Some traffic violations are more serious than others. Someone who exceeds the posted speed limit, for example, would typically only need to worry about paying a fine. If an infraction leads to a crash, then there could be additional consequences.
Yet, some traffic violations are so serious that the person accused is at risk of criminal prosecution, not just a fine assessed because they have to pay a ticket. Reckless driving is one such traffic violation, although state law refers to it as careless and imprudent driving.
What constitutes reckless driving according to Missouri law?
Reckless driving is the failure to drive in a safe manner
Instead of defining reckless driving as specific unsafe actions, which is something many other states do, Missouri statutes instead demand prudent and appropriate driving conduct. Failing to drive in a reasonably safe and appropriate manner can lead to more than just a traffic ticket.
Police officers can arrest someone who does not display proper care while driving. A conviction for failing to exercise the right degree of care could be a class B misdemeanor. If a crash occurs because of careless driving, it would be a class A misdemeanor.
There is a fine line between a ticket and a traffic charge. Driving at excessively high speeds, racing on public roads and driving the wrong way on a one-way street are all examples of behavior that might lead to allegations of unsafe driving. Whether or not the offense should be a misdemeanor or a traffic ticket will often largely be left to the discretion of the officer who witnessed the misconduct.
Understanding why the state pursues traffic charges against certain people may help individuals who are facing charges to plan an appropriate defense with the assistance of a skilled attorney.