How Reckless Driving Causes Crashes
Reckless driving in its many forms is a common cause of car accidents in Rhode Island. Some of the ways that reckless driving can cause an accident include:
- Speeding – Disobeying speed limits makes it difficult for drivers to keep control of their vehicles and slow down or swerve to avoid accidents.
- Following too closely – Tailgating drivers cannot easily avoid an accident if the car in front suddenly slows or stops.
- Unsafe lane changes – Making fast and aggressive lane changes can increase a driver’s chances of losing control. Not using turn signals may prevent others from knowing what a reckless driver is doing.
- Failing to yield – Running a stop sign, traffic light, or yield sign can put a driver in the path of oncoming traffic, which could lead to a collision.
- Road rage – If a driver loses control of their emotions behind the wheel, they may not realize they are acting recklessly until they lose control or get into an accident.
Penalties for Reckless Driving in Rhode Island
Rhode Island classifies someone’s first conviction for reckless driving as a misdemeanor. Penalties may include six months in jail, a fine of up to $500, and a three to 18-month driver’s license suspension. The specific sentence for each case will vary. Upon a reckless driving conviction, the judge will consider the severity of the offense and determine the appropriate penalties.
If a reckless driver is convicted a second or subsequent time, it is a felony that carries stiffer penalties. The maximum possible sentence is five years in jail and a fine of $1,000. Felony reckless driving convictions can also lead to lengthy license suspensions or even permanent revocation of the offender’s driving privileges.
The penalties for aggressive driving are less severe than those for reckless driving. Each case will have varying penalties, but according to General Laws, the maximum sentence is a $500 fine and a 30-day driver’s license suspension. The court may also order drivers convicted of aggressive driving to attend a driver safety course.
Remember that someone does not have to be found guilty of a crime to be held liable in a civil injury case. Criminal cases require the prosecution to show that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt – the highest legal standard of proof. Civil cases, however, require that the plaintiff prove it is only more likely than not that the defendant was negligent and is responsible for compensating the person they injured.
You could have a valid claim for compensation against a reckless driver even if the driver is acquitted on reckless driving charges or never charged in the first place.
Proving Liability in Reckless Driving Accidents
Proving the other driver is liable for a reckless driving accident can sometimes be a challenge. You must show that they caused the accident and acted without concern for your safety. Evidence an experienced car accident lawyer might use to build your case may include:
- Police reports
- Crash scene photos
- Eyewitness accounts
- Medical records
- Surveillance footage
- Forensic accident reconstructions
- Expert testimony