Reckless driving is a criminal offense that is legally punished in Nevada. When a person intentionally drives carelessly disregarding people’s safety and that of property, this is what is defined as reckless driving. When an act is performed willingly, and with disregard, it means the perpetrator purposely did it and knew of its consequences but went ahead and did it anyway. Typically, reckless driving charges are a misdemeanor but carry harsh penalties as well. The statute that governs reckless driving is found under NRS 484B.653 in the state of Nevada. If you are facing reckless driving allegations, speaking with an attorney is to your advantage. At The Law Offices of Martin Hart in Las Vegas, we have experience defending our clients on driving crimes and will offer you excellent defense for the offense.
Understanding Reckless Driving
As earlier stated, the law on reckless driving in Nevada is found under NRS 484B.653. The law states that it is a misdemeanor offense for a person to operate a vehicle:
- Whether in a parking facility or a highway and
- Have no regard for the lives of human beings or their safety and that of property.
According to the law, any streets or areas open to all citizens for traveling using a vehicle are highways. Parking space or facility is an area also open to the public to park their cars at. These facilities can be privately or publicly owned, but individuals can park their cars there.
For the charges of reckless driving to stick, there must be proving that the offender drove with wanton disregard of the safety of people and property. A person is said to have operated with wanton disregard when:
- They are aware of their actions and that they can lead to significant and unnecessary risks and hard to others or their property, and
- They choose to ignore the risk and drive in such a manner anyway.
The offense does not require the person to have had an intention to destroy for them to be found guilty. At the same time, a person driving at high speed does not necessarily qualify to have been driving recklessly. As the jury considers various factors before deciding the defendant is guilty of reckless driving with speed being one of the elements but not the only factor.
There are various behaviors that are considered reckless driving in the state of Nevada. These include:
- When an individual drives significantly above the legal speed limit
- When an individual disobeys traffic rules such as disregarding a red light
- A person driving carelessly and hitting shoulders and medians
- A person ignoring an order by the police to stop
- When a person drives carelessly out of road rage
When the offense of reckless driving does not result in significant injuries or death, it is a misdemeanor offense in Nevada. However, when significant injuries are sustained or death, the offense is tried as a felony.
Reckless Driving Penalties in Nevada
Penalties for a reckless driving offense will depend on whether any person sustained injuries as a result. When no one gets injured, but the driver and the injuries were mild, violations of NRS 484B.653 will be prosecuted as misdemeanor offenses. However, where another person sustains significant injuries, the crime is prosecuted as a felony. The other person may include a passenger in the car, pedestrians, or individuals in separate vehicles.
When a person is charged with reckless driving where no other individual was injured but the driver, it is a misdemeanor offense as earlier stated. The penalties for the offense when convicted will include:
- Six months sentence
- A cash fine of ranging between $250 and $1,000 for a first-time offender
- A cash fine of between $1,000 and $1,500 for a second offense
- A cash fine of between $1,500 and $2,000 for a third offense
- Both the jail sentence and fine or either of the two
If the judge sentences the defendant to misdemeanor probation, the defendant may skip jail time. But, the defendant is expected to adhere to various conditions of the probation. The defendant may be sentenced to spend their probation time doing community work and is also expected not to commit any other offense.
If the defendant violates any of the probation conditions, the judge can revoke the probation and sentence the defendant to a jail sentence.
Reckless Driving Resulting in Injuries
When another person gets injured as a result of reckless driving by a defendant, the penalties are more severe. A third party can be significantly injured as a result of reckless driving, and the offense becomes a felony in Nevada. This means that the driver will face felony charges, depending on certain factors. Two situations are responsible for turning violations of NRS 484B.653 into felony offenses. These are:
- The act resulted in specific significant injuries or
- The behavior led to serious bodily injuries, and the driver has previously been convicted of:
- Reckless driving violations according to NRS 484B.653
- Speed exhibition or speed contesting or
- Any DUI offense
When accused of reckless driving that results in one of the below significant injuries, it becomes a felony offense. These injuries may include:
- Lost consciousness
- Resulting in a concussion
- Leading to the breaking of fracture of bones
- A loss of a body party or its functionality or an organ
- A serious would that may need prolonged suturing
- A severe disfigurement
- Brain injuries or spinal traumas
When reckless driving resulted in significant injuries and prosecuted as a felony, the penalties are as described under NRS 484B.653. The penalties, in this case, include a state jail sentence lasting between one year and 6 years or a cash fine ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. In some cases, a defendant can be sentenced to both a fine and jail time.
A felony conviction for this offense can also lead to category B felony penalties under NRS 193.130. Depending on the seriousness of the offense or injuries, the defendant can be sentenced to state prison for up to 20 years.
Fatal Reckless Driving in Nevada
Reckless driving has been known to cause fatalities. This is where a person drives without regard to the lives of others and the safety of a property. Because reckless driving is a more serious crime than negligent driving that can result in vehicular manslaughter, it is prosecuted as a felony.
Felonies in Nevada are considered the most serious of crimes. A person facing felony charges faces trial by a jury, and a conviction normally does not carry less than a year of state imprisonment.
Sometimes a defendant can avoid imprisonment by being sentenced to probation. However, a criminal record cannot be avoided and will, in most cases, affect a person’s employment potential. In Nevada, to get an expungement of your criminal record after a felony conviction, one must wait for a significant period. This would typically range between five and ten years, and sometimes expungement may be denied depending on the severity of the offense.
Allegations of causing death due to reckless driving, therefore, carry severe penalties. Getting a defense lawyer is important if one hopes to avoid these charges. Your lawyer can seek to have your charges reduced to misdemeanor ones or lesser charges to avoid felony penalties.
To get a conviction for this offense, however, the prosecutor must prove various elements of the offense. These may include:
- He or she must show evidence that the defendant was the one driving the car
- That the driver was driving recklessly with gross disregard of life and property
- That their reckless driving was the direct cause of the fatality
If the prosecutor is unable to show this, your lawyer can ask for lesser charges such as those of vehicular manslaughter, which are prosecuted as a misdemeanor.
If a defendant is convicted of the offense, he or she will face state imprisonment of between one and six years and a fine ranging between $2,000 and $5,000. If the driver disregarded a police officer’s stop order or evades the officer and causes death, as a result, their charges are more severe. The driver will face felony charges in category B that call for state imprisonment of between two and twenty years. Additionally, the defendant will be required to pay a fine not exceeding $50,000, according to NRS 484B.550.
NRS 484B.130 Violations – Drag Racing and Work Zones
The penalties for the offense are doubled when the act was committed with the intention of recording it for commercial purposes. The recordings may include:
- Visual or video recordings
- Sound recordings
- Visual images
- Another person’s physical impressions.
Reckless driving in a work zone or for racing is a serious offense in Nevada. A conviction of this offense may result in the judge imposing community service upon the defendant. Additionally, the defendant’s driving license will be suspended for between six and twenty-four months. In some cases, the judge can also order the defendant’s car to be impounded.
Legal Defenses for Reckless Driving Charges
As discussed above, the penalties for reckless driving attract severe penalties if found guilty. For this reason, it is imperative to hire a defense lawyer if you are facing these charges. Your lawyer will apply various strategies to fight these allegations against you. Some of the common defenses are:
- You were not the driver – for a person to be found guilty of reckless driving, there must be evidence that the person drove the vehicle. If the police did not catch you in action or while driving, it might be difficult for the prosecution to get a conviction. The prosecution must show evidence that you were the driver, and if not, then doubt is created.
- You were not recklessly driving – to drive recklessly; it requires more than just ordinary negligence. The prosecution must prove that you drove without regard to human life and property and with the knowledge that your driving can result in injuries. The prosecution must prove you drove with gross disregard of the consequences of your actions.
- You had reason to drive recklessly – with a valid reason or driving dangerously due to a cause is a valid defense in this case. Maybe you drove that way to avoid particular danger like being chased by individuals that wanted to harm you. However, for this defense to hold, your lawyer must show why you needed to drive in that manner.
Reckless Driving as a Lesser Charge to a DUI Offense in Nevada
When you get arrested for a DUI offense in Nevada, the prosecutors may refuse to withdraw the case. However, a skillful lawyer can be able to convince them to reduce the charges to those of reckless driving. Even when the plea bargain is successful, most defendants are still required to complete standard DUI penalties in Nevada. These may include attending a DUI school and Victim Impact Panel.
There are benefits associated with a guilty plea for reckless driving. These are:
- After completion of the sentence, the defendant’s criminal record will indicate charges on reckless driving in Nevada but not DUI. Employers in Las Vegas are more tolerant of reckless driving as opposed to DUI offenses.
- When one bargains their DUI charges to reckless driving, the offense will not be counted as a prior DUI offense should you be charged with a DUI offense in the future. This means that if you are arrested on a DUI offense after this one, instead of it being counted as a second offense, it will be referred to as your first DUI offense. This is essential because the penalties for DUI offense are harsh in Nevada and more so for repeat offenders.
Unfortunately, a plea to reckless driving in Nevada increases your demerit points by 8 to your license. A DUI offense, on the other hand, may result in the suspension of your license, but no demerit points are earned.
Find a Lawyer Near Me
If you are facing charges of reckless driving, it is best for you if you hire the services of a criminal lawyer. A conviction of this crime can affect your life in many ways, making it essential to fight and avoid possible conviction or severe penalties. At The Law Offices of Martin Hart in Las Vegas, we can represent you and fight these allegations against you. Get in touch with our office at 702-380-4278, and let us discuss your case further as we advise on your defense.