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Reckless driving: A traffic ticket that is a criminal offense

Some traffic tickets need to be treated more seriously than others. One example is reckless driving, which is a misdemeanor in Arizona.

A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that could result in jail time, driver's license suspension, and a permanent criminal record. A misdemeanor conviction could affect much more than your insurance rates. It could affect your employment. Your employer's insurance company may not cover you in company vehicles if you have a conviction for reckless driving.

What is reckless driving?

Arizona defines reckless driving as driving a motor vehicle with "reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property." For a first offense, reckless driving is a class 2 misdemeanor. In addition to a fine and possible jail time, your driver's license may be suspended for a period of time. A second offense within 24 months is a class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, you will need to serve at least 20 days in jail. Your driver's license may be revoked, meaning it will not be automatically reinstated after a suspension period.

Do I have a defense?

Police in Arizona have a great deal of discretion in deciding whether to charge a motorist with reckless driving. An experienced defense attorney may be able to reduce the reckless driving charge to a lesser offense, such as speeding.

To convict you of reckless driving, the prosecutor must prove that you intentionally operated your vehicle in a way that jeopardized the safety of other people or their property. A lawyer may be able to show that your driving did not put other people or their property at risk.

It's important to have a lawyer represent you in court. An attorney is familiar with defenses to reckless driving charges. The judge will be less likely to listen to defenses raised by a motorist.

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