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Reckless Driving Traffic Ticket Defense in Oklahoma

Reckless Driving Traffic Ticket Defense in Oklahoma

By Glen R. Graham, Criminal Defense Lawyer Tulsa, Oklahoma  Phone 918-260-8184

You should talk with a good local, experienced traffic ticket lawyer before your court date. Glen R. Graham attorney at law is an experienced traffic lawyer with over 25 years experience representing the people of Oklahoma.  His website is and his phone number is 918-260-8184.  The traffic laws and the laws concerning reckless driving tickets in Oklahoma are set forth in the Oklahoma Statutes and in the municipal city ordinances of Tulsa, Bixby, Broken Arrow, Glenpool, Jenks, Owasso, Sand Springs, and surrounding areas.

Reckless driving in Oklahoma is a serious criminal offense

Oklahoma reckless driving is a serious criminal misdemeanor and it carries a potential for 4 points on your Oklahoma Department of Public Safety driving record  and  a potential fine of $500, and a potential jail sentence of 90 days.  A second offense carries additional penalties as listed below.
Aside from the fine and jail time, your license could also be suspended up to 1 year. And a reckless driving Oklahoma conviction stays on your Oklahoma DMV record for years and for insurance purposes for a minimum of 3 years.

Oklahoma reckless driving: 1st Offense: 5 days to 90 days and/or 0-$500 plus costs; 2nd Offense: 10 days to 6 months and/or $150 - $1,000 plus costs.

The statutory prohibition concerning reckless driving in Oklahoma is set forth in the Oklahoma Statutes under  title 47 O.S. §11-901 which states:

A. It shall be deemed reckless driving for any person to drive a motor vehicle in a careless or wanton manner without regard for the safety of persons or property or in violation of the conditions outlined in Section 11-801 of this title (which is the general rules of the road speed restrictions).

B. Every person convicted of reckless driving shall be punished upon a first conviction by imprisonment for a period of not less than five (5) days nor more than ninety (90) days, or by a fine of not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment; on a second or subsequent conviction, punishment shall be imprisonment for not less than ten (10) days nor more than six (6) months, or by a fine of not less than One Hundred Fifty Dollars ($150.00) nor more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Further, explanation for the statutory requirements  or required elements to prove reckless driving in Oklahoma are set forth in the Oklahoma jury instructions as stated below:

OUJI-CR 6-32

No person may be convicted of reckless driving unless the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. These elements are:
First, driving;
Second, a motor vehicle;
Third, in a careless or wanton manner;
Fourth(without regard for the safety of persons or property) or (that violated lawful speed limits) or (that [failed to attain]/exceeded the speed that a careful and prudent person would have considered reasonable and proper having due regard for the traffic, surface, and width of the highway, and other conditions) or (that exceeded the speed that a careful and prudent person would have considered reasonable and proper in order to stop within the assured clear distance ahead).

Further and more fruitful discussion concerning the limitations and the definition of reckless driving in Oklahoma are contained the Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instruction Committee Comments following the jury instructions for Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instructions at OUJI-CR-6-32 which is for Oklahoma jury instructions for reckless driving.   See the comments following the relevant listed Oklahoma Uniform Jury Instruction which include:

The first alternative, "without regard for the safety of persons or property," restates the statutory language of section 11-901.  This language seems to indicate that the defendant must have had a conscious awareness of dangers to the safety of persons or property. In the opinion of the Commission, no such subjective mens rea is required for conviction for the crime of reckless driving. To establish the first alternative, it is necessary to prove only that the acts and conduct of the defendant, as judged by an objective reasonable-and-prudent-person standard, created dangers for the safety of persons or propertyLamb v. State70 Okl. Cr. 236105 P.2d 799 (1940).

The three other alternatives of the fourth element list violations of the conditions of 47 O.S. 1991, § 11-801. Subdivision (a) of section 11-801 has a general rule concerning the expected appropriate conduct of drivers with regard to the speed at which they should drive. The provisions of the general rules are reflected in the last two alternatives of the fourth element. The remaining subdivisions of section 11-801 set specific speed limits for various situations and types of vehicles. Violation of speed limits is the second alternative. The Commission has stated the violations of section 11-801, rather than using the statutory language of section 11-901, in order to avoid the necessity for a separate definitional instruction for the violations of section 11-801.

It should be stressed that proof that the defendant has driven in a manner which disregards the safety of persons or property, or which violates the conditions of section 11-801, is not enough by itself to convict the defendant of the crime of reckless driving. The State must also prove that the defendant was driving in the "careless or wanton manner" of the third element. For example, the defendant must not only be speeding, but also must be speeding to such an extent that his conduct would constitute culpable negligence. A "careless or wanton manner" signifies more than simply a violation of the speeding laws; it signifies culpable negligence. Chappell v. State462 P.2d 325 (Okl. Cr. 1969);Scott v. State71 Okl. Cr. 54108 P.2d 189 (1941).

The Commission has decided that the best way to understand the coverage of the reckless-driving crime of section 11-901 was to compare the facts of cases in which the Court of Criminal Appeals has indicated that a reckless-driving conviction is proper with the facts of cases in which the Court of Criminal Appeals has reversed a reckless driving conviction for insufficient evidence. Conviction proper: Wolf v. State375 P.2d 283 (Okl. Cr. 1966) (intoxicated driver forcing other drivers off the road); Matchen v. State349 P.2d 28 (Okl. Cr. 1960) (speeding at 100-105 m.p.h.); Hooper v. State348 P.2d 191 (Okl. Cr. 1959) (driving up behind cars then skidding sideways and passing in face of oncoming traffic, thereby forcing other cars off the road); Sullivan v. State333 P.2d 591 (Okl. Cr. 1958) ("three beers" and 80-85 in a 55 m.p.h. zone, resulting in accident); Allen v. State273 P.2d 152 (Okl. Cr. 1954) ("three beers" and accident); Hoover v. State94 Okl. Cr. 227233 P.2d 327 (1951) (passing in the face of oncoming traffic, causing accident). Conviction not proper: Herman v. City of Oklahoma City501 P.2d 1111, 1112 (Okl. Cr. 1972) (no evidence of speed of vehicle); Scottsupra, (backing out of driveway into road and a collision occurred).

Mitigating factors

There are lots of factors that we can argue to the judge to reduce or even dismiss a reckless driving charge. You’ll want to talk with an attorney about the ones that apply to your unique case, but a few general guidelines are:
 *  Good driving record
 *  Speedometer reading incorrectly
 *  Radar calibration issues
 *  Legitimate emergency
There are many other factors that can play into some specific types of reckless driving charges. And your attorney might be able to further lessen your potential punishment. You might need to take several steps in advance to help properly prepare your case for court:
 *  Get a copy of your driving record 
 *  Have your speedometer calibrated.  Take pictures of the area.  Obtain witness statements.
 *  Take a "live" DPS approved  driver education class (normally completed as part of the plea bargain)
 *  As part of a plea bargain if the court allows it then you may complete some community service.
Judicial discretion
The traffic court judges in Tulsa County District Court and the surrounding municipal courts of Tulsa, Bixby, Broken Arrow, Glenpool, Wagoner,  exercise considerable discretion in determining your reckless driving punishment. This means that an attorney can argue for you and possibly reduce your charge or punishment.
Importantly, judges can use their discretion to reduce a reckless driving charge to “carelss driving.” Careless driving is a mere traffic infraction with a fine of no more than $500. Careless driving only carries two DMV points, and it is removed from your  driving record for insurance purposes after three years.  Most importantly if your attorney can obtain a plea bargain agreement to reduce your charge from reckless driving to careless driving, then you would not lose your driver’s license for one (1) year by virtue of a conviction for reckless driving.
 Reducing Points

Points can often be reduced in three ways:

  *  You will have two points removed for each 12 month period in which you do not receive another pointable ticket.
  *  If you go for three consecutive years after your last violation with no violations, all points will be removed from your driving record and you will revert to a clean driving record.

  *  You may also reduce your driving record by two points if you attend traffic school. 

No Work Permit Driver's License for Reckless Driving Convictions in Oklahoma

Aaron’s law, which is a new Oklahoma traffic law that became effective November 1, 2011,  also states that drivers will have their driver’s license suspended for one (1)  year if they are convicted of reckless driving, or failing to obey traffic signs (stop/yield/other) that results in great bodily injury or failing to stop for a school bus loading or unloading children. The suspension of the driver’s license will not be eligible for modification which means there will be no work permit to drive if you get convicted.  If convicted, you would totally lose your drivers license for one (1) year, and your license would be suspended, with no work permit.   You should hire a lawyer for you on this matter to attempt to negotiate a plea bargain to avoid a conviction for the offense charged.