Some traffic citations are much more serious than a standard speeding ticket or other minor offense. In fact, certain actions when operating a motor vehicle have been deemed by Indiana law to merit criminal charges. In Indiana, these include reckless driving, aggressive driving, and operating while intoxicated (OWI), more commonly called drunk driving or DUI. These charges are handled in criminal court, involve criminal penalties, and can leave you with a permanent black mark on your criminal record. If you have received a reckless driving ticket in Indiana, it is imperative that you contact an Indiana reckless driving lawyer who will act fast to gather information and evidence and begin mounting a strong defense in your favor.
What You Need to Know About Indiana Reckless Driving Charges
Most traffic offenses are not criminal matters. They constitute violations that result in a fine that you must pay to close out your ticket. General traffic offenses can also result in points added to your driving record by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). Driver record points can range from two to six depending on the seriousness of the violation. However, an Indiana reckless driving charge can carry much more serious penalties and consequences than the typical traffic violation.
If you are facing criminal traffic charges as a result of a reckless driving ticket in Indiana, or for another serious traffic offense, you should seek the help of a skilled defender who has the experience you need to fight for your rights in court. At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, you can work with Indianapolis traffic attorneys who are former prosecutors and have honed their skills for years in the criminal justice system. Our defenders thoroughly understand how the other side thinks and deals with your case in seeking a conviction. With our team on your side, you can expect diligence, integrity, and the utmost professionalism when fighting for your rights and best interests.
Reckless Driving Examples: What is Reckless Driving in Indiana?
The word “reckless” is defined by Merriam Webster as “marked by lack of proper caution” or “careless of consequences.” But how do you determine if a person was actually behaving without caution or carelessly—recklessly—under the law? In Indiana, lawmakers have specified the actions that qualify as reckless when operating a motor vehicle. Indiana Code § 9-21-8-52 defines the following as Indiana reckless driving:
- Driving too fast or too slow, thereby placing the safety of people or property in danger or blocking the free flow of traffic
- Passing a vehicle from behind while driving down a slope or around a curve with less than 500 feet of visibility
- Driving/swerving in and out of traffic lanes when crossing lanes is prohibited
- Speeding up or refusing to give half of the road over to another motorist who is trying to pass
- Passing a school bus that has stopped with its arm signal device extended
Under this definition, reckless driving examples could include incidents like crossing over a double line while driving as a result of a distraction or other scenarios in which the driver did not intend to be careless or reckless. This means that one moment of distracted driving could leave you with a criminal record that could impact your life for years to come.
Because a reckless driving ticket in Indiana can result in criminal charges, fines, and even jail time, it is vital that you contact an experienced Indiana reckless driving lawyer as soon as possible after you receive a citation. The Indianapolis traffic attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP will proactively work to identify the best defense strategy for your case and minimize or eliminate the charges against you as well as the penalties associated with those charges.
How is Indiana Reckless Driving Charged?
Most forms of reckless driving in Indiana are classified under the law as Class C misdemeanors. These offenses can result in a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and fines of as high as $1,000. When a reckless driving incident causes property damage, the charge can be elevated to a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 180 days of incarceration and the same maximum fine as a Class C charge—$1,000. When reckless driving results in bodily injury, the criminal charge can be elevated to a Class A misdemeanor—the highest level of misdemeanor in Indiana. Class A misdemeanor offenders who are convicted can be sentenced to as much as one year in jail and be ordered to pay a fine of up to $5,000.
Additionally, under Indiana Administrative Code, the Indiana BMV can assess between six and ten points on your driver’s license for reckless driving tickets in Indiana. Accumulation of these points can result in the suspension of your driver’s license. Reckless driving offenses that result in property damage or bodily injury can also result in the suspension of your Indiana driving privileges for up to a year regardless of the number of points assessed on your license.
Is Reckless Driving a Felony in Indiana?
In most cases, reckless driving is not a felony in Indiana. However, there are cases in which allegations of reckless driving can result in a felony criminal charge in the Hoosier state. Understanding the distinctions noted under the law is crucial to knowing what charges and potential penalties you might face as a result of Indiana’s reckless driving allegations.
Passing a school bus with its signal extended is classified and charged differently than other reckless driving charges in Indiana. This offense, when it occurs without injury, is a Class A misdemeanor under Indiana law, and punishment can include up to one year in jail and $5,000 in fines. Individuals with a previous offense for passing a school bus as described in Indiana Code 9-21-12-1 can have their driver’s license suspended for up to one year for recklessly passing a school bus. First-time offenders are subject to driver’s license suspension of up to 90 days.
If bodily injury occurs as a result of reckless passing of a school bus in Indiana, the driver can be charged with a Level 6 felony offense. In Indiana, Level 6 felonies carry a potential incarceration of six months to two and a half years and fines of as much as $10,000.
If a driver passing a school bus with its arm signal extended causes the death of another individual, he or she can be charged with a Level 5 felony under Indiana law. This charge can result in a sentence of between one and six years and fines of up to $10,000.
Though justice is supposed to be blind, cases of reckless driving involving a school bus are often viewed harshly by courts, prosecutors, and the general public. If you are charged with this offense in Indiana, it is critical that you seek counsel from an Indiana reckless driving lawyer who knows the local courts, understands how prosecutors aggressively pursue these cases, and can identify the best defense strategies for your specific situation.
Is Reckless Driving a Felony, Part Two: Work Zones
Highway work zones are an additional area in which a reckless driving ticket in Indiana can result in a felony charge. Indiana Code 9-21-8-56 identifies reckless driving in an Indiana highway work zone as a Class A misdemeanor. The statute further states that if a driver with a previous, unrelated offense in a work zone or who is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance operates a vehicle recklessly in a work zone, he or she commits a Level 6 felony. Reckless driving in a highway work zone that results in bodily injury to a worker at the site is classified as a Level 6 felony under Indiana law as well. As noted previously, this charge can result in incarceration for as long as two and a half years and possible fines of up to $10,000.
When a worker is killed as the result of reckless driving in a work zone, the responsible driver can be charged with a Level 5 felony, with potential sentencing of between one and six years of incarceration and up to $10,000 in fines. These are serious charges that will have a long-term impact on an individual’s life. If you were involved in a reckless driving incident in an Indiana highway work zone, reach out to the Indianapolis traffic attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP as quickly as possible to discuss your next best steps.
Turn to Keffer Hirschauer for a Diligent Indiana Reckless Driving Lawyer
The laws regarding reckless driving and other traffic offenses in Indiana are both specific and complex. If you have received a reckless driving ticket in Indiana, the penalties and impacts on your life could be much more severe than you realize. Don’t risk your driver’s license, your freedom, or your future by underestimating the gravity of the situation and failing to secure the services of a reckless driving lawyer who will fight for your rights.
Ensure your legal rights and increased chances for the best possible case outcome are vigorously pursued with help from the Indianapolis traffic attorneys and dedicated support staff at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. When you face Indiana reckless driving charges, let us use our thorough understanding of the law and court procedures as well as our familiarity with the local courts in and around Indianapolis to fight for you, your reputation, and a clean record going forward.
Call us at (317) 857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule your complimentary consultation to learn more about your case and how we can defend you today.