While many people use reckless driving and careless driving interchangeably, the truth is that the two violations are actually two separate, distinct offenses. Florida Statute § 316.1925 defines careless driving as failure to drive “in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person,” while aggressive careless driving is defined under Florida Statute § 316.1923 as committing two or more of the following acts simultaneously or in succession: Exceeding the posted speed; Unsafely or improperly changing lanes; Following another vehicle too closely; Failing to yield the right-of-way; Improperly passing; and Violating traffic control and signal devices.
Careless driving and aggressive careless driving are moving violations, but reckless driving is a criminal offense that can carry punishments that are much more serious. In certain cases, reckless driving may result in felony charges punishable by lengthy prison sentences and enormous fines.
Were you recently cited or arrested for reckless driving in South Florida? You will want to contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A. as soon as possible for help achieving the most favorable outcome to your case.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell represent clients accused of all kinds of traffic offenses in communities all over Broward County, including Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Plantation, and many others. You can have our lawyers provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (954) 716-8538 to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.
In order for a prosecutor to convict an alleged offender of reckless driving under Florida Statute § 316.192(1), he or she must prove either of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
“Willful” is defined as meaning “intentionally, knowingly and purposely.” “Wanton” means “with a conscious and intentional indifference to consequences and with knowledge that damage is likely to be done to persons or property.”
Depending on the nature of the alleged offenses, people can also be charged with reckless driving causing injury, reckless driving causing serious bodily injury, or reckless driving causing property damage. Florida Statute § 316.192(3)(c)2 defines serious bodily injury as “an injury to another person which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”
Florida Statute § 316.192(2) establishes that a first conviction for reckless driving not involving property damage or personal injury is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. Any second or subsequent convictions for reckless driving not involving property damage or personal injury are punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
If an alleged reckless driving offense does involve damage to the property or person of another, it is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Reckless driving offenses resulting in serious bodily injury are third-degree felony offenses punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Berube v. State, 6 So. 3d 624 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008) — Mark Berube was driving a minivan being followed by a dump truck when he stopped suddenly. Berube’s wife, three children, and sister-in-law all “panicked and screamed as the dump truck bore down on them from behind,” leading to Berube executing a left turn across the opposite lanes of traffic and colliding with a vehicle and killing its driver. The defense moved for a judgment of acquittal, contending that the State's evidence was insufficient to prove that Berube had operated a motor vehicle in a reckless manner likely to cause death or great bodily harm sufficient to support a charge of vehicular homicide, but the court denied the motion, stating that the evidence showed that Berube had violated the red turn signal and the jury would make a determination whether his act demonstrated a willful, wanton, or reckless disregard. On Feburyary 8, 2008, the Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed Berube’s conviction and directed that he be discharged after concluding that the State’s evidence was missing proof of “evidence that Berube, in an intentional, knowing, and purposeful manner, made an improper left turn with a conscious and intentional indifference to consequences and with knowledge that damage is likely to be done to persons or property.”
Luzardo v. State, 147 So. 3d 1083, 1088 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014) — The Florida Highway Patrol initially attributed a fatal May 8, 2011 accident to a tourist from the United Kingdom and charged her non-criminally with violating Luis Luzardo's right of way by turning left in front of oncoming traffic. More than one year later, the State changed its mind, claiming "newly discovered evidence," dismissing the non-criminal violation against the tourist, and charging Luzardo with "feloniously operat[ing] a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, to wit: SPEEDING WITHOUT REGARD FOR THE SAFETY OF OTHERS." On October 1, 2014, the Third District Court of Appeal reversed Luzardo’s conviction for vehicular homicide after concluding that his operation of his motor vehicle “may have been careless, even negligent,” but “did not meet the level of recklessness required to convict him” of the crime. “We decline to rest our decision on the "excessive speed alone ..." jingle,” the Court wrote. “If Luzardo had been traveling at a speed of 120 miles per hour at the time of the accident, our decision might be different.”
If you were arrested or cited for reckless driving anywhere in Broward County, it will be in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. defends individuals in Weston, Coconut Creek, Tamarac, Sunrise, Hallandale Beach, Deerfield Beach, Margate, Wilton Manors, and many other surrounding areas of South Florida.
Lawrence Meltzer and Steven Bell are experienced criminal defense lawyers in Fort Lauderdale who can fight to possibly have your criminal charges minimized or possibly even eliminated. Call (954) 716-8538 or complete an online contact form to have our attorneys review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.
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