Car accidents are one of the leading causes of severe injuries and deaths in Alabama. The Alabama Department of Transportation reports that more than 46,000 people were injured in car crashes across the state in just one recent year, with 930 fatalities. In many cases, these injuries or deaths are caused by drivers acting recklessly. Reckless driving causes accidents and leads to severe injuries and financial losses.
Reckless driving is a crime in Alabama, but you could also file a civil action against a reckless driver if you were injured in a crash. The Alabama reckless driving accident lawyers at Stokes Stemle, LLC focus solely on personal injury claims, giving us in-depth knowledge and experience to help our clients recover as much compensation as possible. We will work with you to hold a reckless driver accountable as you seek compensation for your injuries.
What Is Considered Reckless Driving in Alabama?
Reckless driving is defined in Section 32-5A-190 of the Code of Alabama. Reckless driving is when someone drives in a way that willfully disregards the safety of other drivers, pedestrians, and anyone else on the road.
Reckless driving is an example of negligent driving, though the two are not necessarily the same. To be convicted of reckless driving, the authorities must show the driver’s actions went beyond being careless. It must be to the level of deliberate disregard for the safety of other drivers. For example, speeding is a form of negligence, but speeding is generally not considered reckless driving unless it’s over 25 mph above the speed limit.
The penalties for a first-time reckless driving offense are between five and 90 days in jail, a fine of $25 to $500, or both. The penalties for a second offense are between 10 days and six months in jail, a fine of $50 to $500, or both. A second conviction for reckless driving can also result in the suspension of the driver’s license for up to six months.
What Causes Reckless Driving?
There are a few factors that can make someone more prone to driving recklessly, such as the following:
- Impaired driving — Drivers impaired by alcohol, illegal drugs, or certain prescription medications may behave more recklessly. Drivers who are impaired are more likely to speed, take unnecessary risks, get angry at other drivers on the road, and engage in behaviors that put others at risk.
- Road rage — Drivers who let their emotions get the better of them are more likely to speed, make aggressive lane changes, take turns at high speeds, follow too closely behind other vehicles, stop suddenly, cut other drivers off, and put other drivers in harm’s way.
- Distracted driving — Taking your eyes, hands, or concentration off of the road in front of you is both dangerous and potentially reckless. Drivers who are more focused on talking on the phone or texting have increased reaction times, decreased situational awareness, and may just flat-out miss a hazard in the roadway. Other distractions that can cause reckless driving include adjusting the music, eating or drinking, and grooming.
- Driver fatigue — You would think that tired drivers would be less likely to be aggressive, but that’s not necessarily the case. Severely fatigued drivers have a more difficult time judging what’s happening around them. This can cause them to misjudge their speed and how close they are to other drivers. Fatigued drivers also have increased reaction times, making it harder to respond in an emergency. Finally, tired drivers may fall asleep behind the wheel, putting them in danger of colliding with other drivers or running off the road.
- Inexperience — Younger drivers often take risks that older drivers do not because they don’t know any better. This can lead them to drive recklessly, putting themselves and everyone around them in danger.
Examples of Reckless Driving
Reckless driving includes a wide range of actions, but some of the most common examples include the following:
- Excessive speeding (usually defined as speeding 26 mph or more over a posted speed limit)
- Driving too fast for road or weather conditions
- Weaving aggressively through traffic
- Road rage
- Following too closely
- Stopping suddenly in front of another vehicle
- Cutting off other drivers while passing or merging
- Taking turns at unsafe speeds
- Failing to yield the right-of-way
- Failing to stop at intersections
- Not signaling when turning
Aggressive Driving vs. Reckless Driving
While Alabama law prohibits reckless driving, no law defines “aggressive” driving. That said, there are other laws designed to curb aggressive driving behavior.
For example, in a recent year, Alabama implemented an “anti-road rage” law that bans drivers from traveling in the left-most lane for more than 1.5 miles unless they are passing another vehicle. This measure was designed to deter aggressive drivers from putting others in danger.
Talk to a Reckless Driving Accident Lawyer in Montgomery, AL Today
If you have been hurt in an accident with a reckless driver, the reckless driving attorneys at Stokes Stemle, LLC can help you seek compensation for your injuries. We can help you file a claim to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses resulting from the accident. To learn more, contact our office for a free initial consultation.