Florida Reckless Driving Law

Reckless Driving Florida

At some point or another, most people will go through the experience of getting pulled over for speeding. All of us have been late to work, a little too into our music, or maybe did not notice a poorly marked speed limit sign. Regardless of the reason, if you get caught and receive a ticket, you’ll have to pay a fine and receive points on your license.

But a reckless driving charge can be much more serious and come with potentially life-altering penalties. Many people who receive a reckless driving charge may be surprised, confused, or some combination of both. In many situations, people may think they were not guilty of more than going over the speed limit or driving carelessly.

If you or someone you know has been charged with careless driving, it is critical to fully understand what the law in Florida is. The following overview will give you a clear picture of the intent of this law — and how a lawyer can help if you have been charged.

What is reckless driving?

Florida Statutes Section 316.192 states that a person is guilty of reckless driving when they drive any vehicle with a willful or careless disregard for the safety of people or property.

This definition can be notoriously difficult to prove, but examples of what has been considered to be reckless driving by law enforcement include:

This law is intended to give harsher penalties for driving that shows the clear intention of wanton disregard for safety beyond careless or distracted driving. Because actual driver intent can be hard to prove, the burden of evidence for demonstrating recklessness is also high.

What are the penalties for reckless driving in Florida?

People who are convicted of reckless driving face substantial fines, as well as jail time. The specific amounts and timeframes will vary depending on whether you have a previous record of driving recklessly, as follows:

  • For a first conviction, the consequences include a fine of up to $500 and possible imprisonment of up to 90 days
  • For a subsequent conviction, the fine increases to up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail
  • If, in addition to driving recklessly, you caused serious bodily injury to someone else, it is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years imprisonment

Is reckless driving a felony?

Reckless driving is normally considered to be a misdemeanor, punishable as explained above. But the charge can become more severe if you cause serious bodily injury, and can result in a third-degree felony. For a person to be considered to have suffered a serious bodily injury, it must be a condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious disfigurement, or the impairment or loss of function of any bodily member or organ.

How long does reckless driving stay on your record in Florida?

This depends on the outcome of the court hearing. When a person faces a criminal conviction, the adjudication can be withheld. This means the judge orders probation without formally convicting the defendant. It’s usually granted to people who have no previous criminal record and those the judge believes are not likely to engage in criminal behavior again.

If the defendant completes probation successfully, the court will not assess points on their driving record and no conviction will show up on a background search. In contrast, if the defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony, the reckless driving conviction will remain on their record for life.

How a Lawyer Can Help Your Reckless Driving Case

Having the right attorney in your corner can make a big difference in a reckless driving case. The legal system in Florida is complicated, but know that being charged is not the same as being convicted.

Defense lawyers have extensive knowledge of your rights — and the many restrictions and rules that law enforcement is expected to follow. Examples that can potentially change the nature of a reckless driving charge can include:

  • Illegal or questionable traffic stops
  • Improperly marked signs or malfunctioning equipment
  • First-time offenses
  • Conflicting eyewitness testimony
  • Improper documentation of the arrest and charge
  • Mishandling of evidence

In a reckless driving defense case, you need a lawyer who will work tirelessly to protect your rights and ensure you are being treated fairly under the law. In certain situations, reckless driving can be negotiated to a less severe charge, or even dropped entirely.

Call Clark Hartpence Law If You’re Facing Reckless Driving Charges in Tampa Bay

If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident or is wondering about whether a ticket can be contested, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Hartpence Law, attorney Jeremy Clark was a public defender in the Sixth Judicial Circuit and has a deep understanding of the laws surrounding reckless driving charges in Florida. With his and the rest of our team’s substantial experience, we can respond to the arguments the state of Florida uses in these cases and achieve the best outcome for you.

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