Reckless Driving in Florida – Attorney’s Guide
Under Section 316.192, Florida Statutes, Reckless Driving is committed when you drive a vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property—in other words, acting with intentional indifference for the safety of persons or property when the driver knows his or her conduct is likely to cause damage or injury. Fleeing a Law Enforcement Officer is automatically considered to be reckless driving.
Penalties for Reckless Driving in Florida
The penalties for Reckless Driving depend on whether you have a prior conviction for the same offense and whether your driving caused damage or injury. The following is a breakdown of the penalties:
|Type of Offense
||Up to 90 days of jail or 6 months of probation, and a fine ranging from $25 to $500
|Second or Subsequent Offense
||Up to 6 months of jail or probation, and a fine ranging from $50 to $1,000
|Causing Damage to Persons or Property
||Up to 1 year of jail or probation, and a $1,000 fine
|Causing Serious Bodily Injury
||Up to 5 years of prison or probation, and a $5,000 fine
How to Fight a Charge of Reckless Driving in Florida
Being charged with reckless driving in Florida is a serious matter. However, there are several defenses that can be employed to fight these charges. Here are some of the strategies we can use to challenge the State’s case or prove your innocence:
- Motion to Suppress Evidence: If evidence was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights, a motion to suppress can be filed. This can result in the evidence being excluded from the case, weakening the prosecution’s position. For example, if the traffic stop that led to your arrest was unlawful, any evidence gathered during that stop could be deemed inadmissible in court.
- Insufficient Evidence: The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving recklessly. If there is insufficient evidence to support this, the charges may be dismissed. This could involve challenging the credibility of witnesses or the accuracy of any video footage or photographs used by the prosecution.
- Alibi: If you can prove that you were not at the scene of the alleged reckless driving incident, this can be a strong defense. This would require evidence that places you elsewhere at the time of the alleged offense.
- Speed Alone is Insufficient: Merely driving fast does not constitute reckless driving. The prosecution must prove that your driving posed a significant risk to others. If you were merely speeding, this might not meet the legal definition of reckless driving.
- Careless Driving or Negligence is Insufficient: There is a significant difference between reckless driving and negligent or careless driving. The latter does not involve the same level of intent and is therefore not as serious a charge. If your behavior can be classified as careless rather than reckless, your charges could be reduced.
- Emergency Doctrine: If you were responding to an emergency situation at the time of the alleged reckless driving, this could be used as a defense. The court may consider whether a reasonable person in the same situation would have responded similarly.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the difference between reckless driving and DUI in Florida?
While both reckless driving and DUI (Driving Under the Influence) are serious traffic offenses in Florida, they are distinct in nature. DUI specifically involves operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, while reckless driving involves any driving behavior that demonstrates a willful disregard for safety. Penalties for DUI are typically more severe than those for reckless driving.
2. Can a reckless driving charge affect my insurance rates in Florida?
Yes, a reckless driving charge can significantly impact your insurance rates in Florida. If convicted, this offense is likely to be viewed as a high-risk behavior by insurance companies, potentially leading to increased premiums.
3. Can a reckless driving charge be expunged in Florida?
In Florida, a reckless driving charge can potentially be expunged, but it depends on several factors, including whether you were adjudicated guilty and whether you have any other criminal history. It’s best to consult with an attorney to understand your options.
4. What is the process after being charged with reckless driving in Florida?
After being charged with reckless driving, you will typically be given a citation or arrested, depending on the severity of the incident. You will then have a court date where you can plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you plead not guilty, your case will proceed to trial unless a plea deal is reached beforehand.
5. How can a lawyer help with a reckless driving charge in Florida?
A lawyer can provide invaluable assistance when facing a reckless driving charge. They can help you understand your rights, represent you in court, negotiate with the prosecution, and develop a defense strategy. An experienced lawyer can potentially get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
CONTACT US NOW TO FIGHT YOUR CRIMINAL CASE
Defense lawyers are aware that the law enforcement officers will often charge motorists for reckless driving because of a personal belief or as a justification to detain someone else for a suspect crime. But, in order to get convictions, the state must establish that the driver’s actions risked the body, limb, or property of another. The absence of evidence is usually an effective defense in Florida negligent driving cases.
Contact the experienced Central Florida criminal defense lawyers at Leppard Law: Florida DUI Lawyers & Criminal Defense Attorneys PLLC by dialing (407) 476-4111, or fill out our contact form on our site.