What is Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving is the criminal act under Rhode Island law of driving a motor vehicle in a manner that either endangers the lives or safety of the public or eludes or flees from a police vehicle. It is not enough for one to operate in a negligent manner, which is less serious than reckless. Actual recklessness is required. To charge Reckless Operation, four discrete elements are required: (1) operation (2) of a motor vehicle (3) on a public way (4) in a reckless manner.
Operation relates to the mechanical operation of a motor vehicle. Any motor vehicle will suffice for Reckless Driving. This includes automobiles, commercial vehicles, construction vehicles and/or equipment, motorcycles, mopeds, and any other motorized vehicle capable of being operated by an individual. It is similarly illegal to operate a motorized boat while under the influence of alcohol. The vehicle in question must be operated on a public way including streets, roads, parking lots, highways, trails and other areas to which the public has access.
Recklessness describes the manner of operation required for this offense. Under Rhode Island law, there are two theories by which to charge Reckless Driving. One theory involves operating a motor vehicle in manner that endangers the lives or safety of the public. Under this theory, recklessness is where the motorist knew or should have known that the manner of operation posed a serious risk of death or serious bodily injury to others and still chose to operate in such a manner. Factors for evaluating the presence or absence or recklessness under this theory of Reckless Operation include, but are not limited to the motorist’s speed and manner of operation; physical condition and ability to both see and could control his vehicle. Other considerations include the mechanical and physical condition of the vehicle, the type of roadway where the operation occurred; who else was on the road with the motorist; the time of day; and both weather and road conditions.
One may be charged with Reckless Driving in the absence of either an accident or actual physical injury. None are required to consummate this offense. One may similarly be charged regardless of traffic conditions. For instance, one who operates recklessly on a roadway where there are no other motorists may be charged.
The second theory under Rhode Island law for Reckless Driving simply involves fleeing from or eluding a police vehicle attempting to make a motor vehicle stop. Under this theory, the manner and circumstance of the actual operation are less important. The emphasis is placed on the failure to stop for police, not necessarily how the motorist operated his vehicle.
Being charged with Reckless Driving may have serious consequences to your license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle. This type of charge also has the potential to impact the cost of your automobile insurance and potential to receive continued coverage from your insurance carrier. Finally, it may also impact the status of commercial driver’s licenses.
If you have been charged with reckless driving and need expert legal representation, contact the RI defense attorneys at the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III by email or call today at (401) 351-5100 to schedule a free consultation.