Reckless Driving Charges in Florida

The Legal Definition for Reckless Driving in the State of Florida

Reckless Driving is defined by Florida Statute Section 316.192. The statute states that the crime of Reckless Driving requires two evidentiary components:

  1. The offender was driving a motorized vehicle, and

  2. The offender drove the motorized vehicle with a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of property or persons.

Wanton or Willful Conduct is Required

The legal term 'willful' means knowingly, purposely, and intentionally. 'Wanton' means that the offender operated the motor vehicle with an intentional indifference, fully aware and conscious of consequences, and with the understanding that damage would likely affect persons or property. 

The Penalties for Reckless Driving Charges in Florida

The punishments for a reckless driving conviction in Florida depends on the driver's prior offenses and if an injury to property or persons were involved.

  • First Offense Reckless Driving without bodily injury or property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida. The penalties include up to 90 days in jail or six months of probation, plus a $500 fine.

  • Second or Subsequent Reckless Driving is a second-degree misdemeanor. The penalties include a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Reckless Driving with Property Damage or Personal Injury is a first-degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in jail or 12 months of probation and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Reckless Driving with Serious Bodily Injury is a third-degree felony that is punished with up to five years in prison or five years probation, plus a $5,000 fine.

Possible Defenses to a Charge of Reckless Driving in Florida

The following are a few potential defenses to fight a Reckless Driving charge in the State of Florida:

  • The accused was not driving the vehicle. 
  • Mistaken identity.
  • The accused's actions were careless and didn't meet the legal standard for Reckless Driving. 
  • There were no people or property close enough to endanger.
  • The accused did not act intentionally. (For example, a mechanical problem.) 
  • Witnesses contradict the prosecution allegations.

Speeding By Itself Does Not Constitute Reckless Driving

In the State of Florida, excessive speeding by itself cannot bring a Reckless Driving conviction. This is a common citation that may be thrown out of court if properly defended. However, if the speed was deemed "grossly excessive," a Reckless Driving charge could stick and go to trial. Florida court cases have deemed driving around double the posted speed limit to be "grossly excessive."

Factors Combined With Speeding That Could Bring a Reckless Driving Charge in Florida 

If a driver is speeding while committing additional driving violations, the driver could be arrested and charged with Reckless Driving. The key determining factors are whether or not the driver was willfully or wantonly disregarding others' safety.  

These other factors could be: 

  • Ignoring traffic control devices.
  • Illegal passing.
  • Driving in the middle of the road.
  • Street Racing.
  • Not reducing speed before a collision.
  • Driving recklessly around pedestrians/children

How Does Reckless Driving Affect Your Florida Driver's License (Points)

In Florida, a Reckless Driving conviction will add four points to your driver's license. If a driver accrues twelve or more points within one year, the driver's license will be automatically suspended for a period of 30 days. Points are assessed on the date of the offense. If you receive an out-of-state traffic violation and you are found guilty, points will be added to your Florida license. In Florida, if a driver is convicted of three Reckless Driving offenses within a twelve-month period, the driver could permanently lose his or her driver's license. 

The Reasons Why You Need to Fight a Reckless Driving Charge

Reckless Driving charges on your criminal history are one of the most damaging driving offenses to one's reputation. Potential employers often see Reckless Driving charges as a snapshot of a person's judgment and character. Reckless Driving goes well beyond simple carelessness because the driver puts others at risk of injury or death. 

The aftermath of a Reckless Driving conviction is often felt life-long. For example, a driver with a Reckless Driving conviction will always pay a much higher premium for auto insurance. In some cases, the convicted will pay double or triple their previous rate. In other cases, the driver may find it difficult to find an insurance company that will insure them following a significant driving offense such as Reckless Driving. When the charges are severe (I.e., charges associated with injuries), an insurance company may cancel the driver's policy. 

When a driver is facing a charge of Reckless Driving, DUI, Hit-and-Run, or any other serious offense, it is necessary to rigorously defend oneself and avoid a permanent criminal record. A rigorous defense provided by an experienced Reckless Driving defense Lawyer in Florida can help you beat Reckless Driving charges!