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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

8.3-7  Reckless Driving -- § 14-222

New, May 10, 2012

The defendant is charged [in count __] with reckless driving. The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows:

       No person shall recklessly operate any motor vehicle <insert as appropriate>:
  • upon any public highway of the state.

  • upon any road of a specially chartered municipal association or district, a purpose of which is the construction and maintenance of roads and sidewalks.

  • in any parking area for ten cars or more.

  • upon any private road on which a speed limit has been established.

  • upon any school property.

For you to find the defendant guilty of this charge, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements:

Element 1 - Operated a motor vehicle
The first element is that the defendant was operating a motor vehicle at the time and place alleged. “Motor vehicle” includes any vehicle used on a public highway.1

A person "operates" a motor vehicle within the meaning of the statute when, while in the vehicle, such person intentionally does any act or makes use of any mechanical or electrical agency that alone, or in sequence, will set in motion the motive power of the vehicle. A person acts "intentionally" with respect to conduct when (his/her) conscious objective is to engage in such conduct. <See Intent: General, Instruction 2.3-1>.

Element 2 - On certain roadways
The second element is that the defendant was operating the motor vehicle <Insert as appropriate>:

  • upon any public highway of the state. This includes any state or other public highway, road, street, avenue, alley, driveway, parkway or place, under the control of the state or any political subdivision of the state, opened to the public for travel or other use.2 

  • upon any road of a specially chartered municipal association or district, a purpose of which is the construction and maintenance of roads and sidewalks.3

  • in any parking area for ten cars or more. "Parking area" includes lots, areas or other accommodations for the parking of motor vehicles off the street or highway and open to public use with or without charge.4

  • upon any private road on which a speed limit has been established.5

  • any school property.

Element 3 - Recklessly
The third element is that the defendant was operating the motor vehicle recklessly. Operating recklessly, within the meaning of the statute, requires a conscious choice of a course of action either with knowledge of the serious danger to others involved in it or with knowledge of facts that would disclose this danger to a reasonable person. It is more than negligence or gross negligence. It is reckless indifference to the safety of others.The third element is that the defendant was operating the motor vehicle recklessly. Operating recklessly, within the meaning of the statute, requires a conscious choice of a course of action either with knowledge of the serious danger to others involved in it or with knowledge of facts that would disclose this danger to a reasonable person. It is more than negligence or gross negligence. It is reckless indifference to the safety of others.6

In determining whether the defendant was operating the motor vehicle recklessly, consider the width, traffic and use of such highway, road, school property or parking area, the intersection of streets and the weather conditions.

<Include if any of the four circumstances in the statute are alleged:> If you find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant <insert as appropriate:>

  • operated a motor vehicle at such a rate of speed as to endanger the life of any person other than the operator of such motor vehicle. 

  • operated on a downgrade portion of any highway any motor vehicle with a commercial registration with the clutch or gears disengaged,

  • knowingly operated a motor vehicle with defective mechanism,

  • operated a motor vehicle at a rate of speed greater than eighty-five miles per hour,

then you must find this element has been satisfied.

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant was operating a motor vehicle, 2) it was being operated on <insert type> of road, and 3) it was being operated recklessly.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of reckless driving, then you shall find the defendant guilty. On the other hand, if you unanimously find that the state has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements, you shall then find the defendant not guilty.

1 General Statutes § 14-212 (5).
2 General Statutes § 14-212 (1) adopts the definition of “highway” in General Statutes § 14-1 (39). “The plain meaning of the word ‘highway’ is ‘a main road or thoroughfare; hence, a road or way open to the use of the public.’” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Harrison, 30 Conn. App. 108, 118 (1993). Thus, "[t]he expression `private highway' is a misnomer and `public highway' is tautology." Stavola v. Palmer, 136 Conn. 670, 684 (1950). The dictionary definition of highway is “any road freely open to everyone; public road.”
3 Municipalities may charter municipal associations or special districts for various purposes, one of which is the construction and maintenance of roads and sidewalks. See General Statutes § 7-326.
4 General Statutes § 14-212 (6).
5 The speed limit on a private road is established pursuant to General Statutes § 14-218a.
6 Definition derived from State v. Edwards, 22 Conn. Sup. 391, 393-94 (1961), with some additional language from State v. Miller, 122 Conn. App. 631, 634 (2010); State v. Sandra O., 51 Conn. App. 463, 467 (1999).

Commentary

Whether the motor vehicle was being operating on a type of road listed in the statute is a question of fact. State v. Harrison, 30 Conn. App. 108, 119 (1993); see also State v. Taylor, 306 Conn. 426, 436 (2012) (finding sufficient evidence regarding the character of the street to permit the jury to find that it was a public highway).

Subsequent offenders
General Statutes § 14-222 (b) provides for an enhanced sentence if the defendant has previously been convicted of one or more violations of § 14-222. Pursuant to Practice Book § 36-14, the prior conviction must be charged in a Part B information so that the jury is unaware of the prior conviction during the trial on the current charge. If a guilty verdict is returned, the jury must then be instructed on the second part of the information. See Subsequent Offenders, Instruction 2.12-2.
 


 

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