I would suggest that anyone facing a reckless driving charge hire an attorney at their earliest convenience when they receive it. Having an attorney on your first court date can often result in your first date being your only court date.

Choosing to appear on your own will often result in a continuance being issued for you to hire an attorney. If you’re looking to decrease the amount of times you have to return to a courthouse, hiring an attorney beforehand is going to significantly improve your chances of that.

That being said, even with an attorney, multiple court appearances are not out of the picture as oftentimes getting an amended charge, getting a reckless driving charge amended to something like a negligent driving, can require your attorney to take a continuance in order to talk to the supervising state’s attorney for that courthouse.

A lot of times these courts are very busy and those conversations cannot be had the day of. Usually, I would suggest people get an attorney for a charge like this because an attorney that you hire is more than likely going to have an established relationship with the state’s attorney office, any village prosecutors involved or even the judges that might be sitting in those rooms that day.

In Cook County particularly, the judges that handle these misdemeanor calls that have charges like reckless driving, DUI and aggravated speeding charges, are judges that have been handling those courthouses, in those courtrooms specifically, for years. If an attorney has been practicing in the area, doing this kind of work, they’re going to have knowledge of the tendencies of the judges in those rooms.

They’re going to have knowledge of the tendencies and policies of the state’s attorneys that are charged with prosecuting the reckless driving charge. They’re going to know about getting amended charges. They’re going to know when your license is going to be at risk and they’re going to know the best possible outcome for you and be able to guide you through the process of keeping this from being a conviction on your record and keeping it from being something that raises your insurance premiums.

I do strongly advise that people invest in an attorney when they’re facing these charges because I have seen it many times. Someone does not invest in that. They choose to go it alone, whether on a reckless driving charge or other serious traffic offense. They end up with a conviction on their record and five years down the road they realize how much money it is they still owe, the stuff they’re still paying on insurance, the jeopardy they’ve put their license in and sometimes their job, if their jobs require them to have clear records.

If you do take a reckless driving charge lightly and end up with a conviction on your record, that is a Class A criminal conviction on your record for the rest of your life. If you’re a young person, that is a Class A criminal conviction that you have to report when you apply to jobs, when you apply to colleges, when you apply for student loans. That can seriously impact your ability to get an education and get a career.

That goes for basically anybody that’s charged with something like this. I get clients that are not taking a level of aggravated speeding or reckless driving charge seriously until I explain to them that a criminal conviction is a criminal conviction. It does not matter if you got it for reckless driving or burglary.

You still have to report it when applying for a job. You have to explain it to someone who wants to give you an opportunity. That is why I suggest to people to invest in an attorney to represent them so that they don’t have to have those tough conversations down the road because a conviction is permanent.

What Will it Cost?

Assuming a reckless driving charge is done in two court dates, you can expect, I would not expect to pay less than $500 for an attorney. Really, really good attorneys will charge you more. Very egregious reckless driving charges will cost you more because the work put in to negotiate and advocate for you will be harder and an attorney will want to be paid for that.

Hourly rates for this kind of thing can range usually in the hundreds of dollars. Like I said, there are some folks that treat like a DUI so you’re looking at $3,000 to $5,000 in attorney fees. It really is remarkable the range of fees you’ll see if you call around to a couple different offices.

Related: Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident?