In the state of Florida, reckless driving is a criminal offense defined in Florida Statute section 316.192. The relevant criminal law statute indicates that reckless driving includes driving any type of vehicle in “willful or wanton disregard” for safety.
Some behaviors, like fleeing from a law enforcement officer, are automatically considered to be reckless driving. In other circumstances, it is open to interpretation whether a motorist’s behavior crossed the line into reckless driving. If a prosecutor brings charges and a court determines a defendant’s behavior actually was reckless driving, the defendant may be convicted of a misdemeanor criminal offense.
Penalties for reckless driving can include up to 90 days imprisonment, and a fine between $25 and $500 for firsts-time offenders. A repeat offense can lead to up to six months incarceration and/or fines between $50 and $1,000 after conviction for the second reckless driving charge.
If a reckless driver causes an accident, reckless drivers will also face harsher penalties and may sometimes be charged with felony offenses. For example, when reckless driving causes serious bodily injury to another motorist, the careless driver could be charged with a third degree felony and face up to five years imprisonment.
While reckless driving is a separate offense from impaired driving, which is defined under Florida Statute 316.193, there are situations in which a prosecutor will agree to allow a defendant to plead down to reckless driving rather than facing DUI charges. The reckless driving statute makes clear that a motorist can be mandated to complete a DUI training program if the court has reasonable cause to believe the use of alcohol or drugs contributed to the reckless driving charge.
Because reckless driving is a crime, it becomes very important for motorists to have a lawyer representing them when facing accusations of driving recklessly. Contact a Florida defense attorney for help if you are charged with reckless driving.