Driving without any regard of others by speeding, racing through lights, weaving lanes and other risky behaviors could lead to a criminal charge of reckless driving. A reckless driving charge could result in harsh penalties including hefty fines and even time in jail. If the event involved property damage or another person sustained serious bodily injury, then the penalties could be enhanced even more. With such serious consequences, it’s important you’re prepared for what’s next if you were charged with reckless driving.
If you or someone you know has been charged with reckless driving, it’s highly encouraged that you find and secure experienced legal representation immediately. The penalties for reckless driving are incredibly serious even outside of a criminal conviction such as higher insurance premiums and a possible license suspension or revocation. Because of this, it’s important you don’t attend court ill-equipped. Having a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side will give you a significant chance to fight these charges and avoid the penalties.
Reckless Driving Defense Attorney in Palm Beach County, FL
Were you arrested or recently cited for reckless driving recently? If so, then we highly suggest you get in contact with an experienced traffic offense attorney to battle these charges. A great option to go with is the lawyers at Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. The traffic ticket lawyers at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. have years of traffic and defense representation experience and are passionate about what we do.
Get in contact with us at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. by calling (561) 500-5000 where you can set up your first consultation free of charge. At the consultation we can discuss what your options are and defense avenues we can pursue to drop your charges. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents people throughout the greater St. Lucie County, Martin County, Broward County, Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade County area.
Overview of Driving Recklessly in Florida
- What Does Florida Constitute as Reckless Driving?
- Penalties for Reckless Driving in FL
- What’s a Wet Reckless in Florida?
- Additional Resources
What Does Florida Constitute as Reckless Driving?
Driving senselessly to the point you are endangering others is a traffic offense in Florida with serious penalties. The majority of driving recklessly offenses involve violating other traffic rules such as improper lane changes, speeding or tailgating. However, the actual definition for reckless driving can be found under Florida Statute Section 316.192.
In Florida, you can be charged for driving recklessly if you:
- Drive any vehicle in a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of people or property;
- Were attempting to flee from a law enforcement office in a vehicle; or
- Operated a vehicle and by such operation caused property damage or caused another person to sustain a serious bodily injury
To have a full understanding of reckless driving charges you need to also recognize some definitions related to reckless driving. Under Florida law, the term “willful” means to intentionally, knowingly or purposefully do an action. “Wanton” is defined as acting with a conscious and intentional indifference to consequences and with knowledge that damage is likely to be done to persons or property.
It’s obvious that both the terms above are subject to interpretation and nuance. Willful and wanton disregard of other’s safety and property may be defined differently based on the person. This means you could be charged with driving recklessly because of law enforcement’s subjective observations of your driving.
A “serious bodily injury” is an injury to another person which consists of a physical condition that has created a substantial risk of death, personal disfigurement or a protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
Penalties for Reckless Driving in Florida
The penalties for driving recklessly heavily rely on the circumstances of the case as well as your criminal history. A first conviction can result in imprisonment in jail for up to 90 days and a possible fine between $25 and $500. A second or subsequent conviction can lead up to 6 months in jail and a fine between $50 and $1,000.
When property damage is involved, then the charges will be reclassified to a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor is up to one year in jail as well as fine of up to $1,000. On the other hand, if the charge involved serious bodily injury of another person then you will face a third-degree felony. Consequences for a third-degree felony can lead to a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years and a fine of up to $5,000.
If the court has reasonable cause to believe that alcohol or controlled substances are the cause of the reckless driving, then you may be required to complete a DUI program substance abuse education course and evaluation within a reasonable period specified by the court.
Failing to sign up in time for the course and evaluation will result in the DUI program notify the court and transportation department. After receiving this information, the department will immediately cancel your driving privileges and won’t be reinstate until you have successfully signed up for the course and showed verification to the department.
What’s a Wet Reckless in Florida?
In most cases, you want to avoid reckless driving charges. However, if you’ve been charged with driving under the influence you may change your mind. A “wet reckless” is a colloquial term for a DUI charge that’s been reduced to reckless driving. When a prosecutor feels they may not have enough evidence to convict a person of DUI they may resort to reckless driving charges.
When you’ve been charged with DUI, the district attorney must handle the burden of proving to the jury that you did the following:
- Were in actual physical control of the vehicle; and
- Was under the influence of alcoholic beverage or a controlled substance that impaired your mental and physical faculties; or
- Have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 measured by chemical testing
These elements can be difficult to prove if there isn’t sufficient evidence. If the prosecution feels as if they don’t have enough evidence to prove these elements without a reasonable doubt to the jury, then they may not even bother with charging you with DUI. The prosecution may instead strike a deal with the defense to reduce the charge to reckless driving instead.
Although the goal is to face no charges, having your DUI reduced to a wet reckless can save you a lot of money and stress. Instead of being charged with a first-degree misdemeanor you will instead face a second-degree misdemeanor. You will likely still be required to complete a DUI program, but you won’t be required to install a portable alcohol monitoring device to your car or person plus you won’t be forced to complete community service.
Impact Teen Drivers – Visit the official website for the non-profit organization known as Impact Teen Drivers, which is dedicated to confronting the dangers and consequences related to distracted driving and reckless driving by teens. Access the site to learn more about the organization, research into teen driving statistics and resources that save lives.
Reckless Driving Laws— View the full text of the Florida state law for reckless driving. Subsection (5) covers offenses involving the use of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances. In such cases, the court is required to direct the convicted person to complete a DUI program substance abuse education course and evaluation.
Lawyer for Driving Reckless in West Palm Beach, FL
Were you arrested or cited for driving recklessly recently? Depending on the circumstances, you could face serious penalties for driving recklessly in Florida. To fight back, we suggest you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney about the details of your case immediately.
At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., our attorneys have been representing people charged with traffic crimes for years. We have a thorough understanding of vehicular laws and can structure an effective defense for you. Call us now at (561) 500-5000 to set up your first consultation in West Palm Beach area. We also defend clients from other surrounding areas including Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Stuart, Jupiter, and Wellington.