Under Florida reckless driving law, a person operating a vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or property can be convicted of reckless driving. Mere negligence is not sufficient to warrant a charge of reckless driving, the defendant must act with a willful or wanton disregard for safety. The law defines willful as an intentional, knowing, and purposeful act. Wanton carries a very similar definition, it is a conscious and intentional indifference to the consequences and with knowledge that damage is likely to be caused to people or property. See Florida v. DE.
Determining whether or not a driver engaged in reckless driving will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. If you have been accused of reckless driving in Florida you should meet with a criminal defense attorney in your area to discuss the specifics of your case. For instance, in Florida v. Graham, the defendant crossed the center line three times and was not found not guilty of reckless driving. The court’s reasoning was based on the fact that the defendant was not speeding and there was light traffic on the road at that time. Further, speeding will not necessarily result in a conviction of reckless driving. For example, in Florida v. Miller, the defendant was driving 55 miles per hour in a 35 mile per zone. However, the court found the defendant not guilty because the driver had control of the vehicle and decreased his speed as he approached an intersection.
Some acts by a driver will almost always be deemed reckless driving. For instance, fleeing law enforcement is per se reckless driving. The defendant does not need to be speeding or risk danger to others, simply fleeing law enforcement may be enough to warrant a conviction of reckless driving in Florida. Other examples of reckless driving include, making an abrupt U-turn and driving through a residential neighborhood at speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour. See Florida v. Orozco.
Florida DUI Charges Reduced to Reckless Driving:
Reckless driving is a serious offense that can result in significant consequences. However, the penalties for reckless driving are much less severe than a DUI conviction. Therefore, in many DUI cases the driver will enter into a plea deal with the prosecutor to reduce the DUI charges to reckless driving. Prosecutors are often more willing to enter into a plea deal if they know the DUI charges will be highly contested and they will have a difficult time proving the charges. This types of plea deal is not possible in all DUI cases, if you have been arrested for a DUI you should meet with a DUI attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.
For a defendant’s first reckless driving offense, the fine may be $25 – $500 and/or include imprisonment for up to 90 days. If it is the defendant’s 2nd offense, the fine can increase up to $1,000 and/ or include incarceration for up to 6 months. If the defendant’s reckless driving leads to property damage or injury the driver can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, which may include additional penalties. Moreover, if serious bodily injury is caused as a result of the reckless driving the defendant can be charged with a third degree felony. The penalties for reckless driving can have a significant impact; however, they are much less severe than the penalties for a DUI in Florida. Therefore, in some cases it will be very beneficial to the defendant to accept a plea deal of reckless driving in lieu of a DUI conviction.
Unlike a DUI conviction, a driver will not be required to purchase FR-44 insurance if convicted of reckless driving. FR-44 car insurance is frequently referred to as DUI insurance because it is required if convicted of DUI in Florida. In some cases, FR-44 insurance can more than triple the insurance premium you pay. Therefore, this is a significant benefit to agreeing to reckless driving in lieu of a DUI conviction.
This article is for general informational purposes only, it should not be relied on when deciding whether or not to accept a reckless driving conviction in lieu of DUI. If you have been arrested for DUI in Florida you should speak with a DUI defense lawyer before taking any action. To schedule a free consultation with a DUI defense lawyer in Tampa contact Florida Law Advisers at 800 990 7763. The DUI defense lawyers at our firm have years of experience representing drivers accused of DUI in the Tampa Bay area. Each DUI case is unique, we carefully develop a comprehensive legal strategy that is individualized for each client. We understand how stressful and intimidating a DUI arrest can be and will be by your side to provide legal advice and support every step of the way.