Motorists who drive recklessly in the State of Missouri may be charged with “careless and imprudent” driving. If this happens to you, reach out as swiftly as you can to a Jefferson County reckless driving attorney for the legal help and advice that you’ll need.

Reckless driving isn’t something that can be definitively recorded or measured like speeding or rolling through a red light. Whether or not someone is driving recklessly is a subjective judgment. Nevertheless, careless and imprudent driving is a quite serious charge in this state.

What constitutes imprudent or careless driving in Missouri? How can you defend yourself and contest a careless and imprudent driving charge? If you’ll keep reading this brief discussion about reckless driving, the law, and your rights in Missouri, you will find the answers below.

What Does Missouri’s Reckless Driving Law Say?

Reckless driving is a growing concern in this state. More than one thousand people died in traffic accidents on Missouri’s streets and highways in 2021, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

The law in Missouri requires motorists to drive carefully, prudently, and at a speed that does not put persons or property at risk. To win a conviction in a careless and imprudent driving case, a Missouri prosecutor must prove that a motorist put others at risk.

When someone is driving, almost any behavior that can be deemed reckless may trigger a careless and imprudent driving charge. Behaviors that might be deemed reckless while driving include but aren’t restricted to:

  1. cutting off others
  2. driving too fast for the road and weather conditions
  3. failing to stop for red lights and stop signs
  4. following too closely (tailgating)
  5. grooming, reading, eating, and using your GPS device or your phone
  6. weaving or drifting among lanes

What Are the Penalties for a Careless And Imprudent Driving Conviction?

Careless and imprudent driving is more than a minor traffic offense. It’s a serious crime. Careless and imprudent driving is a criminal misdemeanor that may be punished upon conviction with an expensive fine or even in some cases with time in jail.

When there was no accident, a careless and imprudent driving charge is usually a Class B misdemeanor, but if the driver caused a traffic collision, the charge is a Class A misdemeanor. Causing serious injuries or property damage could result in even more serious charges.

Drivers in Missouri who are convicted for careless and imprudent driving will have penalty points placed on their driving records, and those drivers may also face a thirty-day driver’s license suspension if they accumulate eight or more points in an eighteen-month period.

Are There Other Penalties?

The legal penalties are not the only penalties. Your auto insurance rates will almost certainly increase, and if you drive for a living or your work requires driving, a careless and imprudent driving conviction may impact your job or your ability to find work that involves driving.

A driver who is convicted of careless and imprudent driving can also end up on the wrong side of a personal injury lawsuit. In civil lawsuits, reckless driving that causes injuries can make a driver liable for a victim’s medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and all related damages and losses.

How Are Careless And Imprudent Driving Cases Handled?

If you’re accused of careless and imprudent driving, getting in touch with the right reckless driving lawyer is your first step. Do not plead guilty to the charge. Consulting a Jefferson County criminal defense attorney and adhering to that attorney’s advice is the best strategy.

If your criminal case goes to trial, a jury will consider several factors when it determines if you’re guilty or innocent of careless and imprudent driving, including the time of day, visibility, weather and road conditions, and traffic congestion at the time of the reckless driving incident.

To convict you for careless and imprudent driving, a Missouri prosecutor must demonstrate that you consciously ignored the peril to others that you created with your driving.

If your Jefferson County reckless driving lawyer can persuade the court that you merely made a single poor driving decision, without criminal intent, you could be offered a plea deal, or the careless and imprudent driving charge could be completely dismissed.

What Will Your Attorney Do in Your Defense?

Since careless and imprudent driving is considered a crime in Missouri, it’s imperative to be defended by a Jefferson County reckless driving attorney who will fight for your rights and steer your case to the best possible resolution.

If a prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you consciously knew or that you should have known that your reckless driving placed others at risk, you could be convicted of careless and imprudent driving.

Depending on the particulars of the charge and your own driving record, a Jefferson County reckless driving lawyer might be able to arrange a plea deal. You would plead guilty to a reduced charge and agree to serve a reduced penalty.

Don’t accept any plea deal before you consult with your attorney, and if you are innocent, reject any plea deal offered by the state and insist on your right to a trial by jury.

What Is a “Wet” Reckless Charge in Missouri?

When a motorist who’s charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Missouri agrees to a plea deal and the DWI charge is lowered to reckless endangerment, the reckless endangerment charge may be called a “wet reckless” charge.

Wet reckless is legally comparable to careless and imprudent driving, with similar penalties for convicted offenders.

When Should You Contact a Jefferson County Criminal Defense Attorney?

If you’re accused of careless and imprudent driving, you should not attempt to act as your own attorney, but you can’t let yourself be defended by the wrong reckless driving lawyer, either.

This can’t be emphasized strongly enough: Careless and imprudent driving isn’t considered a traffic violation. It’s considered a crime. If you’re facing a careless and imprudent driving charge, you must have aggressive, effective legal representation.

If you have been charged with careless and imprudent driving in Missouri, your best hope for avoiding the most severe penalties is to contact an attorney at your earliest possible opportunity.

You’re innocent of the charge until and unless the state can prove that you are guilty. If you’re charged with careless and imprudent driving – or with any serious driving offense in Missouri – you must reach out to a defense attorney in Jefferson County immediately.