VC 23103 (a, b) – Reckless Driving

Reckless Driving Charge in California

VC 23103 (a) A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

(b)  A person who drives a vehicle in an off-street parking facility, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 12500, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving

Violations of California Vehicle Code VC 23103 (a-b) are very serious criminal charges that can have negative consequences that last for 10 years or more.  These are misdemeanor violations, which are criminal offenses.  Misdemeanor violations will give the driver a criminal record for 7-10 years, which will show up on most background searches.

The penalties for violating VC 23103 (a-b) includes 2 points on the DMV record for 10 years, possible jail sentence of 5 days to 3 months, and fines between $300 to $1,000. 

Reckless Driving offenses can double, even triple, a driver’s insurance rates for many years.

If charged with VC 23103 (a) (b), it is highly recommended to hire an experienced attorney to help with this.  An experienced attorney will often get a far better outcome for a driver than that person could obtain on their own.

This is why you never want to accept the charges, plead guilty, and pay the fines for reckless driving violations.

Reckless Driving Penalties

The punishments for reckless driving in California includes:

  • Reckless driving is generally a misdemeanor.
  • If convicted of reckless driving in California, the driver can face up to 90 days in jail.
  • Fines for reckless driving are between $145 to $1,000.
  • If convicted of reckless driving and causing an injury, the driver will receive a misdemeanor on their driving record and 30 days to 6 months in jail and/or a fine between $200 to $1,000.
  • If the injuries caused on others in the accident are considered “severe”, the driver faces much higher consequences. This could result in a felony charge with up to 16 months in jail or 3 years in prison. These injuries include brain injuries, paralysis or other long term bodily injuries.
  • In some cases, the driver will lose their driving privileges. If the judge believes the incident was egregious, the driver’s license may be suspended or revoked for a period, depending on the seriousness of the charges.
  •  Increased insurance premium. Reckless driving charges will inevitably increase monthly insurance prices for the convicted driver. Price increases can cost the driver thousands of dollars over a 3 years period.

Speeding by Itself Does Not Constitute Reckless Driving

There are several factors that must be proven without a shred of doubt, to convict a motorist of reckless driving. The courts must prove to the jury that the driver purposely operated a vehicle with complete disregard for the safety of others.

Wet Reckless Driving Charge

California Vehicle Code (VC) Section 23103.5, also known as a “wet reckless”, is a reckless driving charge that involves alcohol. This charge is less serious than a traditional DUI charge, but it is still a misdemeanor or felony that can create chaos in a driver’s life.

Some DUI arrests are plead as wet reckless driving conviction when there is not enough evidence to convict the driver on a charge of DUI.

Drivers who do not have a history of reckless driving or driving under the influence, will usually be offered a plea of wet reckless. This charge will show as a reckless driving charge in California. If the diver is convicted of a DUI within 10 years of the original reckless driving plea, then that charge will be changed on their record, becoming their first DUI charge in California.

Some of the penalties involved in wet reckless driving are much lenient compared to the penalties for a DUI conviction. The penalties of a wet reckless driving conviction include:

  • Suspended license.
  • Mandatory therapy.
  • Mandatory traffic school.
  • Fines up to $1,000.
  • Increase insurance premiums.
  • Breathalyzer starter.

A DUI charge or wet reckless driving charge should be handled by an experienced California traffic ticket lawyer.

Dry Reckless Driving Charge

If you are caught for DUI, your California DUI attorney may be able to reduce the charge to a dry reckless conviction. Dry reckless driving DOES NOT INVOLVE ALCOHOL.

A dry reckless conviction is less serious in several ways.