Reckless driving is defined in Sec. 545.401 of Texas law as driving a “vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Unlike traffic citations, reckless driving is a misdemeanor criminal offense that can result in jail time for offenders and a fine of up to $200. When reckless driving results in injuries to other innocent drivers on the road, offenders could additionally be held responsible for paying for victims’ medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages.
But what exactly differentiates reckless driving from other traffic citations that aren’t considered criminal offenses? The big difference when it comes to a reckless driving citation is that the driver committing the offense is considered to be acting willfully or with clear disregard for people or property. Generally, the state must prove that the person driving had a knowledge that his or her actions were dangerous or deadly to those around him or her. This is different than negligence, where a person’s honest mistake might have resulted in a crash. A person can be negligent and at fault for an accident, but may not have been acting in disregard for the safety of other people. For example, sometimes drivers don’t see cars in their blind spots, or they may not be able to stop in time to prevent a crash. However, this is very different than a driver who chooses to drag race, or a driver who gets behind the wheel drunk, or a driver who texts and drives. The Robson Law Firm are personal injury lawyers in Austin, Texas who fight for the rights of crash victims. If you or a loved one were hurt in a Texas reckless driving accident, you and your family might have the right to seek damages for your losses. Contact our firm today to learn more about your rights and options under the law.
Some Examples of Reckless Driving
Ultimately, it is the officer’s discretion to determine whether a driver was acting recklessly or merely negligently. Texas’s law doesn’t get specific about how fast a driver must exceed the speed limit or what actions specifically constitute reckless driving. However, there are some actions where it might be more likely for an officer to issue a reckless driving citation. What are they? They can include:
- Excessive Violation of the Speed Limit. It’s one thing to drive 5 or even 10 miles over the speed limit, and another thing entirely to exceed the speed limit by many miles per hour. It is up to the officer issuing the citation to decide if the speeding showed a willful disregard for the safety of other people. However, a driver who has repeatedly violated the law, or who is driving very fast over the posted speed limit who then injures others on the road may be more likely to be charged with reckless driving. Speeding in a school zone may be more likely to result in a reckless driving citation because children might be endangered.
- Texting and driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 2012 and 2017, approximately 20,000 people have died due to distracted driving. We know it can kill and injure, and when drivers hurt others because of their distracted driving, they can face criminal charges.
- Drag Racing. Using the roads like a personal playground endangers everyone on the highway. Drivers caught drag racing can face reckless driving charges. And when these drives injure others, they can be found responsible for paying for victims’ medical costs and other losses.
- Running Stop Signs and Red Lights. If a driver is found to be repeatedly running red lights and stop signs, he or she can be found guilty of reckless driving. This can also lead to accidents which can injure others on the road.
- Drunk Driving. Intoxicated driving kills thousands of people every year. Not only can a driver face charges of drunk driving for this violation, but he or she could face charges of reckless driving. Regardless of the type of charge, if individuals are hurt in this kind of accident, victims and families may be able to seek damages for their losses.
If you or a loved one were hurt in a car accident due to another person’s choice to text and drive, speed excessively, drag race, or run stop signs or red lights, you may have the right to seek damages for your losses. These kinds of road violations are so serious that in some cases they can be considered criminal in nature. Regardless of whether the police decide to pursue criminal charges, if you or a family member have been hurt due to the negligent or criminal actions of another driver, you may have the right to seek damages for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, you may only have a limited amount of time to make a claim under the law. Contact the Robson Law Firm, personal injury attorneys in Austin, Texas today to learn more about your rights and to learn more about how we may be able to help you and your family.