Careless Driving vs Reckless Driving in Florida

Careless Driving vs Reckless Driving in Florida

Just like anywhere, traffic laws in Florida exist to keep everyone safe while driving. With busier and busier streets and more people in a hurry to get where they need to go, accidents are often unavoidable. In other cases, an accident is the result of one or more drivers operating their vehicles in a careless or reckless fashion.

Additionally, police officers will regularly stop and cite motorists engaging in reckless or careless driving in order to prevent accidents.

If there is an accident and a police investigation of the accident finds potential evidence that either careless and/or reckless driving caused the collision, it may result in one of these charges. Depending on the nature of the accident or traffic stop and other factors, there can be a significant difference between penalties for reckless driving and careless driving under Florida law.

If you have been in an accident in Florida or received a citation or charge from a traffic stop, you may have questions about the difference between careless driving and reckless driving. The following helpful overview will give you a clear picture of what the law says surrounding both charges. You can also learn how a qualified attorney can help you regarding these charges.

What is careless driving in Florida?

Under Florida Statute 316.1925, Florida law defines careless driving as operating the vehicle in a way that is not careful or prudent about traffic conditions. This type of driving does not regard the circumstances of traffic and can potentially endanger other people. The statute defines careless driving as being punishable by a moving violation.

Additionally, Florida defines statute 316.1923 as aggressive careless driving. To receive this violation, a driver must commit at least two of the following:

What is reckless driving in Florida?

Florida Statute 316.192 defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle with wanton and willful disregard of people and property on the road. This includes acts like fleeing a police officer, driving at excessive speed, or driving too close to the person in front of you at excessive speed, along with other unsafe driving acts.

Penalties for reckless driving can include a fine of up to $500 and the possibility of imprisonment for up to 90 days. With a second or subsequent offense, the possible fine increases up to $1,000, and jail time increases up to six months. The severity of the penalties can depend on whether there was an accident, the extent of property damage, and whether or not anyone was injured.

Understanding the Differences and How It Can Affect Penalties

The primary difference between careless driving and reckless driving is intent. As the law states, reckless driving is the willful disregard for safety, while careless driving is incidental disregard. To prove reckless driving in court, there needs to be proof that the driver was driving recklessly on purpose and knowingly putting people at risk.

Often, many of the actual driving behaviors can be very similar, particularly with an aggressive careless driving charge. This can make a reckless driving charge difficult to prove in many cases. Reckless driving can be reduced to careless driving if there is insufficient proof of wanton and/or willful disregard.

The main difference from a penalty standpoint is that reckless driving is a criminal charge, while careless driving is a noncriminal charge. Factors including property damage, injury, previous record, and involvement of alcohol or drugs can make a big difference in the specific penalties for both charges.

How an Attorney Can Help Your Careless or Reckless Driving Case

Having a qualified and experienced attorney on your side can have a significant impact on the outcome of your careless or reckless driving case. The legal system is complex. If you’ve been charged, it does not mean you have been convicted.

Defense attorneys will have deep knowledge of your rights under the law and the restrictions and steps that law enforcement must follow. Examples that could change the nature of a charge include an illegal or questionable traffic stop and first-time offenses. In any careless or reckless driving defense case, your lawyer should be working hard to ensure your rights are fully protected so you can receive the best possible outcome.

At Clark Hartpence Law, attorney Jeremy Clark was a public defender in the Sixth Judicial Circuit and fully understands the laws surrounding reckless driving, careless driving and aggressive careless driving charges. With his and our team’s comprehensive experience, we can respond effectively to the arguments the state of Florida typically uses in these cases and work for the best result for you.

Contact us today at (855) 680-4911 for your free consultation. We’ll work hard to minimize the penalties of your Florida reckless or careless driving charge.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.