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.

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