Author Archives: RLF Attorneys

Pothole Dodging and Reckless Driving

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

In New York, dodging potholes is practically an art form. One website even ranked New York City sixth worst city in America for potholes. Most of drivers would prefer to avoid the risk of a bent rim or damaged undercarriage, and will try to give potholes a wide berth. Drivers who aren’t cautious, however, could get nailed with something even worse than damage to the car: a reckless driving charge.

In order to be charged with reckless driving, a driver has to commit an act or acts that fulfill two criteria. The first is to demonstrate a conscious disregard for the safety of other drivers. The second criterion is that the action must represent a gross deviation from the standard of conduct. In other words, it is not a normal response to the situation.

In most cases, a minor swerve around a pothole would not be considered unsafe or a gross deviation. In order to justify the charge, your action would have to be fairly extreme. For example, if you swerved very suddenly, jumped all the way into the other lane, and nearly (or actually) caused an accident, that could be justification. You could also face a charge if you swerved into oncoming traffic, which an officer would almost certainly see as a gross deviation of normal conduct.

Reckless driving can also apply in situations where drivers commit multiple serious infractions. In the case of dodging potholes, if you commit an unsafe lane change while driving at a truly excessive rate of speed – or worse, while drunk – that increases your chances of a reckless driving charge (on top of tickets for the other infractions).

A reckless driving charge is a serious crime and a conviction means that you will have a permanent criminal record. This in addition to up to 30 days in jail, nearly $400 in fines, and five points on your license. If you or a loved one has been charged with reckless driving or any other traffic related offense in New York, you need the help of a skilled attorney. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced criminal defense and traffic attorneys who can help protect your legal rights. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm for a free consultation about your case today.

Why Police Are Engaging in Fewer High-Speed Chases

Fleeing from the police is an extraordinarily dangerous decision. Statewide, between 1995 and 2015, there were 100 deaths tied to high-speed police chases. Among those killed, one-fifth were pedestrians or other drivers. The majority — 78 — were people in the fleeing vehicles. In order to reduce these fatalities, some police agencies have put new rules in place for high-speed police chases. The result has been a sharp decline in the rate of injury and death among officers, suspects, and innocent civilians.

Rochester Police Department is one of several law enforcement agencies to implement new policies that only allow vehicle chases for known or suspected violent felons. Officials with the Rochester PD told USA Today that limiting officers’ authority to initiate a chase has played a critical role in reducing crashes related to high speed chases.

The department has an 18-page policy on pursuits that describes what tactics can be employed and the criteria under which a chase is allowed. Officers must also notify supervisors immediately when a chase begins, and officials at the precinct will continuously monitor the pursuit to decide if it should be terminated.

“The officer involved in a pursuit is already multi-tasking,” said Deputy Chief Scott Peters. “He’s activating his lights, talking on the radio, observing what’s happening. He may not be looking at the big picture. Having a boss responsible for making the decision about whether to pursue gives us a degree of separation.”

Under the new rules defined by the RPD policy, officers engaging in a chase are required to keep radio transmissions to a bare minimum, only reporting updates on their location as safety permits. In addition, chases are now limited to two police vehicles and one supervisor in a vehicle. Officers on motorcycles are not allowed to take part in chases except in the most critical circumstances. Police are also barred from overtaking the suspect vehicle, as well as from boxing in or ramming it.

If a pursued suspect heads the wrong way on a highway, police are not allowed to follow. Instead, they must travel parallel on the correct side of the highway while keeping the suspect in their sights. The policy dictates that back-up units monitor any possible exits for if/when the suspect tries to get off the highway.

The new rules on police chases should not be taken as a sign to try fleeing the police. Even if you did escape, odds are you’ll still get caught; police often use GPS and other technologies to track and arrest suspects at their home or other places they frequent.

A police chase will only make your situation worse as you will likely be charged with fleeing an officer in addition to the initial charges. Fleeing an officer is at a minimum a misdemeanor and a conviction could mean up to one year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines. In more serious situations, such as if someone was killed during the chase, it can be upgraded to a felony. A felony-level charge carries the potential for up to seven years in prison.

In addition, depending on your actions, you could be charged with reckless driving. Reckless driving charges apply in any scenario in which you put the safety of other drivers or pedestrians at risk. This might include going the wrong way on a main road or highway, or speeding through a pedestrian-heavy area.

If you or a loved one has been charged with fleeing a police officer, reckless driving, or any other traffic related offense in New York, it is essential that you retain a skilled attorney to help fight the serious consequences you may face. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced criminal defense and traffic attorneys who will work for you to make sure your legal rights are protected. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm for a free consultation about your case today.

When Is Reckless Driving Considered Murder?

Reckless driving is a serious offense; the charge is reserved for drivers whose actions demonstrate a blatant disregard for the safety of others. At what point, though, does reckless driving become murder?

What we call murder in layman’s terms is broken down into many different legal classifications. Unless you truly intended to kill or clearly knew that your actions could have killed someone, it is unlikely you would be charged with murder for driving-related offenses. In most situations, you would face a charge of either aggravated vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter in the first or second degree.

Vehicular manslaughter in the second degree implies that while the accident was truly an accident – i.e. you didn’t intend to kill or hurt anyone – it was the result of serious negligence on your part. Common factors include being legally drunk (BAC over 0.08) or impaired by drugs, or if the vehicle contained hazardous chemicals. A conviction for vehicular manslaughter in the second degree means facing up to seven years in prison.

First-degree vehicular manslaughter applies when even more aggravating circumstances come into play. This could include a BAC of 0.18 or more, if more than one person was killed, if you were convicted of drunk driving in last 10 years, or if a minor under the age of 15 was killed. A conviction for vehicular manslaughter in the first degree carries a potential prison sentence of 15 years.  

In cases where multiple serious factors like the ones mentioned above are involved, you could face the more serious charge of aggravated vehicular homicide. One example would be if your blood-alcohol was particularly high – above 0.18 – and you had a past DUI conviction. If convicted, you are looking at up to 25 years in prison.

Compared to vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving is a far less serious charge, but that doesn’t mean you should take it lightly! A conviction for reckless driving can cost you up to $400 in fines and carries five points on your license. This is in addition to a possible sentence of up to 30 days in jail. Plus, your auto insurance rates will undoubtedly go through the roof.

If you or a loved one has been charged with reckless driving, drunk driving, or any other serious traffic violation in New York, you need to retain a skilled attorney immediately. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced criminal defense and traffic attorneys who have helped many people in similar circumstances. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm for a free consultation about your case today.

Are New Yorkers Better Drivers? Reports Tell Conflicting Stories

What makes a road safe? Is it a low number of deadly accidents or drivers with good driving habits? Every year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), auto insurance companies, and other organizations release reports analyzing driving habits, traffic violations, and accident data to determine which state has the safest roads.

The recent release of two studies proves just how hard it is to quantify road safety. A report from SafeWise, an online resource for home security and safety information, ranked New York the third safest state based on traffic fatalities and related factors. SafeWise pointed out NY’s lower than average speed limits, higher levels of congestion, fewer instances of drunk driving, and solid enforcement of seat belts laws to explain this conclusion.

New York didn’t fare so well in a similar study conducted by EverQuote, an online auto insurance marketplace. EverQuote compiled data from its free app, which uses smartphone GPS to track driving habits. New York ranked 20th in the country for good driving habits, and scored very poorly for various specific actions. For example, New York was found to be the 12th worst state for speeding. It was also ranked seventh for instances of hard braking and sixth for risky acceleration. However, the app found that New Yorkers were the 10th best drivers when it came to using the phone behind the wheel, perhaps due to the state’s stringent distracted driving consequences.

While both reports ranked New York differently, there is some correlation in the metrics used. For example, EverQuote’s data on hard stops and riskier acceleration make sense given New York’s greater levels of congestion (as observed by SafeWise), since traffic jams tend to bring out such behaviors. Drivers are also less likely to be involved in fatal car accidents when stuck in traffic.

The bottom line is that which state has the safest roads depends heavily on the metrics used. Since SafeWise primarily focused on traffic fatalities in its study, rather than specific bad driving habits, and New York ranked much higher. Fatalities were not factored into EverQuote’s results, and New York’s ranking dropped accordingly.

If you or a loved one has been charged with reckless driving, drunk driving, speeding, or any other traffic-related offense in New York, it is imperative that you retain a skilled attorney to help you fight the serious consequences you may face. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced criminal defense and traffic attorneys who will work for you to make sure your legal rights are protected. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm for a free consultation about your case today.

When Rockin’ Out is Reckless Driving

Back in January, two FDNY emergency medical technicians ended up in hot water when a video surfaced of one of them rocking out behind the wheel of an ambulance. The video showed the driver bouncing and bopping in his seat as the ambulance barreled down the road in the rain. City officials were quick to slam the act as reckless.

It’s normal to enjoy tunes behind the wheel, and it’s not uncommon to get carried away with your favorite songs, whether it’s head-banging to “Bohemian Rhapsody” or dancing along to Justin Bieber. At what point, though, does rocking out become reckless driving?

In order to get charged with reckless driving, you must commit an act that unreasonably endangers fellow drivers, pedestrians, or cyclists. In the case of the ambulance driver, his eyes were off the road for a substantial amount of time as he mugged for the camera. In addition, he took his hands off the wheel, which meant there were moments when he had no control of the vehicle. The rain only exacerbated the risk. There was no justification for this action that would lead any reasonable person to act in this manner.

Does that mean you can’t enjoy your music while driving? Of course you can! There’s no inherent risk to singing in the car. In order to avoid a reckless driving charge, however, you must keep your attention on the road and your surroundings. Glancing at your friend while you drive is not likely to cause an accident, but extended periods of time with your gaze off the road – either posing for a camera or flailing your head about – presents a serious risk. In addition, keep at least one hand (if not both) on the wheel. Also, if the weather is bad, consider turning down or turning off the music in order to reduce distractions.

Reckless driving more than a traffic violation; it is a serious crime that can result in up to up to 30 days in jail, plus nearly $400 in fines and five points on your license. A conviction means you will have a permanent criminal record. If you or a loved one has been charged with reckless driving for your “Carpool Karaoke,” you need the help of a skilled attorney. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced criminal defense and traffic attorneys who can help make you a “Free Bird.” Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm for a free consultation about your case today.

The Difference Between Reckless Endangerment and Reckless Driving

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Earlier this year, a driver in Brooklyn swerved to get around another car, hopped the curb, and struck a teen boy. The driver, Guo Lu, was charged with reckless endangerment, a serious misdemeanor. Given that he was behind the wheel at the time, Lu could have been charged with reckless driving instead. What’s the difference? When would a driver be charged with reckless endangerment instead of reckless driving?

While both charges are serious crimes that can result in a permanent criminal record, reckless endangerment is broader and can apply in situations that do not involve being behind the wheel. Any action that creates the risk of serious harm, injury, or death can result in a reckless endangerment charge, including setting someone on fire or brandishing a weapon. Reckless driving, on the other hand, is generally issued as a traffic ticket. The charge applies only when the danger is caused by behavior behind the wheel, such as driving on the sidewalk or going the wrong way on a highway.

So why are some drivers, like Lu, charged with reckless endangerment instead of reckless driving? It may have to do with the severity of the incident. While both charges are misdemeanors, reckless endangerment carries a harsher sentence. A conviction can result in up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine. In situations where a person acts with depraved indifference to human life, reckless endangerment can be charged as a felony and will result in up to seven years in prison and a $150,000 fine.

A reckless driving conviction, however, carries a sentence of up to 30 days plus fines of up to $400 for a first offense. However, while the criminal consequences may be less severe for reckless driving, a conviction can substantially impact your driving record, resulting in at least five points on your license and increasing your auto insurance premiums tremendously.

If you or a loved one has been charged with any other traffic related offense in New York you need a skilled attorney to help minimize the serious consequences you may face. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced criminal defense and traffic attorneys who will fight vigorously to ensure your legal rights are protected. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm for a free consultation about your case today.

Does the Rain Increase Chances of a Reckless Driving Charge?

This winter is almost over and what little snow we had will soon turn to rain. Both snow and rain can be dangerous for drivers and much like snow, rain can increase the chances of a reckless driving charge.

In order to be charged with reckless driving, you must demonstrate blatant disregard for the safety of others. Theoretically, simply speeding in the rain could qualify as a blatant disregard, since the slick roads and the excess speed would present a danger to others. However, unless your speed was truly excessive (e.g. 30+ mph over the limit), it is unlikely that an officer would deem it reckless.

Reckless driving is usually reserved for extreme behaviors, or instances where multiple infractions occur together. For example, if you were speeding in the rain with while tailgating, an officer might consider that worthy of a reckless driving charge. In this scenario, the dangers of the excess speed and limited distance between the cars would be highly exacerbated by the slick road conditions, which increases your chances of a serious accident.

Reckless driving is no mere traffic violation – it is a serious crime. A conviction carries a $400 fine and five points on your license, and could mean spending up to 30 days in jail. This is in addition to the fines and points from any other charges leveled against you. Moreover, a conviction for reckless driving will significantly impact your auto insurance rates.

If you or a loved one has been charged with reckless driving, speeding, or any other traffic related offense in New York, contact an attorney right away to protect your rights and minimize the consequences. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced criminal and traffic attorneys who are experienced in fighting reckless driving and many other traffic offenses. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm for a free consultation about your case today.

Taconic State Parkway Named the Deadliest Road in NY

The Taconic State Parkway is infamous for drivers end up on the wrong side of the road. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The Taconic State Parkway has been named the deadliest road in New York State, according to the travel site OnlyInYourState. The 104-mile highway runs through four counties – Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess and Columbia – and has been the scene of more than 2,000 crashes in a three-year span.

The parkway, which nearly parallels the Hudson River, was designed to be a scenic route for cars going much slower than today’s casual speeds. Most of the highway is made up of two tight lanes that can be challenging to navigate, especially during bad weather. Despite this, it is a heavily-traveled road for local commuters and vacationers going back and forth between New York, the Berkshires, and New England.

Speeding is a major problem on the Taconic State Parkway. State troopers have written nearly 54,000 tickets to people traveling along the parkway in the last seven years, mostly in Westchester and Putnam counties. In addition, in the three years ending in July 2014, 2,080 crashes took place on the parkway, also primarily in Putnam and Westchester counties.

The highway is infamous for people ending up on the wrong side of the road. One of the most notorious such crashes occurred in 2009 when a minivan drove nearly two miles the wrong way before crashing head-on into an SUV. Eight people died in what was said to be Westchester’s worst motor vehicle accident in 75 years. More recently, a 22-year-old White Plains man was charged with driving while intoxicated and reckless driving after he went the wrong way on the Taconic in Mount Pleasant and plowed into another car, injuring the other driver.

Earlier this month a 71-year-old Pleasantville man drove off the Taconic in Yorktown and died after his car struck a tree. Just hours before, on the same day, a 25-year-old Cortlandt Manor man narrowly escaped death after his car also left the parkway and struck a tree. He had to be extricated by emergency crews. State police said he appeared to have been speeding.

A person found driving on the wrong side of a highway can be charged with reckless driving, among other things. Reckless driving is a serious crime and a conviction could mean up to 30 days in jail, plus nearly $400 in fines and five points on your license. If you or a loved one has been charged with reckless driving or any other traffic related offense in New York, you must retain a skilled attorney to help fight the serious consequences you may face. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced criminal defense and traffic attorneys who will work for you to make sure your legal rights are protected. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm for a free consultation about your case today.

Can You Justify Reckless Driving to Avoid Serious Danger?

Michael Bay would be proud; the police would not. Photo courtesy Hollywood Pictures.

We’ve all seen a million movies where the hero takes extreme risks behind the wheel to escape the enemy. Thankfully, most of us will never be chased down by corrupt DEA agents or caravans full of armed cronies. Driving the wrong way on a highway, a sudden sharp turn into oncoming traffic, a shortcut through a shopping mall, or a daring burst of speed through a red light – they make great action scenes, but in real life they’d net you a reckless driving charge.

What would happen, however, if you found yourself needing to flee from genuine danger in real life? For example, if a violent ex-boyfriend initiated a car chase or a road-raging driver attempted to run you off the road, would it then be permissible to take extreme actions in the hopes of avoiding harm?

There’s no easy answer. For an action to be considered reckless driving in New York, it needs to meet two criteria. The first is that it demonstrates a conscious disregard for the safety of other drivers, which can apply to something as simple as swerving into another lane. The second component is that it must represent a “gross deviation from the standard of conduct.” In other words, it is not a normal response to the situation. If you swerved into another lane to avoid being struck by an aggressive driver, to defeat the charge you would need to prove that the reaction was more reasonable than slowing down and letting the other driver pass

The bottom line: If you do something that would make Michael Bay proud, you’re not likely to get out of the charge no matter the situation. However, if you broke the law in an attempt to avoid legitimate harm, an attorney may be able to help prove that your actions were not reckless.

Reckless driving is a serious crime that can result in up to up to 30 days in jail, plus nearly $400 in fines, and five points on your license. It also means you will have a permanent criminal record. If you or a loved one has been charged with reckless driving or any other traffic related offense in New York, you need the help of a skilled attorney. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced criminal defense and traffic attorneys who can help protect your legal rights. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm for a free consultation about your case today.

Put the Brakes on this Possible Reckless Driving Situation

Make sure these work before you head out on the road. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

New York State law requires car owners to take full responsibility for the upkeep of their vehicles; failure to do so can result in a traffic ticket. You can receive a citation for many types of mechanical failures, including broken headlights, a missing side view mirror, and nonfunctional wipers.

Most equipment related violations are no-point tickets, which means you will generally only face a fine. Some offenses, however, are considerably more serious, such as a ticket for inadequate brakes. In fact, driving with inadequate brakes can even lead to a reckless driving charge.

A reckless driving charge applies to any situation in which a driver endangers the welfare of others. It is most often levied in situations where drivers commit multiple serious infractions or when drivers do something truly extreme, such as driving the wrong way on a highway.

There are a number of ways an inadequate brake charge can become a reckless driving charge. One such situation would be if the lack of brakes resulted in another infraction, such as disobeying a stop sign or running a red light. Another example would be if you were driving through a pedestrian-heavy area such as a parking lot. In that case, the inability to stop on time would pose a serious risk to pedestrians and other drivers, even if the car wasn’t technically speeding, which could result in a reckless driving charge.

In the above examples, as with most equipment violations, it doesn’t matter if you knew the brakes were faulty before hitting the road. The law holds you liable for ensuring your car is in safe, drivable condition and you can be charged even if you did not realize there was an issue with your brakes. However, if you knew your car had inadequate brakes and decided to drive it anyway, that in and of itself could be grounds for a reckless driving charge as the decision to knowingly drive a car in unsafe condition means you conscientiously chose to put others at risk. 

A ticket for inadequate brakes carries a $300 fine, four points on your license, and up to 30 days in jail. A second offense in 18 months increases the consequences to $525 and up to 90 days in jail. Reckless driving, however, is more than a traffic violation; it is a crime. A conviction could mean up to 30 days in jail, plus nearly $400 in fines, and 5 points on your license. The charge will also impact your insurance premiums, causing an increase of as much as 42%.

If you or a loved one has been charged with reckless driving or any other traffic related offense in New York, contact an attorney right away for help. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced criminal defense and traffic attorneys who have helped many people in similar situations. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm for a free consultation about your case today.