In addition to driving under the influence, speeding, and all of the other specific driving violations that are commonly known throughout the state, there is a more elusive violation called reckless driving with which many Florida residents may not be familiar.
Under Florida law, reckless driving is defined as driving with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other people or property or fleeing from a law enforcement officer while in a motor vehicle. Because of the legal wording in the statute, it is understandable how most people wouldn't fully comprehend exactly what constitutes reckless behavior. So, to break down the language further:
- Willful – here means that the driver is acting intentionally and with purpose; and
- Wanton – here means that that the driver is acting recklessly in the face of likely danger, failing to exercise the ordinary care expected of a person that would protect against the danger
The language of this law means that the state must prove that the driver was driving in such a manner that was intentionally dangerous or there was a high likelihood that serious bodily injury or property damage could occur. Mere carelessness or ordinary negligence is not enough to constitute reckless driving. A few examples of what kind of driving behavior may qualify as reckless driving include excessive speeding, drag racing on a highway, and weaving in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed.
A reckless driving conviction carries a punishment of up to 90 days in jail and up to $500 in fines. A second conviction will pose a penalty of up to 6 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
Remember that in Florida, points are assessed against you for each driving violation on your record. Each infraction is worth a certain number of points, which can ultimately result in your driver's license being suspended by the state. Reckless driving is a violation worth 4 points, according to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. Your license can be suspended for 30 days upon earning 12 points within 12 months, 3 months for 18 points within 18 months, and up to 1 year for 36 points within a 36-month time period.
If the reckless driving resulted in damage to a person or another person's property, the crime would elevate to a first-degree misdemeanor. Even worse, if serious bodily injury results from the reckless driving, the offense would elevate to a third-degree felony.
How to Fight the Charge
Whether someone is operating a vehicle with willful and wanton disregard for people or property is a somewhat subjective concept. Because of this, the offense of reckless driving can be fought in court. An experienced criminal defense attorney can analyze the facts of your case and determine whether there are any pieces of evidence that can negate the idea of you driving in a manner that could cause harm to others.
The skilled West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys at Farkas & Crowley handle all sorts of driving offenses in Florida, including the offense of reckless driving. Call our office today to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney and get on the path to defending against the serious consequences associated with a reckless driving conviction.