What Defenses Can Be Raised for Reckless Driving?
By Jonathan Blecher on April 29, 2022
Reckless driving in Florida carries serious penalties. Depending on the facts, the offense can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, with punishments including incarceration and/or fines. If you’re convicted, you will also have a mark on your criminal record, which can show up on background checks for employment, housing, or other opportunities.
But being charged with reckless driving doesn’t mean the penalties and consequences listed above are a certainty. To obtain a conviction, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the alleged offense. Your criminal defense attorney can raise counterarguments to weaken the prosecutor’s case and cast doubt in the minds of a judge or jury.
For help fighting your reckless driving charge in Miami, contact my firm at (305) 321-3237.
What’s Considered Reckless Driving in Florida?
The elements of reckless driving are enumerated in Florida Statutes § 316.192. A person may have violated the law if they operated a vehicle with a “willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
To do something willfully means to act with intention, knowledge, and purpose. To show a “wanton disregard” means to recognize the consequences of one’s actions but engage in them anyway.
For instance, you may be said to have driven recklessly if you were speeding down the highway to impress someone else. You acted willfully because you intended to speed to demonstrate your vehicle’s capabilities. You acted with wanton disregard because you were likely aware that driving at high rates of speed increases the chances of getting into an accident that could result in bodily injury or property damage.
What Are the Penalties for Reckless Driving?
The potential penalties imposed for a reckless driving conviction depend on your criminal history and the results of the conduct.
Punishments can include:
- First offense:
- Up to 90 days of incarceration and/or
- Between $250 and $500 in fines
- Second or subsequent offense:
- Up to 6 months of incarceration and/or
- Between $50 and $1,000 in fines
- Reckless driving causing property damage (first-degree misdemeanor):
- Up to 1 year of incarceration and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Reckless driving causing bodily injury (third-degree felony):
- Up to 5 years in prison and/or
- Up to $5,000 in fines
What Are Possible Defenses Against Reckless Driving?
For the prosecutor to prove that you were reckless driving, they must show that you acted willfully and in wanton disregard for the safety of others and property. After carefully reviewing and analyzing the facts of the case, defense counsel can identify weaknesses in the prosecutor’s arguments and demonstrate that the alleged actions did not violate the law.
Depending on the situation, defenses that could be raised in a reckless driving case include, but are not limited to:
- Subjective view of the incident. A law enforcement officer might allege that you were driving recklessly based on their observations of the incident. However, what they saw could be subjective, and they might have misinterpreted the conduct to fit the definition of reckless driving.
- The defendant did not act purposefully. Your driving behaviors might have suggested reckless operation of the vehicle. However, you might not have intentionally driven poorly. Other factors, such as health conditions, might account for your conduct.
- The defendant’s driving was careless not reckless. A difference exists between careless driving and reckless driving. Careless driving is when a person disregards the path of the road, such as corners and curves, endangering property or people. It is a lesser offense than reckless driving.
- The defendant enrolled in a driving education class before court. You might recognize that your driving was reckless and have taken a driving course to better control your driving behaviors. The prosecutor and/or judge might look favorably on your taking proactive steps to prevent future violations.
Contact Jonathan Blecher for Defense in Miami
Fighting a reckless driving charge requires a thorough understanding of Florida’s laws and the ability to build compelling counterarguments. I will investigate your case and gather evidence to determine a course of action, working toward a favorable outcome on your behalf.
Schedule a free consultation by calling me at (305) 321-3237 or submitting an online contact form