If you’ve been in Florida long enough, you’ve likely noticed that motorists in the Sunshine State aren’t exactly famous for driving carefully. On any given day, driving to or from work, you’ve probably been stuck in traffic for hours because, hey, it’s Tuesday, so of course there were a couple of car accidents. This is especially so if you have to get on I-4 or any of the bridges in Tampa Bay.
What happens when you’re the one who caused the accident? In addition to medical bills, costs to repair your car, and rising car insurance rates, could you be charged with criminal behavior? If this thought hadn’t crossed your mind before, allow us to enlighten you about reckless driving.
What Counts as Reckless Driving in Florida?
According to Florida law, reckless driving is defined as any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. As you can’t see, the statute does not clearly define what constitutes reckless driving, nor does it provide examples, other than fleeing from the police. If you do that, you are definitely driving recklessly.
That being said, people have been charged with reckless driving for some of the following actions:
– Driving significantly over the speed limit
– Tailgating the vehicle in front of you
– Failing to yield
– Slamming the brakes
– Making a sudden turn at a fast speed
– Weaving in and out of traffic at a fast speed
Any action that increases the likelihood of causing a car accident could be considered to be reckless driving.
What are the Penalties for Reckless Driving?
Any person convicted of reckless driving for the first time will be punished by 90 days in jail, a fine between $25 and $500, or both. If you happen to get convicted of it again, you’ll get to spend up to 6 months in jail, pay a fine between $50 and $1,000, or both.
If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the Court will order you to complete a DUI or substance abuse education program (that you’ll have to pay for yourself, out of pocket). If you fail to complete the program, your driver’s license will be suspended. And driving with a suspended license is also a crime, so don’t even go there.
Things get even more complicated if you injure someone else or cause damage to their property.
Is Reckless Driving a Misdemeanor or a Felony?
As with most legal questions, the answer is: it depends.
Injuring someone or causing damage to their property is considered to be a misdemeanor in the first degree. This means that you could face up to a full year in jail.
If you caused serious bodily injury, then it’s considered to be a felony in the third degree. This means that you could face up to five years in prison. For purposes of reckless driving, Florida law defines serious bodily injury as any injury to another person which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, or personal disfigurement, or impairment of any body part or organ.
If you’re facing a reckless driving charge, things can get ugly, fast. Therefore, it’s essential to speak with an experienced attorney as fast as possible.
Call Clark Law if You’ve Been in a Car Accident in Tampa Bay
If you were involved in a car accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients involved in motor vehicle accidents, and we can help you determine the best course of action.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.