Reckless Driving in Massachusetts

Reckless driving is a serious offense in the state of Massachusetts. If you are faced with a reckless driving charge, expect substantial penalties like fines, license suspension, and jail time. Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90, section 24 prohibits reckless driving of a motor vehicle. It is defined as operating a vehicle in a way that endangers the safety of the public or engaging in unnecessarily high speed on the road. The definition is broad and gives police officers a lot of opportunities to pull someone over for reckless driving.

Reckless Driving Massachusetts

To be convicted of reckless driving, the prosecutor must prove three things beyond an unreasonable doubt:

  1. That the defendant was operating the vehicle
  2. The defendant did so in a public way (drove on the roads or somewhere of public access)
  3. That the defendant did so in a reckless manner. That means, the driver was likely to cause death or serious injuries to another individual, failing to consider the risks.

The judge will acknowledge all relevant facts to determine whether the driver was operating a vehicle recklessly. For example, the speed of the vehicle, weather, and road conditions, time of day, location, the presence of other individuals, and more.

Mass Drunk Driving Laws for Reckless Driving

A DUI is not automatically considered reckless driving, attorneys try and fight to have your charge reduced to reckless driving seeing as the penalties are less severe. The objective is to lessen your sentence and the amount of time that you will lose your license. It is rare to have a DUI charge bargained for reckless driving in Massachusetts but possible. 

A DUI is often charged alongside negligent driving. Since the lives and safety of the public were put in danger, the two come hand in hand. The negligent driving charge stands alone if a driver was driving sober but caused significant harm to an individual or danger to the public. Otherwise, it is an additional charge for an OUI/DUI arrest.

Reckless vs. Negligent Driving

Examples of reckless and negligent driving can vary. The main objective of the reckless or negligent driving charge is that you were knowingly driving unsafely and ignored the risks that you made for public safety. That can include driving at an extremely high speed in traffic, following closely behind other drivers, or weaving in and out of lanes. 

If an accident happens as a result of reckless driving, the prosecutor must still prove that the defendant was reckless, not just negligent, when driving the vehicle.

Reckless Driving vs. DUI

Section 24. (1) (a) (1) states, driving recklessly can lead to fines and penalties in Massachusetts, especially if under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A reckless driving conviction does not require someone to get hurt in the case, or that other individuals were in the same vicinity as the driver that drove recklessly. The only factor required for this charge is that the driver ignores the risk that they are creating when they are driving.

A DUI is comparatively more serious than a reckless driving charge. Your attorney may try to bring your DUI down to reckless driving to benefit you and lower your penalties. The goal of your case is to prevent or drop a DUI charge if possible. 

Punishments for Reckless Endangerment Driving

The punishments for Reckless Endangerment Driving depend on the number of times you have committed the crime and the severity of the case. The state of Massachusetts requires these punishments for reckless or negligent driving:

  • A misdemeanor charge
  • Up to 2 years in jail
  • Up to $200 in fines
  • 60-day license suspension 

Child Endangerment

The Child Endangerment law while operating a motor vehicle is a serious case that results in serious penalties. Melanie’s Law requires that Massachusetts OUI cannot be “filed” or “continued without a finding.” The case will be followed by a mandatory child abuse and neglect report with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Family. In Section 24V. (a) it describes the penalty a person will face for causing danger to a child in their vehicle under the influence.

Penalties for the Massachusetts Law for DUI/OUI Child Endangerment are as follows:

  • A fine of $1,000-$5,000
  • Imprisonment of 90 days to 2 ½ years
  • License suspension for one year

If you face this charge, you will not be granted a hardship license. You may try going to the Board of Appeals to plead your case but there are no guarantees of the result and it is entirely up to the Board’s discretion.

Reckless Driving Plea Bargains

A plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecutor and defendant where the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a benefit given by the prosecutor. Many cases, reckless driving included, are resolved from a plea bargain. Judges and prosecutors favor this option because it lessens the caseload and results in quicker resolutions. 

The advantages of a plea bargain:

  • Reduced charges or sentence
  • Is significantly fewer costs
  • Certainty of the outcome of your case

The disadvantages of a plea bargain:

  • Loss of rights to defend your case
  • You will face a sentence
  • You will now have a criminal record

If you have been charged with reckless or negligent driving or a DUI, you should not agree to a plea bargain without consulting with an experienced attorney. It is best to take into account your attorney’s advisement before taking any action. Bonville & Howard has the experience you need to build a strong defense for your case. Contact Bonville & Howard at your earliest convenience to learn about your options from Fitchburg MA DUI attorneys.



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