Reckless Driving + DWI: A Double Charge or Not?
Can I Be Charged For Reckless Driving & DWI in the Same Incident?
The answer, as in most legal matters, is “it depends.” With reckless driving and DWI, the reason it depends is that reckless driving is based on how you drive while DWI is based on your physical condition while you drive.
What Is Reckless Driving In Texas?
Reckless driving is defined by statute in Texas as driving with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of people or property. It is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum of 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $200.
Offenders can receive up to 3 points on their license if there is an accident and can lose their driver’s license for 30 days. Unless there are injuries involved, reckless driving offenders seldom receive jail time and there is recourse to cut your license suspension short in certain circumstances.
However, reckless driving is still a criminal offense in Texas and it should be taken seriously. It does, after all, show up on your criminal record as a conviction.
Is Reckless Driving A Lesser Included Offense of DWI?
A lesser-included offense simply means that in order to commit the greater offense, you must first commit the lesser offense. Another way of approaching it would be to ask: if I have committed DUI, have I also committed reckless driving?
In Texas, reckless driving is not a lesser-included offense. As stated previously, this is because reckless driving is based on how you drive and DWI is based on your condition as you drive.
But Can I Be Charged With Both?
Depending on the circumstance of the traffic stop, it is possible to be charged with both reckless driving and DWI from the same incident.
For example, if you were to run three consecutive red lights and then get pulled over by a police officer who witnessed the incident, you would most likely be cited for reckless driving. However, if he then smelled the strong odor of alcohol on your person, he may then have probable cause to pursue a DWI case against you.
On the other hand, if you are pulled over for a missing tag, tail light or similar administrative defect with your vehicle and the officer smells alcohol, he could only charge you with the DWI infraction along with whatever administrative citation that lead to the stop. In other words, the DWI itself is not grounds for a reckless driving charge in Texas.
There is precedent, however, that the DWI can be grounds for reckless driving in cases where the offender’s BAC level was so elevated that willful and wanton disregard for safety can be alleged and proven by prosecutors.
Although these charges can be brought together in Brazoria County, they are seldom ever filed together. If the officer smells the odor of alcohol you can expect that reckless driving will never be considered and that the DWI charge will be pursued by the District Attorney!
Seek DWI Defense From Experienced Litigators
If you live in or around Brazoria County, and have been charged with either DWI, reckless driving, or both, you need to seek out experienced representation, that’s focused on DWI defense, to effectively fight the charge.
You don’t want to trust your future to the kindness of the prosecutor.
The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates will provide you with the kind of representation you deserve. Tad Nelson, himself, has over 30 years of experience in dealing with cases just like yours in Brazoria, Alvin, Angleton, and Pearland, TX, and is happy to discuss defensive legal options catered to your situation.
TAKE ACTION NOW
To take action immediately! Call to speak to one of our two lead attorneys at (979) 267-6081. We’re serious when we say we’ll fight for you. We are a team.