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The difference between reckless and careless driving

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Posted By | September 19 2017 | Blog, Firm News

With so many ways you can commit a traffic violation, it can be hard to understand what charges you face when the police give you a ticket or arrest you. Broad terms that cover a number of illegal driving behaviors can make things even more confusing.

For example, you have probably heard of reckless driving, but do you know what that entails? Are you aware of careless driving as well and how it is different from reckless driving? They are not the same and do not come with the same penalties, so knowing the difference is the first step in building a strong defense.

What is reckless driving?

Colorado law states that reckless driving involves willfully not caring about the safety of others or property. Although it connotes making a conscious choice to rebel against traffic laws without regard to the danger it may cause, that is not always the case for those facing charges. Examples of reckless driving include:

  • Extreme speeding
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Swerving in and out of traffic
  • Aggression and road rage

Although both reckless and careless driving are class 2 misdemeanors, the former is a more serious offense. Fines and jail time are higher, and loss of license is possible depending on how many points are already on the record.

What is careless driving?

The definition of careless driving is lacking proper attention and good judgment behind the wheel and not taking into account the design and use of the roads. The driver’s intent is not to drive dangerously. A common violation is not proceeding with caution around the following:

  • Emergency vehicles
  • Construction, repair or maintenance vehicles
  • Vehicles on the side of the highway
  • Bicyclists on the road

Other examples include speeding in poor weather conditions, driving while distracted and using a vehicle in disrepair. Even so, there is no guarantee that a violation will fall under a specific category. The court also considers factors such as your driving record, how you reacted if it led to an accident and how much harm you caused.

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