Indiana Reckless Driving Attorney
Contrary to popular belief, a reckless driving charge in Indiana is more than a mere citation for excessive speed. And, while it doesn’t normally rise to the level of a felony, a conviction for reckless driving in Indiana can affect much more than your insurance premiums. If you’ve been cited or arrested for this offense, you need more than a general criminal defense lawyer. You need an Indiana reckless driving attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP to minimize your exposure to the criminal, professional, and personal consequences such a conviction can bring.
Why You Need an Indiana Reckless Driving Attorney in Particular
While not part of the criminal code, reckless driving is still a misdemeanor offense, conviction for which can have broad implications on multiple aspects of your life. From the obvious, such as the risk to your driver’s license, to less obvious areas, such as your eligibility to engage in a particular profession, a reckless driving conviction can follow you long after you pay the assessed fine and serve any period of incarceration. Engaging an experienced Indiana reckless driving attorney as early as possible after your arrest or charge is critical to protecting your rights.
If you’re facing a charge of reckless driving, you may be faced with defending yourself in several forums. In addition to facing a potential criminal trial, you may also have to defend yourself before one or more other government agencies or departments. An experienced Indiana reckless driving lawyer understands every piece of this puzzle and can anticipate the different fronts of your battle and how to best manage all of them to fully protect your interests.
What Is Reckless Driving in Indiana?
Indiana Code § 9-21-8-52 defines several types of reckless driving, with a higher level of offense assigned to more serious conduct. The lowest level of offense is a Class C misdemeanor, which includes the following types of conduct:
- Driving at an unreasonable rate of speed (too fast or too slow) that blocks the proper flow of traffic or endangers the safety or property of another
- Passing on a curve or slope where your vision ahead is less than 500 feet
- Weaving in and out of traffic except as otherwise permitted
- Preventing another vehicle from passing by either speeding up or failing to yield half the roadway
Such conduct may rise to the level of a Class B misdemeanor if it resulted in damage to the property of another; however, the offense can a felony if the reckless driving resulted in death or injury. For example, the offense is elevated to a Level 6 felony if it results in bodily injury and to a Level 5 felony if it results in the death of another. Additionally, passing a school bus when it is stopped and has its arm extended is a Class A misdemeanor.
Indiana law also makes certain types of driving in a highway work zone another type of reckless driving offense. Under Indiana Code § 9-21-8-56, a driver who does the following in the immediate vicinity of a highway work zone commits reckless driving:
- Recklessly operates a motor vehicle when workers are present commits a Class A misdemeanor
- Knowingly or intentionally operates a motor vehicle with the intent to injure a worker or damage a traffic control device commits a Class A misdemeanor
- Recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally engages in a speed contest or aggressive driving when workers are present commits a Class A misdemeanor
- Recklessly fails to obey a flagger or traffic device when workers are present commits a Class A misdemeanor
A highway work zone reckless driving conviction is elevated to a Level 6 felony if the driver committed the offense while driving under the influence, the offense resulted in injury to a worker at the site, or the driver has a reckless driving conviction within the prior five years. The offense is also elevated to a Level 6 felony if the driver’s conduct resulted in the death of a worker at the site.
In late 2021, Indiana law enforcement agencies received $6.5 million in traffic safety grants to ramp up reckless driving arrests in the Hoosier state. Drivers in Indiana are more susceptible than ever to being pulled over for reckless driving and facing charges that impact much more than their wallets.
An Indiana Reckless Driving Attorney Can Help Minimize Exposure to Criminal Penalties
If you’ve been charged with any level of reckless driving, your first encounter with the judicial system is likely to be in court in the county in which you received your reckless driving citation. A criminal charge generally proceeds in the following way:
- The prosecutor files an information charging you with reckless driving or a higher-level offense (such as driving under the influence) which may later be reduced to a reckless driving charge
- The court holds an initial hearing, at which the court informs you of the charge(s) on the record and you may enter a plea admitting or denying the charges
- The period following the initial hearing is used for discovery (requesting evidence gathered by the prosecutor) and investigation by your attorney to gather evidence necessary for your defense
- Plea negotiations are common in the time leading up to the trial, during which the prosecutor may offer you a lower-level offense or a reduced sentencing recommendation in return for your guilty plea (a plea bargain)
- The trial, heard by a judge or jury, is where the prosecutor presents all of the evidence gathered during the discovery phase and your attorney has an opportunity to cross-examine prosecution witnesses and present evidence in your defense
- A sentencing hearing is held if you are convicted and, with some exceptions, marks the starting date for serving a period of incarceration if so ordered
- You may appeal your conviction, your sentence, or both if your defense attorney finds any legal errors committed in your case.
The consequences for a conviction for reckless driving in Indiana include the following:
- Level 5 felony: Incarceration for a period of two to eight years and a fine of up to $10,000
- Level 6 felony: Incarceration for a period of six months to two years and a fine of up to $10,000
- Class A misdemeanor: Incarceration for a period up to one year and a fine of up to $5,000
- Class B misdemeanor: Incarceration for a period up to 180 days and a fine of up to $1,000
- Class C misdemeanor: Incarceration for a period up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500
A Conviction for Reckless Driving in Indiana Puts Your Driver’s License at Risk
Even if this is your first conviction for a traffic-related offense, a conviction for reckless driving in Indiana could result in suspension of your operator’s license and would impact your commercial driver license (CDL).
The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) assesses points for traffic infractions and offenses. The number of BMV points assessed increases with the severity of the infraction or offense and, in the case of reckless driving, can depend on the underlying facts. A table found in 140 Indiana Administrative Code 1-4.5-10 sets out the point values for various traffic offenses. Following are the point values assessed for certain types of reckless driving:
- Reckless driving – 6 points
- Reckless driving with property damage – 8 points
- Reckless driving with bodily injury – 10 points
- Reckless driving in a highway work zone – 8 points
- Reckless driving while operating a tractor-trailer – 8 points
If you accrue 20 points, your license will be administratively suspended for one month, with the length of the suspension increasing for points greater than 20. In addition, conviction of Class B misdemeanor reckless driving can also result in the suspension of your driver’s license for up to one year.
An Indiana reckless driving conviction—or a conviction from another state—can rack up driver’s license points quickly. If you’ve been charged with reckless driving, you need guidance from an experienced Indiana reckless driving attorney early in the process to fight against having points added to your record in the first place.
An Indiana Reckless Driving Conviction May Affect Your Professional License
In some cases, a conviction for reckless driving in Indiana may impair your eligibility to hold a professional license in the state. Under Indiana Code § 25-1-1.1-6, every professional licensing entity under the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency umbrella must specify which criminal offense convictions can affect an applicant’s eligibility to obtain, renew, or hold a professional license in the state. The statute lists these additional requirements:
- The listed offenses must directly relate to the duties of the occupation covered by the license
- The term of ineligibility must end five years after conviction in many cases
- The agency must provide in writing clear and convincing reasons to support the denial of the license application
Whether a reckless driving conviction would be directly related to the duties performed in a particular licensed profession would be determined on a case-by-case basis. To protect your licensed livelihood, you need an established Indiana reckless driving attorney who can cut through the red tape and present the facts to show they are most favorable to your position.
When Do You Need an Indiana Reckless Driving Attorney?
Anyone facing a reckless driving charge should consult a qualified defense attorney at the earliest possible opportunity. Engaging an experienced Indiana reckless driving lawyer early in the process allows your lawyer the time needed to fully investigate your case and develop winning arguments for your defense.
The criminal defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP understand the idiosyncrasies of reckless driving charges and know how to capably handle the repercussions of such a charge in other areas that require legal counsel to manage efficiently and effectively. To maximize your chances of escaping a reckless driving conviction and the related consequences, schedule a free consultation with an Indiana reckless driving attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP today by calling (317) 857-0160 or by completing this online contact form. Time is of the essence, so call now!