The Differences Between Careless Driving and Reckless Driving in Florida
As a driver, you have the responsibility to drive courteously to prevent collisions with other drivers, pedestrians, and stationary objects. If you cause an accident because of your failure to uphold this responsibility, you can be found negligent and thus liable for the victim’s damages. If you are convicted of reckless driving, you can also face criminal penalties like fines and even jail time.
Careless driving is not the same as reckless driving. Careless driving is a less severe charge than reckless driving and unlike reckless driving, it does not carry criminal penalties.
Florida law defines careless driving as “any person operating a vehicle upon the streets or highways within the state shall drive the same 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.”
Careless driving is a moving violation. It is punishable by four points on the offender’s driver’s license and a fine of up to $500 and court costs if the individual is adjudicated guilty. An adjudication is a formal judgment on a legal case. With non-criminal cases, such as careless driving, it is used in place of the term “convicted.”
Drivers with points on their licenses can face increased automobile insurance costs. In some cases, a driver can reduce his or her points by taking a driver education course.
Reckless driving, on the other hand, is a criminal offense. It is defined as the act of driving a vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for other parties’ safety and the safety of personal property surrounding them.
A few examples of reckless driving include:
- Drag racing on the roadway;
- Failing to yield to pedestrians and others who have the right of way;
- Distracted driving;
- Drunk driving;
- Swerving through traffic in a dangerous manner; and
- Running red lights and stop signs without regard for others’ safety.
The penalties for an individual convicted of reckless driving for the first time include:
- Up to 90 days in jail; and
- A fine of up to $500.
For an individual’s second or subsequent reckless driving conviction, the penalties are steeper. He or she faces a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. If the individual caused another party’s severe injury or death, he or she faces a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
Work with an Experienced Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with careless driving, reckless driving, or any other traffic offense, you have the right to fight the ticket with the aid of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Never assume that a charge is too small to fight – our team of Miami criminal defense lawyers at Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC is here to help you develop the right legal defense strategy for your charge. Contact our firm today to schedule your initial consultation with us.