Operation In Willful Or Wanton Disregard Of Safety

Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.20 prohibits the operation of a vehicle on any street or highway in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property. This prohibition is extended under Section 4511.201 to the operation of a vehicle on any public or private property other than streets or highways. However, the owner of such other public or private property may consent to competitive operation of vehicles thereon.

“Willful misconduct” is an intentional deviation from a clear duty or from a definite rule of conduct, a deliberate purpose not to discharge some duty necessary for safety, or purposefully doing wrongful acts with knowledge or appreciation of the likelihood of resulting injury.

“Wanton misconduct” is a failure to use any care and an indifference to the consequences, when the probability that harm would result from such failure is great, and such probability is known to the defendant. In contrast to negligence — where a person exercises some care in a deficient manner, wanton misconduct is the failure to exercise any care.

Penalty For Operating A Vehicle In Willful Or Wanton Disregard For Safety

Operating a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property ordinarily is a minor misdemeanor. The potential penalty for a minor misdemeanor traffic offense includes the imposition of a fine of up to $150, up to 30 hours of community service and court costs.

But if, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, then operating a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property is elevated to a fourth-degree misdemeanor. The potential penalty for a fourth-degree misdemeanor traffic infraction includes the imposition of a jail term of not more than 30 days, an additional or alternative community control sanction plus reimbursement for the cost of this sanction, a fine of up to $250 and court costs.

And if, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, then operating a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property is elevated to a third-degree misdemeanor. The penalty for a third-degree misdemeanor traffic infraction includes the potential imposition of a jail term of not more than 60 days, an additional or alternative community control sanction plus reimbursement for the cost of this sanction, a fine of up to $500 and court costs.

Community control sanctions generally can include residential placement, house arrest, drug/alcohol testing and treatment, specified education and training, community service, curfew, probation, etc. Under certain circumstances, the court also may order an offender to pay restitution to any identifiable victim who incurred an economic loss as a result of the violation.

Points Assessed For Operating A Vehicle In Willful Or Wanton Disregard

A conviction on a traffic ticket for operating a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property in violation of Section 4511.20 carries 4 points in Ohio on an offender’s driving record. A conviction on a traffic ticket for operating a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property in violation of Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.201 carries 2 points in Ohio on an offender’s driving record.

For more information on how the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) processes points for moving violations and the substantial penalty for excessive points accumulation, press Ohio BMV Points System.

Contact Us To Speak With An Attorney

Frequently a lawyer can appear in court and resolve a traffic case in the client’s absence, provided both the court and the prosecutor agree. This saves the client the aggravation of taking time off from work, fighting traffic to get to court on time, waiting for potentially hours for the case to be called, standing in long lines and potentially having to do it all over again if the case is continued.

If you are seeking a traffic lawyer, contact us at 614.695.5000 or online. We offer legal representation to drivers charged with traffic tickets in the Columbus metropolitan area.

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