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Reckless Driving vs. DUI Charges

By Danielle Briones

Published on March 11, 2013

When a driver has been charged with driving under the influence, a DUI attorney will determine if, due to the circumstances and evidence in your case, the charge can be reduced or dropped altogether. One option that any skilled attorney will look into is getting the DUI charge reduced to a reckless driving charge. Though reckless driving is a serious offense that will result in penalties, the degree of punishment is far less severe than those imposed on a person convicted of a DUI.

The type and severity of DUI and reckless driving penalties vary greatly by state. To learn more about the minimum and maximum DUI and reckless driving punishments in a specific state, consult an attorney who is licensed to practice in that state.

  • Jail Time: Both reckless driving and DUI charges can result in jail time. However, the amount of jail time that must be served is usually far less for reckless driving offenses. In most cases, a reckless driving offense may carry a sentence of no jail time to a few days of jail time, while a DUI charge could result in up to a year in jail. In addition, drivers arrested for a DUI typically must spend at least a few hours in jail after the arrest, while drivers charged with reckless driving may simply be ticketed and allowed to drive home.
  • Fines: Those convicted of reckless driving will pay lower fines and court fees than drivers convicted of a DUI.
  • Your Record: In many states, a reckless driving charge is a lesser offense than a DUI. For example, in Florida, a DUI is a first-degree misdemeanor, while a reckless driving charge is a second-degree misdemeanor. It is important to note that in certain cases, such as when driving under the influence or reckless driving results in bodily injury, the charges could be upgraded to a felony offense.
  • Impounded Car: In most states, authorities impound the vehicle when drivers are arrested for drunk driving. The car may be impounded for several days, and the owner of the vehicle must pay the impound fee in order to get the car back. Some states may also impound the car when a driver is ticketed for reckless driving; however, this usually only happens when the driver is charged with another offense.
  • Revocation of the License: DUI punishments often involve the suspension or restriction of the driver's license. The license may be restricted or revoked in reckless driving cases, but this typically only happens when the driver committed other offenses.

Additional Drunk Driving Penalties

In addition to the penalties mentioned above, those convicted of a DUI may also be sentenced to:

  • Alcohol or Drug Education Classes: Drivers convicted of DUI are often required to attend a minimum number of drug or alcohol courses within a set time period.
  • Ignition Interlock Device: An ignition interlock device analyzes the alcohol content of a driver's breath before he or she can start the motor. When an ignition interlock device is installed, the driver is required to blow into the device every time they want to start the car. If the breath-alcohol content is too high, the car won't start.
  • Probation: When a person is convicted of a DUI, they may be placed under probation for a pre-determined amount of time.

Consult a DUI attorney in your state to find out if your case can be reduced to a reckless driving charge.

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Keyword Tags: dui and dwi, criminal law

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