People crashing their cars into rivers and other bodies of water occurs surprisingly often and there are often many legal ramifications. Reckless driving charges are often brought up against these drivers, making their life more difficult. If you have crashed your car into a river, here's what you need to know about these cases.
Reckless Driving Definition
When your car ends up in a river, there's a good chance that you will be facing a reckless driving charge simply by the severity of the resulting crash. Reckless driving is typically defined by several different phrases, including:
- Driving in a manner that showed reckless disregard for other people's safety
- Driving at inappropriate speeds for the situation (such as driving too fast for a curve and flying off the road into a river)
- Showing no due caution or circumspection while driving (including passing someone on a road near a river and missing the turn)
- Disregard for reasonable driving behaviors given the circumstance
The phrasing in these laws is deliberately vague in order to cover a wide range of circumstances. For example, if you slid off the road during a snowstorm and crashed through the ice of a river, charges are likely to be brought up claiming that you were driving too fast for the conditions.
Defending The Charge
If you are facing a reckless driving charge after crashing into a river, there are several ways that you can defend yourself against the charge. Basically, you're trying to prove that you weren't driving in a reckless way or that other mitigating circumstances caused your crash:
- The prosecution must prove that you were driving the car, such as having eye-witness testimony or pictures. However, if you were the only person in the vehicle, this defense obviously won't work.
- Your actions were necessary due to the situation. For example, if you crashed into a river due to speeding up to avoid a driver inappropriately entering your lane, you could argue that your actions were necessary to prevent a collision.
- Argue for negligence, rather than disregard of the rules of the road. This is a tricky defense. Essentially, you must prove that you were simply behaving in a negligent manner (such as changing a CD and not paying attention when you struck the guard rail and crashed into the river), rather than blatantly breaking the law.
- Prove that there was inadequate signage for the area. You could argue that the river or guard rails weren't properly noted and that you were unprepared for their sudden appearance.
Penalties That May Occur
Properly defending a reckless driving charge when crashing into a river is important because the penalties for this charge can often be severe. It is often considered one of the most serious traffic offenses and it's not uncommon to face jail time of up to a year, several thousands of dollars in fines, license suspension of 30 days or more, and even a year of probation.
Beyond those legal ramifications is the charge of recovering your towed vehicle, which can cost as much as several thousands of dollars, especially due to the unique difficulties of water towing. Your vehicle may also be impounded by the police as a result of their investigation, requiring renting a temporary vehicle.
However, if your crash was truly not your fault, there's a good chance that a traffic lawyer can help you win this difficult case. If they can create reasonable doubt in the mind of the jury, it's possible that you'll avoid any serious penalties. To learn more, contact a law firm like Walsh Fewkes Sterba