It’s no secret that Florida drivers aren’t the most careful in the nation. In fact, the Sunshine State leads the country in car accidents. Yet, when legal terms get thrown around, people often rely on lore or what they see on TV. Neither of which are necessarily helpful when you’re the one facing charges. So, what does reckless driving entail in Florida, and what are the consequences for doing so?
What is Considered Reckless Driving?
Florida law defines reckless driving as willful or wanton disregard for the safety of people or property. This is a vague explanation that could lend itself to various interpretations.
Reckless Driving Examples
Examples of what has constituted reckless driving in the past include;
- Driving substantially above the speed limit
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving at excess speed while not leaving a reasonable distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you.
In addition, the statute expressly states that anyone who is fleeing law enforcement is committing reckless driving.
Reckless Driving Penalties
As with most legal questions, the answer is: It depends.
If you’re convicted for the first time, you’ll face up to 90 days of imprisonment or a fine of up to $500, or both.
If you’re convicted a second time or more, you’ll face up to six months in jail, a fine up to $1,000, or both.
The penalties mentioned above apply if you’re only charged with driving recklessly. If you cause damage to property or to a person, it’s considered a misdemeanor in the first degree. Punishment for this type of crime is up to a year of imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000.
Is Reckless Driving a Felony?
If the accident results in serious bodily injury to a person, it’s considered a felony in the third degree, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Serious bodily injury is defined as a physical 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 a Reckless Driving Charge Stay on Your Record?
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 whom the Court believes are not likely to engage in criminal behavior again. If the defendant completes probation successfully, they will not assess points on their driving record, and no conviction will show up on a background search.
On the other hand, if the defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony, the reckless driving conviction will remain on their record for life.
Call Clark Law If You’ve Been in a Car Accident in Tampa Bay
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, and we can help you determine the best next step.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.