The law in Connecticut gives some examples of what can constitute reckless driving, but it does not explicitly define what constitutes recklessness any further. The law does prohibit motorists from driving a motor vehicle recklessly, considering the road conditions. If a reckless driver crashed into your vehicle, you should discuss your options with a car accident attorney.
What Is Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving is generally understood to be the creation of a substantial, unreasonable, and unjustifiable risk of harm to others and a deliberate and conscious disregard or indifference to that risk.
Under Connecticut law, reckless driving requires a conscious and intentional choice by a motorist to act in a way that any reasonable person would say presents a grave danger to others.
However, recklessness in a driver’s conduct requires more than just failure to exercise a reasonable degree of watchfulness or care to avoid danger to others. Recklessness is more than just negligence.
Examples of conduct that can rise to a level of recklessness include:
- Traveling at excessive speeds. Driving at a speed of over 85 miles an hour is reckless driving in Connecticut. Intuitively, there should not be any difference between driving at 84 miles an hour and 85 miles an hour, but the law has to make a distinction between what is reckless and what is not. In Connecticut, the magic number is 85, but that does not mean driving at 84 miles an hour is any less dangerous, and speeding drivers can cause injuries even if they were not technically reckless.
- Ignoring traffic laws. Motorists who weave in and out of lanes could find themselves arrested, charged, and convicted of reckless driving, and the same goes for those who deliberately ignore and drive through traffic signals or stop signs.
- Racing. There are daredevils and other thrill-seekers who choose to deliberately race their cars down roads with other vehicles on the road, either by themselves or with others. Street racing poses a substantial danger both to racers and to everyone else who shares the same road. Regardless of how they do it or at what speeds, racing on the road is a constant danger and an accident waiting to happen.
- Passing on a blind curve. Every driver knows not to cross a solid yellow line on the road to pass another vehicle. Every driver also knows roads are marked with a broken yellow line to indicate where safe passing can occur. However, some ignore these rules, and when they pass at a blind curve where they cannot possibly see what is coming in the opposite direction, they take the risk of harm to a level that the law deems reckless.
Reckless Driving Laws
Connecticut’s law provides that “No person shall operate any motor vehicle on any public highway… recklessly, having regard to the width, traffic, and use of such highway.” The law does single out several specific actions as violations, including driving at a speed that puts the life of someone other than the driver in danger and driving more than 85 miles per hour. Other actions the law prohibits are driving a commercial vehicle downhill with the gear disengaged and knowingly operating a defective vehicle.
The law punishes reckless driving with a fine of $100 to $300, imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both for a first offense and a fine of up to $600, imprisonment for up to one year, or both for any subsequent offense.
Reckless Driving and Personal Injury
More than 36,000 people died in a recent year in accidents on the road across the United States. Millions of others sustain and suffer serious, often fatal, or life-altering injuries. Many of these serious injuries and deaths are the result of reckless driving accidents. If you or a loved one were the victims of an accident caused by a reckless driver, then contact a Connecticut accident attorney to discuss your options. The law gives people in this situation the right to file a personal injury claim.
Consequences of Reckless Driving
The most obvious potential consequence of reckless driving is the heightened risk of causing a serious accident. When a motorist is flying through a roadway above the posted speed limit, he or she may not be able to react or respond to a hazardous situation such as a slow vehicle ahead or one that must stop for traffic or an obstacle. A high-speed accident could result in death or life-altering injuries to others sharing the road.
Besides the possibility of facing liability for an accident and injuries, reckless drivers can face criminal charges and possible fines, jail time, or probation.
Insurance companies are all about trying to keep their payoffs at a minimum, and if they notice risky behavior among some of their policyholders, the inclination is to increase the premium costs to offset the risk. So, a driver with a record of reckless driving will likely see their insurance premium go up, especially if the violation is repeated and above what one might expect to be an exception. Insurance rates can also increase if a reckless driver causes a crash and injuries, as the insurer will be responsible for covering the losses of victims.
A driver driving recklessly can also face a personal injury lawsuit if their reckless driving causes an accident that results in injuries, death, or other losses. Injured accident victims or surviving family members can seek compensation to cover costs and expenses related to their injuries, such as medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.
If you suffered injuries in an accident that happened due to a reckless driver, call a Connecticut car accident lawyer for advice on what you need to do to uphold your rights and obtain full compensation.