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California Reckless Driving Law

The California Judicial Council's jury instruction defining what the prosecutor must prove to convict someone of reckless driving:

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

  1. The defendant drove a vehicle on a highway or in an off street parking facility;
    AND
  2. The defendant intentionally drove with wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

A person acts with wanton disregard for safety when (1) he or she is aware that his or her actions present a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm, and (2) he or she intentionally ignores that risk. The person does not, however, have to intend to cause damage.

If you conclude that the defendant drove faster than the legal speed limit, that fact by itself does not establish that the defendant drove with wanton disregard for safety. You may consider the defendant's speed, along with all the surrounding circumstances, in deciding whether the defendant drove with wanton disregard for safety.

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