Vehicle Code 23105 VC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to drive recklessly and thereby cause an accident where a person is seriously injured. A serious injury includes such things as a loss of consciousness, a concussion, or a bone fracture.
The language of 23105 VC states that:
“(a) A person convicted of reckless driving…that proximately causes one or more of the injuries specified in subdivision (b) to a person other than the driver, [is guilty of a crime]
(b) This section applies to all of the following injuries:
- A loss of consciousness.
- A concussion.
- A bone fracture.
- A protracted loss or impairment of function of a bodily member or organ.
- A wound requiring extensive suturing…”
- putting on make-up while driving, hitting another car, and causing the other driver to break an arm.
- causing a pedestrian to suffer a concussion after hitting him when doing doughnuts in an icy parking lot.
- wounding a motorist after hitting his car when blowing a stop sign.
A defendant can contest a charge under this statute with a legal defense. Common defenses include:
- no reckless driving,
- no “certain injury,” and/or
This offense is a wobbler under California law. A prosecutor can charge a wobbler as either:
At most, the crime is punishable by custody in county jail for up to three years.
Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:
- 1. What is a crime under this statute?
- 2. Are there defenses to 23105 VC?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Are there immigration consequences?
- 5. Can a person get a conviction expunged?
- 6. Are there related offenses?
1. What is a crime under this statute?
A prosecutor must prove the following to convict a person of a crime:
- the defendant drove a vehicle recklessly, and
- when doing so, he caused a certain or specific injury to another person.1
Questions arise under this statute on the meaning of:
- reckless driving, and
- a “certain injury.”
1.1. Reckless driving
For purposes of VC 23105, “reckless driving” is defined as:
- intentionally driving with,
- wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.2
A person acts with “wanton disregard for safety” when:
- he is aware that his actions present a substantial and unjustiﬁable risk of harm, and
- he intentionally ignores that risk.3
Note that a driver does not have to intend to cause an injury to be guilty of this crime.4
Example: Michelle is putting on make-up while driving to work. She realizes that she is risking an accident, but she is late and does it anyway. She eventually hits another car and the other driver suffers a brain injury.
Here, Michelle is guilty under VC 23105. She knew she was creating a risk when driving and applying make-up, but she ignored it and did so anyway. She also caused an accident in which a driver suffered “a certain injury” necessitating guilt.
1.2. Certain injury
This statute specifically says that a “certain injury” includes any of the following:
- a loss of consciousness,
- a concussion,
- a bone fracture,
- a protracted loss or impairment of function of a bodily member or organ,
- a wound requiring extensive suturing,
- a serious disfigurement,
- a brain injury, and
2. Are there defenses to 23105 VC?
A defendant can beat a charge under these laws with a good legal defense.
Three common defenses are:
- no reckless driving,
- no certain injury, and/or
2.1. No reckless driving
A person is only guilty of this offense if he caused an injury while driving recklessly. Further, reckless driving has a specific meaning under these laws. This means it is a valid defense for an accused to show that he was not driving recklessly.
2.2. No certain injury
A driver violates this statute only if he:
- drives recklessly, and
- causes a specific injury listed in VC 23105b.
Therefore, it is always a defense for an accused to show that he did not cause one of these injuries.
A necessity defense is when an accused:
- tries to avoid guilt,
- by showing that he had a good reason to commit an offense.
In the context of VC 23105, a defendant can show that he committed the crime since he had no other choice. Perhaps, for example, there was an emergency making him drive recklessly.
3. What are the penalties?
A violation of these laws is a wobbler. This means a prosecutor can charge the crime as either:
- a misdemeanor, or
- a felony.
If a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by:
- custody in county jail for up to six months, and/or
- a maximum fine of $1,000.6
If a felony, the offense is punishable by:
- imprisonment in jail for up to three years, and/or
- a maximum fine of $10,000.7
4. Are there immigration consequences?
A conviction under this statute will not have any bad immigration consequences.
If convicted of a crime, sometimes a non-citizen can be:
An example is when a non-citizen gets convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.
VC 23105 convictions, however, do not produce either result.
5. Can a person get a conviction expunged?
A person can get a 23105 VC conviction expunged.
This is true provided that the defendant successfully completes:
- probation, or
- his jail term (whichever was imposed).
6. Are there related offenses?
There are three crimes related to reckless driving causing a specific serious injury. These are:
- reckless driving – VC 23103,
- reckless driving causing injury – VC 23104, and
- speed contests – VC 23109.
6.1. Reckless driving – VC 23103
Vehicle Code 23103 VC is the California statute that defines the offense of “reckless driving.” A person commits this crime if:
- the defendant drove a vehicle on a highway or in an off-street parking facility, and
- the defendant drove with wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
A person does not have to cause any injury to be convicted under this statute.
6.2. Reckless driving causing injury – VC 23104
Vehicle Code 23104 VC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to:
- drive recklessly, and
- cause an injury to another person when doing so.
Note that, unlike VC 23105, this statute does not define “injury.” This means a defendant can be guilty of causing any injury while driving recklessly.
6.3. Speed contests – VC 23109
California Vehicle Code 23109 VC makes it a crime to willfully participate in a speed contest.
A “speed contest” is when a person:
- races his vehicle,
- against another car or against a clock or other timing device.
Unlike VC 23105, a person does not have to cause any injury to be guilty under this statute.
For additional help…
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.
For information on reckless driving laws in Nevada or Colorado, please see our articles on:
- “Reckless Driving Laws in Nevada (NRS 484B.653),” and
- “Colorado Reckless Driving Laws (42-4-1401 CRS).”
- California Vehicle Code 23105a VC.
- CALCRIM No. 2200 – Reckless Driving. Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2017 edition).
- See same. See also People v. Schumacher (1961) 194 Cal.App.2d 335; People v. Young (1942) 20 Cal.2d 832; and, People v. Aznavoleh (2012) 210 Cal.App.4th 1181.
- See same.
- California Vehicle Code 23105b VC.
- California Vehicle Code 23105a VC.
- See same. See also California Penal Code 1170h.