid a license suspension. However, if you have already taken Traffic Survival School within the past two years, the MVD will suspend your license for 3-months. A second conviction within two years will result in a one-year revocation of your driver’s license.
Reckless Driving Statute: ARS 28-693
The Arizona reckless driving statute is pretty subjective. It says that anyone who “drives a vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” There is no further explanation about what kind of driving behavior constitutes “reckless disregard,” so it’s open to interpretation. As a result, overzealous police officers can end up charging people with reckless driving when it’s really not appropriate.
Unfortunately, when these cases go to court, you don’t have a right to a jury trial. Instead, you get a bench trial (where a judge plays the role of a jury and decides whether you are guilty or not guilty). Nevertheless, a judge may not agree with the police officer that your driving behavior displayed a reckless disregard for safety.
When you are facing criminal charges with significant consequences, especially charges involving very subjective laws like Reckless Driving in Arizona, it is critical that you are represented by an attorney who has experience handling these kinds of cases. Nathan Leonardo has successfully defended many people in Tucson against reckless driving charges. For a free case evaluation, call our Tucson, Arizona office at (520) 314-4125 or contact us online.
Consult the following links for more information about Arizona Criminal and DUI laws, as well as local court information: