What Is Reckless Driving in Illinois?
According to Illinois law, reckless driving is not just a traffic offense. It is a serious crime that can include prison time. Therefore, it is important to know just what reckless driving is and how to defend against it if you are charged with it.
Unlike many traffic offenses such as speeding, which are defined by specific standards such as “a certain number of miles per hour over the limit,” the definition of reckless driving is more general. In the Illinois Vehicle Code, reckless driving is defined as driving “with a willful or wanton disregard” for others, or “knowingly” driving a vehicle up an incline to jump it. Without spelling out the specific actions that automatically establish reckless driving (save for taking your vehicle airborne), the law empowers the arresting officer and the judge to decide whether your specific behavior amounts to reckless driving.
For example, you could be charged with this offense if you are swerving when you drive, if you speed excessively, if you are texting and driving, or even if you just change lanes without signaling. The law’s keywords are whether you are driving “with a willful or wanton disregard,” or you “knowingly” take your vehicle airborne. In other words, if you knew that what you were doing was risky, but you intentionally did it anyway.
The Many Possible Penalties for a Reckless Driving Conviction
This “wanton disregard” for others’ lives and property makes the potential consequences for reckless driving very serious. As a Class A Misdemeanor, a conviction can bring up to a year in jail, a $2,500 fine, or both. There is also a one-point penalty on your driving record (though if you are under 21, that point can immediately suspend your license). But it can also get worse: If your driving causes someone serious bodily injury, then the crime becomes aggravated reckless driving—at least a Class 4 felony, with punishment of up to a $25,000 fine, a maximum of 30 months probation, and up to five years in state prison.
On top of all this, your driving privileges may be suspended or revoked, making it difficult to get to your job. Your insurance company could raise your premiums by hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year. And that misdemeanor or felony conviction will stay on your record permanently, impacting many areas of your life.
Contact an Experienced Chicago Reckless Driving Attorney
With so much at stake, this is not the time to just wing it in court. Especially in the case of reckless driving, which hinges on the arresting officer’s subjective judgment call at the time, this is when a knowledgeable Cook County reckless driving lawyer can find many ways to defend you successfully in court. Many times, instead of jail time and permanent damage to your record, you may receive court supervision, probation, or dismissed charges altogether—even before trial. To discuss an aggressive defense strategy that will bring the best outcome to your case, call Moretti Law, P.C., at 312-861-1084, and set up a complimentary consultation at one of our three convenient Cook and DuPage County offices in Chicago, Schaumburg, or Oak Brook.