Under California CVC 23103, a person who drives a vehicle upon a highway or in an offstreet parking facility in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. Willful, when applied to the intent with which an act is done or omitted, implies simply a purpose or willingness to commit the act, or make the omission referred to. It does not require any intent to violate law, or to injure another, or to acquire any advantage. A person acts wantonly when he/she is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists.
A persons convicted of the offense of reckless driving shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than five days nor more than 90 days or by a fine of not less than one hundred forty-five dollars ($145) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, except as provided in Section 23104 or 23105. Aside from punishment enumerated in the statute, the person will have his/her insurance rate dramatically increase. He/she might also have points added to their driving record.
In order to convict a person of reckless driving, the prosecution must prove all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the prosecution must prove that you actually drove a vehicle. The prosecution must also prove your mental state, i.e. willful or wanton. The reckless driving charge is very case specific. Excessive speed alone is generally not enough to amount to reckless driving. Excessive speed can be a factor that the jury considers, but should not be the sole factor in a prosecution’s case.
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