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When Does Speeding Become a Crime?

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Speeding, or driving above the posted speed limit, is usually only associated with a traffic ticket. You pay the fine, attend traffic school, and move on. In some cases, however, speeding can be charged as a misdemeanor or even a felony offense. This blog will cover the circumstances in which speeding can become a crime, specifically in Maryland.

Interested in learning more about speeding tickets? Check out our blog: How Many Points for Exceeding the Speed Limit by 10 mph?

Maryland Reckless Driving Charges

According to Maryland Transportation Code § 21-901.1, reckless driving is defined as driving a vehicle “in wanton or willful disregard of the safety of persons or property” or “in a manner that indicates a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.” It also describes the offense of negligent driving, which is defined as driving a vehicle “in a careless or imprudent manner” that endangers persons or property.

Reckless driving does not have to involve speeding, but it often does. It is a somewhat broadly defined traffic violation, and that means it can be open to interpretation. It will be up to the prosecution to prove that the driver was acting carelessly, recklessly, or with disregard for the safety of others. Driving too fast for current road conditions or in excess of the posted speed limit may be considered examples of reckless or negligent driving.

If you are pulled over for speeding and the officer believes you were acting with an extreme disregard for the safety of others, you could face reckless driving charges. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in Maryland and is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 as well as 6 demerit points on one’s driving record. If you accumulate eight or more points within two years, your license will be suspended.

Fleeing or Eluding: Maryland Transportation Code § 21-904

Driving a few miles per hour above the posted speed limit might get you pulled over, but it probably won’t land you in jail. The same can’t be said if you’re accused of attempting to flee or evade a police officer.

Maryland Transportation Code § 21-904 prohibits drivers from attempting to flee or evade police. If a police officer has given a “visual or audible signal” to stop, you are required by law to stop as soon as it is safe to do so. Initiating a chase in a car or on foot is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. A second or subsequent offense may be punishable by 2 years in prison and a $1,000 fine.

When fleeing or evading police causes bodily injury to another, this is a felony punishable by 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Causing the death of another person in this manner is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Speeding-Related Vehicular Manslaughter

If a driver is speeding and causes an accident that claims the life of another person, this could be charged as vehicular manslaughter in Maryland. This felony traffic violation occurs when a driver causes another’s death due to gross negligence—an extreme and/or reckless disregard for human life. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, excessive speeding, racing, and police chases may provide grounds for vehicular manslaughter charges.

Vehicular manslaughter is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, and 12 points on your driving record, plus driver’s license suspension.

Contact a Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney

The consequences of a speeding ticket or speeding-related criminal charge are severe. If you were pulled over for speeding and are now facing misdemeanor or felony charges, it’s time to protect your interests. Exercise your right to remain silent and involve an attorney as soon as possible.

At Gracia & Mintz, we are committed to representing drivers across Maryland and Washington, D.C. who have found themselves facing speeding-related charges. Our founding attorneys are both former prosecutors, and one is also a former police officer. This type of experience gives us an immediate advantage in every case because we know how the other side thinks and acts. We leverage this experience to build more effective, aggressive defense strategies for our clients, helping them secure better results.

Call (301) 842-8584 or contact our Maryland criminal defense lawyers online to find out how Gracia & Mintz can help you.