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What are the consequences of reckless driving?

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

According to Florida's reckless driving regulations, anyone who is charged with the offense and convicted on their first offense faces a sentence of no more than 90 days in jail, as well as a fine of at least $25 and no more than $500. After committing the first reckless driving crime, a person faces a maximum six-month jail term, a minimum fine of $50, and a maximum fine of $5,000.

To take it a step further, a careless driving charge is escalated to a first degree misdemeanor if it results in any kind of property harm to another person. The penalty will escalate to a third degree felony if the reckless driving results in any kind of serious injury to another person. A major injury is one that places a person at serious risk of dying, being severely disfigured, or losing any organ or physiological function. The offender will also receive a DUI and be required to complete a number of DUI and substance addiction programs as set down by the courts if these charges are brought when the driver is impaired by alcohol, narcotics, or any other form of illicit substance listed under the statute.

A person found guilty of reckless driving will face sanctions from their insurance company in addition to legal repercussions. Reckless driving convictions are taken very seriously by insurance providers, and it is nearly a guarantee that rates will increase. Following a reckless driving offense, it's not unusual to see your insurance prices increase by two or three times. Many insurance providers may even decide to cancel the coverage of a driver who has been found guilty of serious reckless driving.

Types Of Reckless Driving

The five most frequent forms of reckless driving are:

1. Distractions While Driving

Distracted driving is when one's attention is diverted from the road. Multitasking while driving is dangerous, and it only takes a split second for an accident to occur if the driver takes his or her eyes off the road.

  • Texting or Talking on a Cell Phone

  • Setting up your GPS

  • Adjusting Your Car's Controls or Music

  • Communicating with Your Passengers

  • Grooming or Makeup Application

2. Ignoring Traffic Regulations

All states have traffic laws that protect all motorists. Disobeying traffic regulations puts you and others in danger. Examples of traffic law violations include:

  • Infringing on Speed Limits

  • Not Coming to a Complete Halt at Stop Sign

  • Third Violation: Running Red Lights

3. Street Racing

Street racing, whether on private or public property, constitutes reckless driving. The majority of individuals, particularly the young, engage in street racing on public roads. However, they lose control rapidly, cause property damage, and even kill.

If caught engaging in street racing, you could face severe penalties including

  • Large fines

  • The law may impound your vehicle for 30 days or permanently crush it.

  • Your license revoked

  • For participation or spectating, an individual faces up to three months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

  • The car insurance premiums increased dramatically, or coverage was revoked.

You also get heavy repercussions for aiding and abetting street racing as a spectator.

4. Aggressive Driving

Driving aggressively is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Aggressive driving with the intent to cause harm is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

Aggressive driving is driving that intentionally places other people and their property in danger. Aggressive driving can range from risky conduct to activities that result in physical altercations. Such conduct includes:

  • Tailgating

  • Speeding

  • Dangerously swerving between lanes

  • Utilizing the shoulder to pass

  • Obstructing traffic

  • Shouting, honking, flashing inappropriate gestures, and flashing headlights are disruptive behaviors.

    • Displaying a weapon

    • Collision with another vehicle

    • Evasion of law enforcement

    • Refusal to yield

5. Speeding

When you exceed the recommended speed limit, you endanger yourself and others on the road. Accidents are caused by the lengthened reaction time and increased effort required to slam on the brakes when speeding.

Factors Of Reckless Driving

When determining what constitutes reckless driving, courts evaluate a variety of factors. These include the time of day, the weather, the presence of other people or animals, the quality of the vehicle, and the driver's familiarity with the area, amongst others.

  • Beyond negligence: Being negligent or making a mistake while driving does not constitute reckless driving. A driver must act deliberately and with deliberate disregard for safety. However, a prosecutor is not required to demonstrate the mental state of the driver at the time. It is sufficient for the prosecution to demonstrate that the driver either knew or should have known that the driving was unsafe due to the surrounding circumstances.

  • Safety risk: A prosecutor is not required to prove that other people were actually placed in danger as a result of a defendant's reckless driving, despite the fact that reckless driving necessarily poses a greater risk of harm to others. Even if nobody else is on the road and no property is damaged, reckless driving can still occur. To qualify as reckless drivers, drivers need only endanger their own lives or risk damaging their own property.

  • "Per Se" reckless: Some state statutes list specific driving conditions that automatically constitute reckless driving. These are referred to as per se conditions. This simply means that a driver committed reckless driving if the prosecutor can demonstrate that even one of the specified conditions was met. Common per se factors include exceeding the posted speed limit by 20 mph or more, passing a school bus, passing at a railroad crossing, or engaging in a street race.

Consult An Attorney

The defense of a reckless driving charge should be entrusted to skilled professionals. Your chances of getting your charges dropped or receiving a sentence that is not too severe are best served by a lawyer who is familiar with the legal system.

With the completion of a driver improvement course, a good reckless driving attorney may be able to have the charges downgraded to a routine speeding ticket, which may be paid along with court fees, or perhaps dismissed entirely from your permanent record. Often, having an attorney present and putting on a professional appearance is half the battle.

The ideal lawyer will use the case's specifics to build the strongest argument in favor of a successful resolution. Please get in contact with the Arroyo Law Firm right away or call us at 407-770-9000 to set up a consultation.

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