Reckless Driving in Arizona Defenses to ARS 28-693

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Reckless driving in Arizona is a serious offense that can result in harsh consequences for those found guilty of violating ARS 28-693. Classified as a misdemeanor offense, reckless driving can lead to hefty fines, points on your driving record, and even a potential jail sentence. However, there are legal defenses available to individuals facing charges.

Handling the criminal justice system can be daunting, so seeking the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney like Arja Shah is crucial. With expertise in handling reckless driving cases, Arja Shah can help individuals explore their defense options and work towards achieving the best possible outcome.

If you or someone you know is facing charges of reckless driving in Arizona, do not hesitate to reach out for legal assistance to protect your rights and future.

This article will cover the following topics:

car making improper lane changes and demonstrating reckless driving

What is Arizona Reckless Driving Law ARS 28-693

Arizona’s Reckless Driving Law, codified under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-693, defines reckless driving as the operation of a vehicle with a reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property.

According to this statute, reckless driving is not merely about a single driving error or minor misjudgment; instead, it pertains to a pattern or instance of driving behavior that demonstrates a clear lack of concern for the established rules of the road and the well-being of others.

This can include, but is not limited to, speeding excessively, aggressive weaving through traffic, ignoring traffic signs and signals, or engaging in dangerous maneuvers without regard for the potential consequences. 

Examples of Reckless Driving in Arizona

Reckless driving in Arizona encompasses a variety of behaviors that show a disregard for the safety of others or property. These actions go beyond minor traffic violations, depicting a driver acting with willful or wanton disregard for safety standards.

Here are some examples to help clarify what may constitute reckless driving under Arizona law:

  1. Excessive Speeding: Driving significantly over the speed limit, especially in areas with high pedestrian traffic or in school zones, can be considered reckless. For example, a driver speeding at 30 mph over the limit in a residential area demonstrates a clear disregard for the safety of residents and children.
  2. Aggressive Maneuvering: This can include actions like swerving in and out of lanes, cutting off other vehicles aggressively, or making unsafe lane changes without signaling. An instance of this could be a driver weaving through highway traffic at high speeds, endangering other motorists and disrupting the flow of traffic.
  3. Ignoring Traffic Controls: Running red lights or stop signs is a common example of reckless driving. This scenario might involve a driver who consistently ignores traffic signals, thereby risking collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians who are following their respective signals.
  4. Driving Under the Influence: While DUI charges are handled under separate statutes, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can also lead to reckless driving charges if the behavior indicates a disregard for public safety. An example would be a driver who, under the influence, engages in erratic driving conduct such as sudden starts and stops or drifting between lanes.
  5. Racing on Public Roads: Engaging in street racing or similar competitive driving on public roads is inherently reckless, as it puts not only the participants but also bystanders and other drivers at risk. An example could be two drivers racing at high speeds on a busy urban street, ignoring traffic rules and signals.
  6. Distracted Driving: Operating a vehicle while visibly distracted (e.g., texting, using a phone without a hands-free device, or other distractions) can escalate to a charge of reckless driving if it results in dangerous maneuvers or inability to control the vehicle.

Is Reckless Driving the Same as Aggressive Driving

In Arizona, reckless driving and aggressive driving are separate offenses with unique definitions and legal consequences. Reckless driving, as per Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-693, is characterized by a general disregard for the safety of people or property. It’s a broad charge that can encompass various hazardous behaviors, such as excessive speeding or ignoring traffic controls, reflecting a driver’s overall negligence towards road safety.

Aggressive driving, however, is defined more by a combination of dangerous driving actions, like criminal speeding combined with improper lane changes or failing to observe traffic signals.

It specifically involves a pattern of behavior that endangers other people or property.

The main difference lies in the nature of the behavior: reckless driving is about the disregard for safety, typically seen through one or a few dangerous acts, while aggressive driving involves a series of actions that collectively demonstrate unsafe driving.

Penalties for Reckless Driving

According to Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-693, individuals convicted of reckless driving face a range of potential consequences, reflecting the state’s commitment to road safety and the nature of the offense.

First Offense: Individuals may face a Class 2 misdemeanor for a first-time reckless driving conviction. This can include penalties such as up to four months in jail, a fine of up to $750, and additional surcharges. Additionally, there may be probation requirements and a mandatory license suspension for up to 90 days.

Subsequent Offenses: If an individual has a prior reckless driving conviction within a 24-month period, the charges can escalate to a Class 1 misdemeanor. This heightened charge can result in even steeper penalties, including up to six months in jail, higher fines, and extended license suspension. 

Additional Consequences: Beyond the immediate legal penalties, a conviction can have long-term effects. These can include increased car insurance rates, points added to the driver’s license, and potential impacts on employment, especially for jobs requiring a clean driving record. In certain situations, mandatory traffic school or defensive driving courses may also be ordered.

Aggravating Factors: Certain factors can aggravate the penalties for reckless driving. If the offense results in property damage, injury, or death, the consequences can become more severe. In cases involving bodily harm or extensive property damage, additional charges such as criminal damage or vehicular manslaughter could be added, leading to more significant legal repercussions.

Defenses If You’re Charged with Reckless Driving 

Being charged with reckless driving in Arizona is a serious matter, but there are several defenses that can be employed depending on the specifics of the case. It’s important to understand that a charge is not a conviction, and the right defense strategy can significantly impact the outcome. Here are some common defenses against a charge of reckless driving:

Lack of Reckless Behavior

One of the most straightforward strategies is proving that the driving conduct in question does not meet the legal definition of “reckless.” This might involve showing that the actions were in line with normal driving behavior, or that the perceived recklessness was actually a necessary response to an unexpected road hazard or another driver’s actions.

Insufficient Evidence

The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was operating the vehicle recklessly. If there is insufficient evidence to support this claim, or if the evidence is ambiguous or can be interpreted in multiple ways.

Mistaken Identity

In some cases, especially where the evidence is based on eyewitness accounts, a defendant might argue that they were not the driver or that the witness made a mistake. This defense requires substantiating evidence, such as alibis or conflicting descriptions.

Necessity or Duress

Under certain circumstances, a driver might argue that their reckless driving was a result of necessity or duress—meaning they were compelled to drive in that manner due to an emergency situation. For example, if someone was driving recklessly to get a seriously injured person to the hospital, this might be considered a valid defense.

Faulty Equipment or Mechanical Failure

Another possible defense is that the reckless driving was not a result of the driver’s actions but was instead due to a vehicle malfunction or mechanical failure, such as brake failure or a blown tire.

Improper Law Enforcement Procedures

If there were issues with how the law enforcement officer conducted the stop or gathered evidence, this might be a viable defense. For example, if the officer did not have a legitimate reason to initiate a traffic stop or if the speed measurement tools were improperly calibrated, these factors can be challenged.

Each defense strategy depends on the unique facts and circumstances surrounding the case. It’s important for those charged with reckless driving to consult with a defense attorney who can evaluate the evidence, apply the relevant law, and develop an effective defense strategy tailored to their specific situation. 

cop conducting breathalyzer test

Can You Face DUI and Reckless Driving Charges Together?

In Arizona, it is indeed possible to be charged simultaneously with DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and reckless driving in the same incident. A DUI charge arises when an individual operates a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Reckless driving is defined by driving with a disregard for the safety of others or property.

These charges can coexist because they address different violations: DUI focuses on the impairment of the driver, while reckless driving pertains to the manner in which the vehicle is operated. For instance, driving significantly over the speed limit while intoxicated could lead to both charges being filed against the driver.

Facing both charges can intensify the legal consequences, including longer jail time, higher fines, and more severe license penalties. 

Schedule a Free Consultation with a DUI Attorney

Arja Shah | Shah Law Firm If you’re facing DUI or reckless driving charges in Arizona, Arja Shah provides a free initial consultation to help you understand your legal situation and options. This consultation offers expert legal advice, case evaluation, and discussion of potential defense strategies from a seasoned criminal DUI and defense attorney. The firm specializes in Arizona’s DUI and reckless driving laws, ensuring tailored advice and defense planning.

For dedicated and aggressive defense, contact Arja Shah Law at (602) 560-7408

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