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RECKLESS DRIVING IN WASHINGTON STATE

Washington State Speeding Ticket Lawyers and Traffic Ticket Attorneys.

The Law Offices of Jason S. Newcombe

(206) 667-8888
(425) 455-2040
(253) 852-1661

Keep your driver's license.

Keep your insurance rates low.

Let us fight your Reckless Driving arrest or criminal charge.

Reckless Driving in Washington State is a serious criminal charge.
Many people seem to be under the misconception that Reckless Driving is really nothing more than a serious traffic ticket.  In reality, however, Reckless Driving in Washington State is a very serious driving crime that can a dramatic impact on your life and your driving privileges if you are convicted. 

Reckless Driving is a gross misdemeanor here in WA State.  It is punishable by a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.  Additionally, if you are convicted of Reckless Driving, the WA Department of Licensing will suspend your license for a period of 30 days.  During this period, you WILL NOT be eligible for a hardship permit or temporary restricted license. The license suspension typically takes effect 45-90 AFTER you are sentenced.


What about my insurance rates?

In order to reinstate your driving privileges, you will be required to obtain an SR-22 insurance policy for a period of three years.  An SR-22 insurance policy is a high risk insurance policy that is almost always considerably more expensive than your current insurance.  It is also a serious criminal driving conviction that many employers consider when making hiring decisions, especially if any aspect of the job requires driving.

Additionally, a Washington State Reckless Driving conviction is what we refer to a "major" on your driving record.
  Under Washington State's Habitual Offender Law, certain driving crimes can have a dramatic impact on driving privileges if you get three or more of them within any five-year period.  If you do end up with three or more major convictions in any five-year period your license will be revoked for seven years.

Speeding can be "prima facie" evidence of Reckless Driving in Washington State.

Many people are surprised to learn that excessive speeding in and of itself can constitute Reckless Driving here in Washington State.  But it's true so long as the police officer can make some tangible argument that by speeding your driving in some way also endangered the safety of persons or property. 

Law enforcement officers often makes a subjective decision about whether or not a person's speed should simply be cited as speeding or whether it warrants a criminal charge of Reckless Driving.  Ultimately, it is up to the prosecuting attorney to make the final decision about whether your driving warrants a criminal charge of Reckless Driving.  But prosecutors will typically rely heavily upon the officer's report in making this decision.

What if I am not a U.S. Citizen?
You should also know that a criminal conviction for Reckless Driving could have serious consequences for you if you are not a U.S. Citizen.  It may also be a basis to restrict your travel to Canada in the future. 

If you have been arrested or charged with Reckless Driving here in Washington State, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer whose practice emphasizes driving crimes.  Reckless Driving is a unique charge because it requires that the state prove that the driver's conduct was in "willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property". 

When one of our clients faces a Reckless Driving charge, our top priority is to ensure that every angle of their case is reviewed.  We typically travel out to the exact location where the alleged driving occurred and thoroughly investigate every aspect of the officer's report.  In many cases, we are able to have the Reckless Driving charge reduced to a traffic infraction.  While this is no guarantee that we will be able to do so in your case, we have had considerable success in doing so in the past.  A lot depends on the specific allegations in the police report and your prior criminal history, if any.

We will do everything possible to ensure that you do not end up with Reckless Driving conviction on your record.  And, if the prosecutor is unwilling to reduce or dismiss your Reckless Driving charge, we will try your case to a jury and let them decide.


Washington State's Reckless Driving Laws

RCW 46.61.500
Reckless driving — Penalty.


(1) Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. Violation of the provisions of this section is a gross misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of not more than one year and by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars.

(2) The license or permit to drive or any nonresident privilege of any person convicted of reckless driving shall be suspended by the department for not less than thirty days.

[1990 c 291 § 1; 1979 ex.s. c 136 § 85; 1967 c 32 § 67; 1965 ex.s. c 155 § 59.]

Notes:
Rules of court: Bail in criminal traffic offense cases -- Mandatory appearance -- CrRLJ 3.2.

Effective date -- Severability -- 1979 ex.s. c 136: See notes following RCW 46.63.010.

Arrest of person involved in reckless driving: RCW 10.31.100.

Criminal history and driving record: RCW 46.61.513.

Embracing another while driving as reckless driving: RCW 46.61.665.

Excess speed as prima facie evidence of reckless driving: RCW 46.61.465.

Racing of vehicles on public highways, reckless driving: RCW 46.61.530.

Revocation of license, reckless driving: RCW 46.20.285.

RCW 46.61.665
Embracing another while driving.


It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle upon the highways of this state when such person has in his or her embrace another person which prevents the free and unhampered operation of such vehicle. Operation of a motor vehicle in violation of this section is prima facie evidence of reckless driving.

[1979 ex.s. c 136 § 89; 1961 c 12 § 46.56.100. Prior: 1937 c 189 § 117; RRS § 6360-117; 1927 c 309 § 49; RRS § 6362-49. Formerly RCW 46.56.100.]

Notes:
Effective date -- Severability -- 1979 ex.s. c 136: See notes following RCW 46.63.010.

RCW 46.61.465
Exceeding speed limit evidence of reckless driving.


The unlawful operation of a vehicle in excess of the maximum lawful speeds provided in this chapter at the point of operation and under the circumstances described shall be prima facie evidence of the operation of a motor vehicle in a reckless manner by the operator thereof.

[1961 c 12 § 46.48.026. Prior: 1951 c 28 § 12; 1949 c 196 § 6, part; 1947 c 200 § 8, part; 1937 c 189 § 64, part; Rem. Supp. 1949 § 6360-64, part; 1927 c 309 § 3, part; 1923 c 181 § 6, part; 1921 c 96 § 27, part; 1917 c 155 § 16, part; 1915 c 142 § 24, part; RRS § 6362-3, part; 1909 c 249 § 279, part; Rem. & Bal. § 2531, part. Formerly RCW 46.48.026.]

RCW 46.61.530
Racing of vehicles on highways — Reckless driving — Exception.


No person or persons may race any motor vehicle or motor vehicles upon any public highway of this state. Any person or persons who wilfully compare or contest relative speeds by operation of one or more motor vehicles shall be guilty of racing, which shall constitute reckless driving under RCW 46.61.500, whether or not such speed is in excess of the maximum speed prescribed by law: PROVIDED HOWEVER, That any comparison or contest of the accuracy with which motor vehicles may be operated in terms of relative speeds not in excess of the posted maximum speed does not constitute racing.

[1979 ex.s. c 136 § 87; 1961 c 12 § 46.48.050. Prior: 1937 c 189 § 67; RRS § 6360-67; 1921 c 96 § 32; 1915 c 142 § 25; RRS § 6344. Formerly RCW 46.48.050.]

Notes:
Rules of court: Bail in criminal traffic offense cases -- Mandatory appearance -- CrRLJ 3.2.

Effective date -- Severability -- 1979 ex.s. c 136: See notes following RCW 46.63.010.

Arrest of person involved in racing of vehicles: RCW 10.31.100.

RCW 46.20.285
Offenses requiring revocation.


The department shall revoke the license of any driver for the period of one calendar year unless otherwise provided in this section, upon receiving a record of the driver's conviction of any of the following offenses, when the conviction has become final:

(1) For vehicular homicide the period of revocation shall be two years. The revocation period shall be tolled during any period of total confinement for the offense;

(2) Vehicular assault. The revocation period shall be tolled during any period of total confinement for the offense;

(3) Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic drug, or under the influence of any other drug to a degree which renders the driver incapable of safely driving a motor vehicle, for the period prescribed in RCW 46.61.5055;

(4) Any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used;

(5) Failure to stop and give information or render aid as required under the laws of this state in the event of a motor vehicle accident resulting in the death or personal injury of another or resulting in damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by another;

(6) Perjury or the making of a false affidavit or statement under oath to the department under Title 46 RCW or under any other law relating to the ownership or operation of motor vehicles;

(7) Reckless driving upon a showing by the department's records that the conviction is the third such conviction for the driver within a period of two years.

[2005 c 288 § 4; 2001 c 64 § 6. Prior: 1998 c 207 § 4; 1998 c 41 § 3; 1996 c 199 § 5; 1990 c 250 § 43; 1985 c 407 § 2; 1984 c 258 § 324; 1983 c 165 § 16; 1983 c 165 § 15; 1965 ex.s. c 121 § 24.]

Notes:
Effective date -- 2005 c 288: See note following RCW 46.20.245.

Effective date -- 1998 c 207: See note following RCW 46.61.5055.

Intent -- Construction -- Effective date -- 1998 c 41: See notes following RCW 46.20.265.

Severability -- 1996 c 199: See note following RCW 9.94A.505.

Severability -- 1990 c 250: See note following RCW 46.16.301.

Effective dates -- 1985 c 407: See note following RCW 46.04.480.

Court Improvement Act of 1984 -- Effective dates -- Severability -- Short title -- 1984 c 258: See notes following RCW 3.30.010.

Intent -- 1984 c 258: See note following RCW 3.46.120.

Legislative finding, intent -- Effective dates -- Severability -- 1983 c 165: See notes following RCW 46.20.308.

Revocation of license for attempting to elude pursuing police vehicle: RCW 46.61.024.

Vehicular assault, penalty: RCW 46.61.522.

Vehicular homicide, penalty: RCW 46.61.520.