Reckless Driving and DUI Charges
Each year, thousands of people are injured in accidents that include either a reckless or drunk driver. While it may seem that any drunk driver should be charged with driving recklessly, criminal charges for “reckless driving” and “driving under the influence” (DUI) are issued under different circumstances. Many drunk drivers are only issued a DUI, not a reckless driving charge, but when a drunk driver behaves in a way that puts other drivers in danger, he or she may be arrested on both accounts.
What is Reckless Driving?
Under the law, driving recklessly includes any activity that creates unsafe road conditions for other drivers, such as:
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Improper signaling
- Cutting off other drivers
- Drag Racing
A drunk driver who is discovered by police but did not necessarily commit a reckless act as described above may only be issued a DUI. If, however, the driver is under the influence of alcohol while endangering other drivers, he or she may be arrested on both charges.
Combined Charges and Penalties
Typically, a first offense for DUI or driving recklessly is classified as a misdemeanor crime. In Rhode Island for example, a driver’s first reckless driving arrest is charged as a Class B misdemeanor. Likewise, a first DUI offense without injury is a misdemeanor DUI. Individually these crimes carry a list of possible punishments, including:
- Jail time: Up to 1 year
- Fines: Up to $500
- Community Service: Up to 60 hours
- License Suspension: Up to 18 months
- DUI course or treatment program
When an individual is arrested for two or more offenses at the same time, the driver will be tried for each charge individually. This method that the driver could be convicted of both or all charges, or could have one or more charges reduced or dropped. If the defendant is found guilty for both reckless operation and DUI, he or she could receive the above penalties for each crime, meaning that the total sentence would essentially be double the punishment for a single conviction.
For More Information
If you are facing a DUI charge either alone or with other charges, you will likely confront an aggressive prosecution in court. An experienced DUI defense attorney will protect your rights under the law and steadfastly defend your case to ensure that you receive a fair trial.
To learn more about preparing your defense against DUI and reckless driving charges, please visit the website of Rhode Island DUI lawyer James Powderly today.