Bronx Aggressive Driving Lawyer
In the State of New York, driving in an aggressive manner—or reckless driving, as it is called under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law—is a criminal offense even if no collision results. This means that a conviction for this offense not only adds points to your driving record but also creates a criminal record and could even end with a jail sentence. It is essential that defendants facing allegations of aggressive driving be prepared to defend themselves.
A Bronx aggressive driving lawyer could help if you have received a summons to appear in criminal court to answer allegations of reckless driving. Your accomplished criminal defense attorney could work to help you understand the implications of this charge and prepare a defense in court designed to protect your driving privileges and freedom.
What is Aggressive Driving Under New York Law?
There is no specific offense called aggressive driving in the State of New York. Instead, New York Vehicle and Traffic Law §1212 considers the use of any motor vehicle in a way that “…unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway” to constitute the offense of “reckless driving.”
A police officer who makes an arrest for reckless driving is authorized to use their discretion when charging a defendant with this offense. For example, if a defendant is speeding on a road in The Bronx, the responding officer may use their judgement to determine if this constitutes recklessness under the above definition.
While one officer may classify a certain action as reckless, another may not. As a result, a court hearing the evidence is asked to make the same judgment call. While there is no exact list of what kind of driving is reckless, some common examples include:
- Excessive speeding
- Driving the wrong way down a one-way street
- Driving on a sidewalk
- Driving with excessive weight or unsecured cargo
A Bronx aggressive driving attorney could help a defendant better understand the legal definition of reckless driving and how to combat these allegations in court.
What is a “Serious Driving Offense?”
Under state law, aggressive driving is considered a “serious driving offense.” This is an important distinction because a serious driving offense could impact a person’s ability to obtain a driver’s license for years to come.
Whether or not a person has a serious driving offense on their record comes into play following multiple alcohol- or drugged-driving related convictions. In some cases, a person with multiple prior DWIs could lose their ability to qualify for driving privileges if they also have a serious driving offense on their record. In addition to reckless driving, other serious motor vehicle offenses include involvement in fatal accidents, a high number of accumulated points on a license, or multiple major moving violations.
Penalties for a Reckless Driving Conviction
Unlike most moving violations in The Bronx, a conviction for a reckless driving charge is a criminal matter. The officer responding to the scene has the authority to either arrest the accused party or release them with a summons to appear in criminal court. It is mandatory for someone accused of reckless or aggressive driving to appear in court for a criminal arraignment.
A conviction for reckless driving creates a criminal record and is a misdemeanor offense. This means that a court may sentence a defendant to pay a fine of up to $1,000, serve up to one year in jail, or both.
A reckless driving conviction also necessitates the payment of a fine of $300 in addition to any criminal penalties. The court would also apply five points to a guilty defendant’s driver’s license, potentially resulting in a license suspension if a defendant has prior moving violations. Insurance premiums may rise as a result as well.
What are Common Defenses to Aggressive Driving Charges?
The language of the aggressive driving statute is subjective. Because it potentially covers a wide array of conduct, it may not always be clear that an aggressive driving charge is appropriate. The fact the officer made a judgment call could provide grounds for an attorney to argue innocence. With the right defense strategy, it could be possible to convince a judge or jury that the conduct described by the police was at most a minor traffic violation that did not rise to the level of aggressive driving.
Many aggressive driving allegations are not witnessed by the police. This could mean that third-party witnesses could be required to testify. Because these individuals typically do not have the experience testifying that police do, it could be possible for an attorney to poke holes in their story. For better or for worse, juries also tend to place substantial weight on the testimony of the police. This could provide defense counsel with an opportunity to push back on the claims of the witness by seeking bias or identifying conflicting areas of testimony. If the court does not find the witness credible, they could acquit a defendant at trial on an aggressive driving charge.
How a Bronx Aggressive Driving Attorney Could Help
Allegations of aggressive or reckless driving are serious matters. Unlike most moving violations, reckless driving is a criminal accusation for which a conviction can result in a jail sentence. This is in addition to any driver’s license ramifications you may have to endure for the associated traffic violation.
However, the laws concerning reckless driving are somewhat open to interpretation, and as such a jury may be likely to see the case in your favor if you have strong legal representation. A Bronx aggressive driving lawyer could help you understand the relevant sections of the law, cross-examine the arresting officer on the witness stand, and present your case effectively and convincingly. Call today to learn more.