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What Are the Consequences of Reckless Driving in Texas?

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

What Are the Consequences of Reckless Driving in Texas?

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Have you ever felt extremely angry over another driver’s error? Road rage and road aggression go hand in hand, but it’s natural to feel upset when someone else’s mistake almost causes you to get into a crash.

If your anger turns into reckless driving, then you could wind up being the cause of an accident. Even worse, you could cause other people to get hurt. On top of those consequences, you could even face a criminal charge.

Reckless driving is taken seriously in the state of Texas. Nationally, a whopping 66% of traffic fatalities are directly caused by aggressive driving. If you get hit with a reckless driving charge, then it’s important to understand the potential penalties you’ll face and your legal options.

What is Reckless Driving?

We’ve all taken our eyes off the road temporarily to change the radio station, take a bite of a snack, or grab a beverage. This type of behavior isn’t ideal, but it’s technically not considered reckless per Texas law.

According to Texas state law, reckless driving is defined as getting behind the wheel with a wanton disregard for the safety of other motorists or their property. As a motorist, you have a duty to care for others. This duty is a legal obligation, and a breach violates both civil and criminal law.

When you behave in a way that suggests you have an intent to harm the other person, then that constitutes reckless driving.

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Types of Reckless Driving

There are several types of actions that could constitute reckless driving under Texas law. Here are a few types of reckless driving actions:

  • Driving while under the influence
  • Ignoring traffic laws like stopping at stop signs or red lights
  • Attempting to street race
  • Evading law enforcement
  • Speeding past a school bus that’s stopped
  • Texting while driving
  • Excessive speeding
  • Failing to yield

The key here is that each action displays either an intent to harm or a complete disregard for other people’s safety and property. If you committed any of the actions above, then authorities could use it as evidence to convict you of reckless driving.

Can I Go to Jail for Reckless Driving in Texas?

The short answer is — yes. Despite that, whether or not you end up behind bars depends a lot on how reckless you were acting. Often, it’s the officer’s discretion whether to bring you to jail or not.

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense. Depending on the severity of your actions, you could face either a fine, jail time, or both. If you do get sentenced to jail time, then you could serve up to 30 days. If you get fined, then you could get charged up to $200.

Other Consequences of Reckless Driving Charges 

As mentioned above, driving recklessly can lead to civil consequences. If you hurt another driver or caused property damage, then that person has a legal right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against you.

If you’ve already been convicted of reckless driving, then a judge is more likely to rule in favor of the other party. That means you’ll likely be on the financial hook for the other driver’s losses. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your crash, that figure could be extensive. You could be liable for the other person’s:

  • Property damage
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

As you can imagine, these losses can add up fast. If you’re held liable, then you could be paying off the other party for several years.

What To Do If You’re Charged with Reckless Driving

Have you or a loved one recently been charged with reckless driving? If so, then you may have gotten taken to jail right away. Otherwise, you were likely issued a citation with a court date. So, what should you do next?

It’s best to hire an attorney as soon as possible. Depending on your situation, you could get hit with additional violations in court. For example, you could also get charged with a DUI, street racing, or speeding. Instead of accepting the charges and penalties, you should start constructing a solid defense strategy as soon as possible.

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Defenses Against Reckless Driving Charges 

When you’re charged with reckless driving, it’s often because the police have evidence against you. The officers likely either witnessed you committing a traffic violation, or they came out to the site of your accident. With that in mind, you’ll need to construct a pretty solid defense strategy to prove your innocence. Here are some of the most common defenses against reckless driving:

  • Mistake of fact — you weren’t driving
  • Necessity — you were driving recklessly due to an emergency situation
  • You were negligent BUT had no intent to harm anyone or destroy property
  • Mistake of fact — you weren’t reckless (use video proof or other evidence)
  • Ignorance — you didn’t know the law therefore you couldn’t have willfully broken it

Remember, intent is key in reckless driving cases. The defense strategy that’s best in your situation heavily depends on the circumstances surrounding your case. That’s why it’s a good idea to enlist the help of an attorney before constructing a defense strategy for court. 

Understanding the Consequences of Reckless Driving in Texas

We’ve all gotten angry or distracted behind the wheel. Despite that, it’s paramount to always remember how dangerous a careless or reckless action can be when you’re in control of a vehicle. Keep in mind that you have a duty to provide for other motorists (and pedestrians) care every time you get behind the wheel.

If you breach that duty of care, then you’re guilty of not only negligent behavior but a criminal action, too. Depending on the severity of your behavior, you could end up behind bars. If you get charged with reckless driving in Texas, then it’s advised that you hire a criminal defense lawyer right away. If not, then you could end up with a conviction on your record.

Are you looking for an attorney you can trust with your future? We’re here to help. Reach out to our office on our online contact form now to discuss your situation. 

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