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Experienced Attorney Defends Reckless Operation Charges in Columbus

Effective representation yields positive results for Ohio drivers

If you are charged with reckless operation of a vehicle, you should know that this is more than a simple traffic offense. In some cases, you can go to jail and have your license suspended. Considering the potential consequences, you should not go to court without an experienced defense attorney at your side.  For more than 30 years, Luckett Law Office has successfully defended motorists in Columbus and vicinity from serious traffic offenses, including reckless operation. We are prepared to defend you vigorously to obtain the most favorable resolution of the charge possible under the facts of the case.

What constitutes reckless operation of a vehicle in Ohio?

The Ohio Revised Code §4511.20 defines reckless operation as driving with “willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property.” In other words, the driver is accused of driving dangerously and putting people and property at risk. But there’s also a mental component: the driver must intend to create danger or recognize the danger and simply not care.

Some actions behind the wheel are so inherently dangerous that courts are willing to assume the required mental state existed. These include:

  • Exceeding a posted speed limit by 25 mph or more
  • Jumping a curb or median
  • Going the wrong way on a highway or one-way street
  • Crossing a double yellow line
  • Illegal passing
  • Running a red light

But there are other maneuvers that, while dangerous, are not so excessive that they’d be immediately tagged as reckless, such as:

  • Following too closely
  • Failing to yield the right of way to another vehicle or a pedestrian
  • Abrupt stopping in traffic

However, when these actions take place in a larger context where a driver seems to be taunting other motorists or pedestrians, or simply puts others at blatant risk of harm, a charge of reckless operation is possible.

What are the penalties for reckless driving in Ohio?

The magnitude of the charge and the accompanying penalty depend in large part on the driver’s prior record:

  • Clean record — For a driver with no prior traffic convictions within the past year, reckless operation is charged as a minor misdemeanor for which there is no jail time and a maximum fine of $150. A court can order community service.
  • One prior traffic conviction — If the driver has been convicted of one traffic offense within the past year, reckless driving is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $250.
  • Two prior traffic convictions — If a driver has been convicted of two or more traffic offenses within the past year, reckless driving is a third-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $500.

Reckless driving also adds four penalty points to your license. With such heavy penalties (not to mention increased insurance premiums), it’s imperative to fight the charge with an experienced traffic lawyer at your side.

Reckless operation is often a judgment call on the part of the citing officer, and since the charge requires evidence of the mental state of the driver, it’s often possible to get a reduced charge of “operation without reasonable control.” This charge doesn’t require the reckless mental state, so a driver can be guilty of losing control even accidentally.

However, challenging a police officer’s testimony and negotiating a reduced charge requires skill and experience. You should trust a seasoned attorney rather than attempting to represent yourself.

Negotiating a plea of “wet reckless”

If you have been arrested for DWI/OVI in Ohio, and you have no prior convictions, it’s often possible for us to negotiate a plea to a lesser charge of reckless driving. Ohio does not have a specific “wet reckless” statute like other states that recognize “reckless driving with alcohol,” but courts will often let a first-time offender plead to the standard charge of reckless driving, which carries lesser penalties and does not require an automatic license suspension.

Contact an experienced Columbus attorney to fight your reckless driving charge

A charge of reckless operation can be costly and even land you in jail. Luckett Law Office capably defends motorists from reckless driving charges throughout Central Ohio. Our office is conveniently located at 24 North High Street, just one block away from the Ohio Statehouse in the heart of downtown Columbus. To schedule a free consultation, call 614-721-2949 or contact our office online.