Defending a reckless driving
charge in Connecticut
Unlike other states, it is very easy to be charged
with the misdemeanor crime of reckless driving in the State of Connecticut.
This is because Under CT MV L. § 14-222, Connecticut has enacted a “per se”
category; if you are driving 86 miles per hour or more anywhere in the state
of Connecticut, you can be arrested for reckless driving:
“The operation of a motor vehicle…at
a rate of speed greater than eighty-five miles per hour shall constitute a
violation of the provisions of this section.”Connecticut Motor Vehicle Law
§ 14-222; reckless driving.
The second way a person can be charged with reckless
driving is if they operate a motor vehicle “recklessly” on a roadway with
an established speed limit under CT MV L. § 14-218a, or a road of a chartered municipal association / district organized,
or in any parking area for ten cars or more. Ways of establishing recklessness
written in the statute include operating so fast as to endanger life, or operating
a commercial motor vehicle on a downgrade in neutral, or knowingly operating
a motor vehicle with defective mechanism.
Proving reckless driving requires
proof of the “mens rea,” or culpable mind
Law Dictionary defines recklessness as conduct which an unnecessary
harmful consequence is foreseen and the actor consciously takes the
risk, or when the actor does not care about the consequences of his
or her actions. This is a subjective test, whereby the defendant must
have had the ability to know the surrounding circumstances in order
to be found guilty of recklessness driving.
If you are charged with reckless driving, the
state must not only prove the act but has the added burden of proving culpability
in that the defendant had a guilty mind. While this is not easy to do, a culpable
mind can be proven by inference through conduct.
Beating the reckless driving
At its best, a charge of reckless driving rests
on the opinion of the police officer. At trial we bring out specifics of what
our client was doing safely and correctly. Indeed, unless charged with driving
in excess of 85 miles per hour, no one or series of driving infractions rises
to the level of recklessness in and of itself. In other words, a momentary
lapse in judgment is not reckless. Also, there has to have been a 3rd
person in the vicinity who could have been injured to sustain the charge of
reckless driving. When charged with doing over 85 MPH, we can attack the veracity
of the radar and the police officer’s visual estimation. We can also attempt
to negotiate a plea to a simple infraction in lieu of taking the case to trial,
where conviction is always a possibility.
Administrative and punitive
penalties for reckless driving are severe
Being found guilty of reckless driving is a major
insurance merit system violation. This means that your insurance will increase
greatly. If you drive for a living or hold a CDL, it can be suspended and
your employer may also discharge you from your employment. A conviction can
also result in a 30 day jail sentence and court fines, surcharges, and costs.
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