Reckless driving in New York State is a serious offense and is defined in § 1212 of NY Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL). The law says that a driver can be guilty of reckless driving in one of two ways. The first way a driver can be charged with reckless driving is if he or she is driving in a way that “unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of a public highway.” The second way is if a driver is driving in a way that “unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.” However, the law only applies to a person who is driving something that is motorized, or as the law puts it “propelled by any power other than muscular power.” For example, this section of the law would not apply to a person riding a standard bicycle. But, it could apply to a person riding a bicycle that has a motor or has pedal assistance.
Reckless driving in NY is not a violation but a misdemeanor. A violation is not a criminal charge or offense and will not create a criminal record for a driver. But, a misdemeanor is a criminal charge or offense and will create a criminal record for a driver. Aside from consequences like jail time or paying money, a criminal record can also have an impact of immigration status, employment opportunity (e.g. via background checks), regulatory agency licenses and reputation, especially in the court of public opinion. Criminal records will follow you around for the rest of your life.
When charged with a criminal offense, a person has a right to free legal counsel. Also, before your constitutional right to liberty (freedom) can be taken away from you, you are entitled to a trial. Whether the trier of fact is the judge or a jury, the charge against a person must meet a burden of proof. The burden of proof must be met by the prosecutor and in criminal cases; the burden of proof is “beyond reasonable doubt.” What this means is that before the judge or jury can decided that a person is guilty of a criminal charge, the prosecutor must prove each and every element of the crime beyond reasonable doubt.