Reckless driving includes various driver behaviors and actions behind the wheel, many of which can lead to dangerous accidents and life-threatening injuries. Under New York law, reckless driving occurs when a Brooklyn driver operates any motor vehicle, including motorcycles, in a way that interrupts the use of the highway or endangers other users. Those who commit reckless driving in Brooklyn and throughout New York face a misdemeanor if convicted.
The NYPD issues thousands of traffic citations to drivers across the boroughs each day, some of which are reckless driving tickets. However, reckless driving tickets typically come with other citations, especially when a reckless driver causes an accident that results in severe or fatal injuries. If you have sustained injuries in a Brooklyn traffic crash caused by a reckless driver, contact a lawyer to discuss your options to recover compensation for your injuries.
Until you have a chance to consult with an attorney, this guide provides more information about reckless driving, driver behaviors that lead to reckless driving accidents, penalties for reckless driving in Brooklyn, and how you can seek compensation for damages after an accident with a reckless driver in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Driver Behaviors That Lead to Reckless Driving Accidents
New York’s reckless driving statute does not spell out the specific actions that constitute reckless driving, giving NYPD officers discretion to issue a ticket in situations they feel qualify as reckless driving. For example, Brooklyn drivers who go more than 25 miles per hour, the speed limit on most of Brooklyn’s streets, can receive a speeding ticket.
However, if a driver excessively speeds, an officer might choose to issue a reckless driving citation instead of a speeding ticket. This is especially common if speeding leads to property damage, bodily injury, or fatality.
Other examples of driver behaviors that often lead to a reckless driving ticket and sometimes lead to Brooklyn reckless driving accidents include:
- Ignoring traffic control devices, including stop signs, stoplights, and school bus signs
- Racing vehicles on Brooklyn’s roads and streets
- Tailgating other vehicles
- Improperly passing other vehicles
- Darting in and out of traffic
- Ignoring railroad crossing arms and other barriers
- Drunk driving
- Drugged driving
Motivations for Reckless Driving
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) devotes resources to study reckless driving, also referred to as aggressive driving. The NHTSA defines aggressive driving as operating a motor vehicle in a way that endangers others on the road or their property. They seek to understand why people drive aggressively, so they can implement policies and regulations that prevent dangerous, reckless driving accidents and associated injuries and fatalities.
The NHTSA’s research has not uncovered specific causes of reckless driving, but the research has revealed various factors that often contribute to reckless driving. The agency continues to collect data from police departments throughout the United States, including the NYPD. Their analysis continues to point to four common situations that are commonly associated with reckless driving tickets. Drivers might be motivated to drive recklessly by one or more of these factors depending on their circumstances:
Traffic congestion delays drivers from getting where they need to be, motivating some drivers to make poor choices behind the wheel and making Brooklyn a prime location for reckless drivers. Road construction, accidents, funeral processions, and an abundance of cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles on the road can lead to traffic delays.
Drivers who do not have the patience for a delay sometimes choose to weave in and out of traffic, tailgate other vehicles, speed excessively after they get through the delay, or engage in other aggressive driving behaviors.
Brooklyn’s residents have the same stresses as the rest of the city, which often includes racing to and from meetings, work, and other obligations. Depending on the situation, drivers might run late when heading to classes, going to work, dropping kids off at school or practice, attending events, going to a business meeting, or any other appointment.
According to the NHTSA, the average mother makes five trips each day, which takes about an hour of travel time and covers about 30 miles. Demands include grocery shopping and taking kids to and from school, sports practice, and other extracurricular activities, and taking them to doctor and dentist appointments. Mothers, fathers, and other drivers who have stressful and demanding schedules sometimes make reckless choices to get to their destination on time as they drive around Brooklyn.
Feelings of Anonymity
The NHTSA has also studied some psychological factors that motivate people to drive aggressively. Two common feelings include anonymity and detachment. When people are in their cars, they feel safe to drive recklessly because other drivers do not know who they are. When drivers or people are in situations where they are not anonymous, they are more likely to follow social norms. This is not to say that everyone weaves in and out of traffic, speeds, and engages in reckless driving when no one is watching, but for some, this motivates them to make poor choices, especially if they are in a hurry.
The NHTSA reports that aggressive driving is rare when you compare it to other driving infractions. Reckless drivers are typically repeat offenders. For some, driving recklessly is the only way they drive, suggesting long-term mental health issues. However, the NHTSA acknowledges that sometimes driving recklessly is a one-time behavior brought on by a stressful situation or day.
Those who habitually engage in reckless driving often suffer from frustration and anger and confront others on the road. These continuous behaviors highlight that habitual reckless driving is pathological and emerges from deeper emotional struggles that someone might experience.
Penalties and Fines for Reckless Driving in Brooklyn
A person who causes an accident by driving recklessly likely faces a citation for reckless driving. Under New York law, reckless driving is a misdemeanor that is part of someone’s criminal record if convicted. Reckless driving convictions carry various fines and penalties depending on whether the driver is a first-time offender.
Fines for Brooklyn Reckless Driving
The first offense for reckless driving in New York comes with a fine ranging from $100 to $300. Brooklyn drivers who receive a second reckless driving ticket within 18 months might have to pay up to a $525 fine. A third reckless driving conviction comes with a maximum fine of $1,125. Fines for traffic citations in New York also includes fees and surcharges that can be hundreds of dollars depending on the situation and how many prior convictions a reckless driver has on his or her record.
Jail Time for Brooklyn Reckless Driving
Jail time is not common for moving violations. Yet, those convicted of reckless driving have a real possibility of spending some time in jail, depending on the circumstances. New York courts have the discretion to sentence reckless drivers up to 30 days in jail for their first conviction, up to 90 days for their second conviction, and up to six months of jail time for a third conviction.
Drivers’ License Penalties for Reckless Driving
Brooklyn drivers convicted of reckless driving also face points getting added to their New York drivers’ licenses. The state assigns a point value to each moving violation; a reckless driving conviction is five points against a license. Once a driver accumulates 11 points within 18 months, they face license suspension or revocation, depending on the situation.
Steps After a Brooklyn Reckless Driving Accident
New York law provides pathways for you to recover compensation for damages after you suffer injuries in a Brooklyn reckless driving accident. Whether you choose to file an insurance claim or car accident lawsuit will depend on your situation. Regardless of your choice, you need to take careful steps in the minutes, days, and weeks after the accident to preserve the value of your claim. You cannot take some steps if you suffer debilitating physical injuries, but do the best you can or ask a passenger or family member to help you.
If you, the reckless driver, or any other occupant in either vehicle has suffered injuries, you need to call 911 immediately and dispatch the NYPD, ambulances, and other emergency responders. You should also try to move your vehicle to the side of the road and out of traffic, if possible.
Accept Medical Treatment
When people walk away from a traffic accident, they sometimes assume they have no injuries and deny medical treatment at the accident scene. Not all injuries immediately cause severe pain or symptoms, so accident victims go home feeling a little sore, only to realize they have injuries later on.
This is especially common with internal injuries and traumatic brain injuries. Left untreated, these types of injuries can be fatal. It’s best to take an ambulance ride or head to the nearest Brooklyn emergency room and let a doctor check you out for common accident injuries. This also provides documentation of your injuries for insurance claims and car accident lawsuits.
Collect Information at the Accident Scene
Reckless drivers sometimes have a strong incentive to leave the scene of the accident. NYPD will come to the accident scene in Brooklyn and fill out a police report, but you should gather information to ensure you get what you need and do not fall victim to a hit-and-run reckless driving accident.
Information you should record includes:
- Time, location, weather conditions, and road conditions
- Actions the reckless driver committed that led to the accident such as swerving, following too closely, speeding, etc.
- Contact information and insurance information from the reckless driver
- Photos of license plates of the reckless driver
- Photos or videos of property damage to your vehicle and the other vehicle
- Photos or videos of any visible injuries
Keep in mind that reckless drivers might be angry and aggressive. Stay calm and use your judgment about approaching the driver for contact information. It might be best to stay inside your car until NYPD officers arrive. It’s great to gather evidence, but you do not want to put yourself in harm’s way to do so.
File an Insurance Claim
New York is a no-fault insurance state. If you registered your vehicle with the state, you must carry a minimum of $50,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. As soon as possible after a Brooklyn reckless driving accident, you need to file a claim under your PIP policy.
Sometimes PIP benefits will cover the entire cost of a minor accident. In cases with severe injuries, you might have to wait months or years before seeing any money, so PIP benefits help with medical expenses and lost wages in the interim. Your PIP coverage also extends to you if a reckless driver caused you injuries as a pedestrian or cyclist. However, PIP coverage does not extend to those on motorcycles.
Keep Proof of Economic Loss
Getting reimbursement from your insurance company, a reckless driver’s insurance company, or filing a lawsuit requires you to have proof of economic loss related to the accident and your injuries. Keep copies of all medical expenses related to your accident, as well as copies of payroll information that shows the time you missed from work because of your injuries. Additionally, keep all receipts related to the accident and your injuries, including vehicle repair receipts, transportation costs to and from the doctor, receipts for household help, and more. Your attorney can advise you on what to include in your claim.
Consult a Brooklyn Reckless Driving Accident Attorney
Reckless drivers cause severe accidents that sometimes lead to serious injuries or fatalities. In the most severe cases, accident victims quickly meet or exceed their PIP policy limits. An experienced Brooklyn reckless driving accident attorney can guide you through the claims process and help you seek compensation beyond your PIP policy. A skilled lawyer also communicates and negotiates with insurance companies and legal defense teams, protecting you from strategies they use to devalue your injury claim so that you can focus on healing from your injuries.