There is a broad spectrum of traffic offenses that police encounter on the roads in Hawaii every day. Many people accused of violating traffic statutes face basic and straightforward allegations, such as claims that they exceeded the posted speed limit.
The majority of these infractions will lead only to a traffic citation and a financial penalty rather than any actual criminal charges. However, certain traffic offenses are serious enough to warrant criminal prosecution. Reckless driving is one of the traffic offenses that can lead to criminal charges and possibly a criminal record after a conviction.
Reckless driving is largely in the eye of the beholder
What many people find frustrating about reckless driving allegations is that they depend on the opinion of the police officer who arrested someone. Hawaii classifies any conduct on the road that disregards the safety of others as reckless driving. The law applies to motorists and those riding an animal as well. Police officers who believe that someone has done something unsafe intentionally might pull them over and arrest them for reckless driving instead of just issuing them a speeding ticket. There are a few general rules that help establish the line between reckless driving and generally unsafe habits.
Speeding is not automatically reckless driving, but violating the posted speed limit by 30 miles an hour or more could very well constitute reckless driving. Racing, operating a vehicle in a way that renders it airborne or otherwise engaging in obviously unsafe conduct on the road might lead to the state pursuing reckless driving charges against a motorist.
There are defense options available
Someone accused of reckless behavior at the wheel could raise a defense in court using multiple different techniques depending on the circumstances. For example, someone might have a very reasonable explanation for why they conducted a maneuver that appeared unsafe. The decision to fight those charges can make a big difference for someone accused of recklessness at the wheel, as a conviction would mean not just expenses and possible criminal penalties but also a long-term criminal record that will show up whenever they apply for a new job. A judge could sentence someone to up to 30 days in state custody for reckless driving.
Reviewing the circumstances that led to a reckless driving arrest with an attorney may help people better prepare to respond to the charges they’re facing.