You are prepared to try your client’s DUI case. You are looking forward to the trial because you’ve got a good case and you are confident of a not guilty verdict. Suddenly, the State offers a plea to dismiss the DUI if your client pleads guilty to Reckless Driving. What are the consequences of the plea? Here is most everything you need to know to advise your client.
Reckless Driving is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 365 days in jail and fine of $2,500 plus court costs.
If the Client pleads guilty to Reckless Driving on a plea where a DUI is dismissed, he/she will keep his/her license unless (1) Client has 2 or more other moving violation convictions within the last 12 months (supervision for speeding ticket does not count against the Client); or (2) Client is pleading guilty to, or is convicted of, aggravated Reckless Driving; or (3) if Client has 2 prior reckless driving convictions in the last 12 months.
I. Class A Misdemeanor
First, watch out for jail time. Reckless Driving is a Class A Misdemeanor. An open plea to reckless driving could result in your client spending 364 days in the county jail. Make sure the jail term is eliminated or mitigated in your plea negotiation.
II. Reckless Driving Statute
(a) A person commits reckless driving if he or she:
(1) drives any vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property; or
(2) knowingly drives a vehicle and uses an incline in a roadway, such as a railroad crossing, bridge approach, or hill, to cause the vehicle to become airborne.
(b) Every person convicted of reckless driving shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, except as provided under subsections (b-1), (c), and (d) of this Section.
(b-1) Except as provided in subsection (d), any person convicted of violating subsection (a), if the violation causes bodily harm to a child or a school crossing guard while the school crossing guard is performing his or her official duties, is guilty of a Class 4 felony.
(c) Every person convicted of committing a violation of subsection (a) shall be guilty of aggravated reckless driving if the violation results in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another. Except as provided in subsection (d) of this Section, aggravated reckless driving is a Class 4 felony.
(d) Any person convicted of violating subsection (a), if the violation causes great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to a child or a school crossing guard while the school crossing guard is performing his or her official duties, is guilty of aggravated reckless driving. Aggravated reckless driving under this subsection (d) is a Class 3 felony.
III. Court Supervision Not Available for DUI if Client Has Prior Reckless Driving
If the client pleads to Reckless Driving in a plea where the DUI is dismissed, the client forfeits his/her opportunity for court supervision in any subsequent DUI. Court supervision is not available on a DUI if the client has previously been convicted or has pleaded guilty to a Reckless Driving. The supervision statute provides this exception for people otherwise eligible:
[P]leaded guilty to or stipulated to the facts supporting a charge or a finding of guilty to a violation of Section 11-503 [reckless driving] of the Illinois Vehicle Code or a similar provision of a local ordinance or any similar law or ordinance of another state, and the plea or stipulation was the result of a plea agreement. 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1(d)(3).
Caveat: A client who was charged with Reckless Driving and proceeded to trial on a not guilty plea, and was then subsequently found guilty, remains eligible for court supervision for a subsequent DUI.
Practice Tip: If a driver proceeds to plead guilty to a reckless driving charge and the plea is not a result of a plea agreement, counsel for the defendant should draft a long-form order which memorializes that fact for the record.
Analysis: Counsel should advise client that, as a result of the negotiated plea in which client pleads to a reckless driving and receives court supervision, client will not be eligible for court supervision should he or she ever be charged with a subsequent DUI.
IV. Court Supervision Not Available for Reckless Driving if Client Has Prior DUI
Court supervision is not available, even if counsel gets their client’s DUI charge reduced to a reckless driving, where:
(1) the client has a prior DUI conviction, or (2) the client has a prior DUI court supervision. 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1(d)(1) and (d)(2).
V. Sentencing and Fines
Reckless Driving (Section 5/11-503(a)) is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by the following:
(1) Up to 364 days in jail;
(2) Up to $2,500 in fines. 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-55.
Aggravated Reckless Driving is a Class 4 felony punishable by the following:
(1) 1 to 3 years imprisonment;
(2) Up to $25,000 in fines 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-45
VI. Expungment and Sealing
Sentences of supervision for reckless driving under 625 ILCS 5/11-503 are eligible for expungment or sealing if the offense occurred before the age of 25 and the person has no other convictions for violating §11-501 (driving under the influence) or §11-503 (reckless driving). 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(b)(2)(B)(i-5). As long as there are no other convictions on the person’s record, the offense may be expunged after the person reaches the age of 25. Id.
If there are other convictions removing the person from expungment eligibility, that record may be sealed after the person reaches the age of 25. 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(c)(3)(D). The language drafted does not seem to impose any waiting period otherwise and just references the fact that the offense must have occurred before the age of 25 and is eligible for relief after a person reaches 25 years of age.
There are collateral consequences-separate from the criminal case-that counsel must be aware of when advising a client who is charged with Reckless Driving. These consequences are often initiated by the Secretary of State and involve a suspension or revocation of the client’s driving privileges. A license suspension or revocation can be more burdensome to the client than the imposition of the criminal penalty.
I. Discretionary License Suspension/Revocation for Moving Violations
Three or more convictions or guilty pleas regarding certain moving violations within a 12-month period may cause the Secretary of State to initiate a license suspension or revocation. 625 ILCS 5/6-206(a)(2); see also Ill. Admin. Code tit. 92, § 1040.30.
Counsel should know whether their client has been convicted or pleaded guilty to any other moving violations within the past 12 months. The client’s plea of guilty on the current reckless driving charge could be the client’s third conviction within the last 12 months, and thus initiate a license suspension.
II. Mandatory License Revocation for Reckless Driving
A person’s driver’s license shall be immediately revoked if the person was convicted of three or more reckless driving charges within a 12-month period. 625 ILCS 5/6-205(a)(6).
III. Administrative License Revocation for Aggravated Reckless Driving
The Secretary of State shall revoke a person’s driver’s license if it receives “sufficient evidence” from the State’s Attorney that the person has committed Aggravated Reckless Driving (pursuant to 625 ILCS 5/11-503(c)) and the offense involved a motor vehicle accident that caused great bodily harm or death.Ill. Admin. Code tit. 92, § 1040.35(b)(1)(E). “Sufficient evidence” may include charging documents, coroners’ reports, eyewitness statements, accident reports, or any other competent evidence. Ill. Admin. Code tit. 92, § 1040.35(b)(2).
The disposition of the Aggravated Reckless Driving charge will determine whether the administrative revocation will remain in effect as follows:
(1) If the person is adjudicated “guilty,” the revocation shall stand;
(2) If the person is adjudicated “not guilty,” the revocation shall be rescinded (canceled);
(3) If the person receives court supervision, the revocation shall be rescinded (canceled).
Ill. Admin. Code tit. 92, § 1040.35(b)(6),(7), and (8).
It is important that counsel know their client’s driving history and record of convictions when advising their client in the context of a reckless driving or aggravated reckless driving criminal charge, One of the most important facts to know is how many traffic violation convictions and how many reckless driving convictions the client has had within the past 12 months.