The California rules of the road prohibit anyone from driving faster than is safe for the conditions of the road at any given time. Though there are posted speed limit signs on most roads, and default, "prima facie" speed limits as set forth in city ordinances, California drivers must also always take into consideration what a safe speed is, given the conditions. With notoriously bad California traffic, extreme weather, or poorly maintained roads, driving the posted speed limit may not be safe in every case. That being said, it can be hard to know what a "safe" speed is, and, coupled with fast moving traffic, it is easy to end up exceeding a safe speed without even realizing it. Most of us have gotten a speeding ticket or two in our lives. Speeding tickets are generally considered citable offenses, punishable with a fine and sometimes an order for traffic school. They also will add a point on your driving record and could increase your insurance rates. These types of citations do not result in a criminal charge on your record and come with no jail time. Minor traffic citations for speeding generally apply in cases where the driver is not speeding excessively, but rather exceeds the posted speed limit by five or ten miles per hour. Excessive speeding is handled a little differently.
Excessive speeding, generally characterized as driving at a speed greater than 100 miles per hour, can result in an infraction, punishable by a fine of up to $500 and the potential to have your license suspended for 30 days. A second offense within three years will result in a fine of up to $750 and a six-month license suspension. A third offense within five years will result in a one-year license suspension. With your second and third offense, you may be eligible to have a restricted license for employment purposes. Driving 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit on a freeway, or 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit in a road or highway is a punishable criminal offense. You may also face a reckless driving charge if you are found to be speeding excessively. To be convicted of reckless driving under California Vehicle Code § 23103(a), you must have been driving with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others. This could be executed at any speed, so long as it is done in reckless disregard. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor charge in California. Similarly, you could face a criminal charge for street racing or an exhibition of speed, both misdemeanor offenses. And, if you are facing DUI charges, you could face harsher penalties if you were also speeding excessively, characterized as 20-30 miles over the posted or prima facie speed limit, and driving recklessly at the time you got your DUI. This is what is called a sentencing enhancement, of which there are several for DUI cases. If you have an excessive speeding enhancement on your DUI charge, you will face an additional 60 days in jail, on top of your original sentence. As you can see, excessive speeding can result in many penalties, depending on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Speeding in excess of the speed limit could result in criminal charges, depending on the circumstances. If you are speeding to such an extent that it is reckless, or if you are speeding as a result of a race or exhibition of speed, you could be charged with a crime. If you are already facing a driving crime charge, you could face harsher penalties if you were also excessively speeding at the time. If you are facing a driving crime charge, consult with an experienced driving crime defense attorney. There must be proof you were excessively speeding or driving recklessly for you to be convicted. Without strong evidence, you could have a good defense in court. A skilled driving crime defense attorney will be able to assess your case and advise you on what you can be charged with and what, if any, defense you may have.
Are you facing criminal driving charges? Contact California attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team. Experienced in driving crime defense, our Visalia area legal team can ensure you have the best possible chance at preserving your driving privileges. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, attorney Martens will not be afraid to take your case all the way to trial to fight for your rights. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.