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Failure to drive at safe speeds may result in misdemeanor

We all need to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, but California motorists are required by law to drive at safe speeds, without exceeding the posted speed limits. Motorists who drive at unsafe rates of speed can incur significant penalties and can even face a misdemeanor charge.

Speeding violations in California

Many people think that if they do not exceed the posted speed limit, they are abiding by the law. While the posted speed limit serves as the maximum speed for a vehicle, driving at a safe speed requires drivers to consider a variety of factors and adjust their speed accordingly. Some of these factors include:

  • Road conditions and characteristics
  • Weather conditions
  • Visibility
  • Traffic conditions

Therefore, drivers who are not driving at a safe and reasonable speed based on conditions could be ticketed for excessive speeding, even if they are going the speed limit.

Speeding can result in a reckless driving misdemeanor charge

While most speeding violations will be considered infractions, there are some situations where a speeding offense will be serious enough to qualify as a misdemeanor. For example, driving at an excessive rate of speed can be considered a misdemeanor under California’s reckless driving laws (California Vehicle Code 23103(a)), which prohibit driving a vehicle in ‘deliberate or wanton disregard for others’ safety or property.’ Street racing is one of the most common ways a driver can get charged with a misdemeanor related to speeding.

Driving is a privilege and not a right, so violating traffic law can result in a loss of your driving privileges. Misdemeanor traffic offenses can result in a suspension of your driver’s license, as well as significant fines and jail time of up to one year. If you have been charged with a reckless driving misdemeanor, a criminal defense attorney can help get your charge dismissed or reduce your penalties.

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John Patrick Ryan

John Patrick Ryan has been practicing law for over 20 years. Experienced in criminal law. U.S. Navy Veteran.

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