Automobiles help people move from one place to another, but you can’t deny that they’re also dangerous to operate. Car accidents can lead to severe injuries and death to drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Because lives are on the line, all states have strict laws on proper driving behavior.
In Florida, law enforcement can charge anyone who drives without a thought for safety with reckless driving – a criminal charge that carries fines and jail time. But you might ask: What sort of driving actions count as reckless driving?
Reckless driving defined
According to Florida law, “reckless driving” refers to instances where the driver willfully or wantonly disregards the safety of people and property. This is a broad definition, but specific rash driver actions are at once recognizable as reckless driving. These actions include (but aren’t limited to):
- Going over speed limits
- Ignoring traffic lights and signs
- Street racing
- Stunt driving
- Weaving in and out of traffic
In addition, trying to evade police officers in a vehicle also counts as reckless driving.
A driver convicted of reckless driving in Florida will be punished based on the number of earlier convictions they’ve had:
- First conviction: Jail time of up to 90 days, and a fine between $25 and $500
- Second and later convictions: Jail time of up to six months and a fine between $50 and $1,000
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will also order the driver to take a four-hour driver improvement course. Failure to complete the course within 90 days will result in the suspension of the driver’s license.
In addition to these penalties, a driver may face added charges if:
- Their driving causes property damage or injuries: Authorities will charge the driver with a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries penalties of up to $1,000 in fines and up to a year in prison.
- Their driving causes serious injuries, impairment, or death: Authorities will charge the driver with a third-degree felony, which has up to $5,000 in fines and a maximum prison sentence of five years.
Reckless driving is a broad term that can apply to many driver actions, and it’s a criminal charge that costs much money to pay for – on top of the jail time you’ll have to serve. Hiring an attorney with traffic law experience might be a smart move if you face reckless driving charges. A legal professional would be able to challenge a reckless driving charge in court and help you consider your defense options.