Reckless driving in Oklahoma puts everyone at risk: the driver, passengers, other drivers, and even pedestrians. But not every violation of Oklahoma’s motor vehicle laws constitutes reckless driving.
Reckless Driving in Stillwater Defined
Under Oklahoma law, reckless driving is defined as driving carelessly or wantonly without regard for the safety of the people or property around you. Okla. Stat. tit. 47 § 11-901
Either driving carelessly or wantonly is sufficient for a reckless driving charge, if others or their property is put at risk.
This crime has elements that must be proven by the prosecution in order to secure a conviction. If the prosecution fails to prove any of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, there can be no conviction. Defenses to a crime are anything that tends to disprove a needed element.
These elements are:
- you must be driving
- a motor vehicle
- in a careless or wanton manner and
- in disregard for the safety or persons or property, or in violation of speed limits, or have exceeded a speed that a reasonable and prudent person would have considered to be reasonable given the road and traffic conditions, or have driven at an excessive speed that a reasonable and prudent person would have considered to be reasonable and proper in order to stop in the clear distance ahead.
Drivers are required to turn their full attention to driving when they are behind the wheel. Thus, anything that distracts a driver can create a dangerous condition.
What Does Reckless Driving Look Like?
Excessive speed alone, depending on the circumstances, can secure a conviction if the other elements are met, such as driving at a speed sufficient to preclude the driver from rear-ending the car in front of him or her. Any driving that shows disregard for the safety of others or property can be sufficient.
Here, conduct and behavior viewed through the eyes of a reasonable person can be used legally to show carelessness or a wanton manner. If a reasonable person views a defendant’s actions as culpably negligent, that may be enough.
So speeding per se may be against the law, but not negligent. It is the idea of speeding to such an extent that implies culpable negligence. Thus, driving 5 miles over the posted speed limit may not be reckless, but driving 40 miles over the speed limit in a school zone is most likely reckless driving.
Here are other driving behaviors that might be charged as reckless driving depending on the severity of the behavior and upon traffic conditions: tailgating, running a stop sign or a red light, weaving in and out of lanes, or cutting in front of another car and applying your brakes if done in a manner that is wanton or careless.
The crime is a misdemeanor. A first conviction of reckless driving is punishable by 5 to 90 days of jail time, a fine between $100 and $500, or both. On a second conviction, you could serve from 10 days to 6 months in jail, pay a fine of up to $1000, or both.
If you have a clean driving record, were responding to a genuine emergency, or had other mitigating factors, bring these to the attention of your lawyer. An experienced Stillwater criminal defense attorney can make a big difference in protecting your freedom.
Free Consultation with a Stillwater OK Attorney
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