You may think reckless driving is just another traffic violation like speeding or running a stop sign, but you’d be wrong. In New York, as in several other states, reckless driving is a criminal charge that can carry a jail sentence if convicted.
Virginia is one of those states that list reckless driving as a jailable offense, as Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth recently found out. Convicted on December 5, 2014, Werth was sentenced to 10 days in jail for driving his Porche at a speed of over 100 mph in a 55 mph zone on the Capital Beltway in Fairfax, VA. Werth’s driver’s license will also be suspended for 6 months due to his conviction.
Given the excessive rate of speed, Fairfax County General District Court Judge Penny A. Azcarte said that a jail sentence was appropriate. In imposing the sentence, Judge Azcarte noted that, “I-495 is not a racetrack,” and that the sentence would have been the same regardless of what that person did for a living.
During his hearing, Werth admitted that he may have been driving 90 mph, but denied that his speed ever broke the 100 mph mark. Werth’s attorney, Rod Leffler, unsuccessfully sought to have the case against his client dismissed by challenging the reliability of the state trooper’s pacing of Werth. Leffler also requested that the court take into account that at the time his client was excessively speeding, traffic was light.
Werth, 35, who is currently under a 7-year $126 million contract with the Nationals, has the option of appealing his conviction to the Fairfax County Circuit Court, but there is no word yet on whether he will take up an appeal. Practically speaking, although sentenced to 10 days in jail, he will most likely only serve five of the ten days due to county jail rules and procedures.
Under New York law, reckless driving is a serious offense and is considered a criminal misdemeanor in most cases. In 2011, the New York State senate passed a bill that created the offense of aggravated reckless driving that carries even harsher penalties for driving recklessly while operating a vehicle under the influence or for driving down a roadway in the wrong direction. If you are charged with aggravated reckless driving in NY, it is considered a Class E felony.
If you are charged with reckless driving in NY, in addition to five points assessed against your NY State driver’s license, a conviction will result in a non-expungable criminal record. This means that the conviction cannot be erased from your record, will appear on criminal background checks, and can affect your ability to find a job, obtain student loans, and travel. Additionally, as in Virginia, a reckless driving conviction can result in a jail sentence on a first offense, which in NY can be for up to 30 days. This jail sentence is increased to up to 90 days on a second offense, and up to 180 days on a third offense.
In NY, there are also heavy fines that are associated with a reckless driving conviction. On a first offense, you can be fined up to $300. If charged with a second offense within 18 months of a first offense, a reckless driving conviction can result in a fine of $525. A third offense for reckless driving is punishable with a fine of up to $1,125. On top of the hefty fines, a reckless driving conviction on your driver’s record can increase your auto insurance rates 40% or more!
If you have been charged with reckless driving in NY and would like to avoid these very serious and expensive consequences, contact The Rosenblum Law Firm today at 888-883-5529 for a free consultation with an experienced traffic attorney.