What Is Reckless Driving in Florida?

A reckless driving charge in Florida can be tricky to navigate. The offense is serious, potentially leading to strict penalties and consequences if the accused is found guilty.

If you or someone you know is facing charges for a driving violation, you’ll need a strong case and legal support for a favorable verdict. The first step is understanding the case made against you. Here are things you need to know and consider when charged with reckless driving in Florida.

Reckless Driving in Florida Defined

According to the Florida statutes, a person driving a vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons and/or property is guilty of reckless driving. The same charge can also be made against a person who fled from a law enforcement officer in a motor vehicle.

Due to the special nature of this violation, reckless driving charges can vary greatly and there are many circumstances to consider. One of its key aspects is willful and wanton conduct, which refers to a driver’s intentional disregard for the consequences of their actions. Then again, proving wanton or willful conduct is challenging because it can easily be dismissed as negligence or carelessness by the driver.

Difference Between Reckless Driving vs. Careless Driving

Reckless driving and careless driving are both considered moving violations in Florida. However, their charges and penalties are different.

As we’ve established, reckless driving involves proving that the driver intentionally disregarded the safety of people and property. In contrast, careless driving entails proving that the driver made a mistake or had an unintentional slip-up.

On the surface, both are difficult to prove and differentiate, but the consequences of each differ widely.

Reckless Driving Penalties in Florida

If it’s the first time you’re charged with reckless driving in Florida, you’ll get a driving ticket.

Getting a reckless driving ticket in Florida adds 4 points to your driving record. This won’t cause you much damage unless you accrue 12 points within 12 months. If you do, you may be facing a reckless driving license suspension in Florida for up to 30 days.

The more points you accumulate over a certain period, the longer your driving license could be suspended.

But that’s only the consequence of getting a reckless driving ticket. There’s also the verdict to worry about. In Florida, getting a guilty conviction on three reckless driving charges in a single year could result in your license being revoked permanently.

First Offense Penalties

Being guilty of a reckless driving first offense in Florida could also result in a $500 fine, six months of probation, and up to 90 days in jail. It’s a second-degree misdemeanor often charged in cases without property damage or bodily injury. A second offense with a similar nature will attract a penalty of $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail.

However, a case of reckless driving with property damage in Florida or a hit-and-run can get you charged with a first-degree misdemeanor offense. If you’re found guilty, you may be liable for a $1,000 fine and a 1-year jail sentence.

For cases involving serious bodily injury, the guilty party could attract a fine of $5,000 along with five years in prison and five years probation.

Other Consequences of Reckless Driving Conviction

Apart from penalties and jail time, a conviction for reckless driving in Florida could also end up on your criminal record. This can seriously impact your ability to secure or maintain employment.

In repeat offenses or cases involving bodily injury, the court may mandate the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. This can be another cost you have to pay for on top of the penalties.

Another possibility is a driving while under the influence (DUI) charge. A DUI charge attracts more severe consequences than reckless driving.

Careless Driving Penalties in Florida

The charges for careless driving are much less serious than reckless driving. Most cases attract fines between $160 and $500 along with 4 points added to the driver’s license. This isn’t that different from reckless driving charges. However, you can often get your careless driving case dismissed after completing a traffic school course approved by the state of Florida.

What Should You Do if You’re Charged With Reckless Driving in Florida?

When charged with reckless driving, your first action should be to look for an attorney. While you can fight a reckless driving charge in Florida on your own, it’s wise to seek the help of an experienced professional. This is mainly because the punishment can be serious and there’s a lot of gray area to consider when building your defense.

Additionally, establishing your case and executing your defensive strategy can be difficult without the legal expertise of a lawyer.

Defense Strategies for Reckless Driving

After hiring a reckless driving lawyer in Florida, the next step to being absolved of a reckless driving charge is formulating the right defensive strategy.

Common Reckless Driving Charge Defenses

The most common defenses we’ve seen throughout the years raised the following questions:

  • Was the accused actually driving the vehicle?
  • Was the accused driving with willful and wanton disregard? Or was the accused merely careless and/or negligent?
  • Were there any persons or property nearby that could’ve been endangered?
  • Are there any witnesses that could contradict the charges/accusations?
  • Is the charge/accusation merely based on excessive speed?
  • Were there any extenuating circumstances at play?
  • Are the accusations/charges based solely on the police officer’s observations or are they supported by video?
  • Were the accused’s driving patterns intentional and purposeful?
  • Are the prosecution’s witnesses reliable?

An attorney will help you identify the best defense for your case and can get your charges reduced. They will also develop a DUI defense to protect your rights in case of a moving violation.

Hire a Florida Reckless Driving Lawyer Today

You can avoid a harsh penalty by contacting a reckless driving defense attorney in Florida as soon as you’re charged. This will give you the best chance of getting your charges reduced.

If you have questions, contact Metcalf Falls Criminal Defense Attorneys or call 813-258-4800 for a free consultation.