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Many people assume that reckless driving is a traffic violation because it involves operating a motor vehicle. However, reckless driving allegations are significantly more serious than a traffic ticket and should be taken extremely seriously. While speeding and traffic tickets are civil violations in Florida, reckless driving is a criminal offense and has potential criminal penalties associated with a conviction.
If you have been charged with reckless driving, your very first call should be to an experienced Miami reckless driving attorney who understands the relevant laws, who knows how to fight against wrongful charges, and who can advise you on the best course of action in your case.
What Constitutes Reckless Driving in Florida?
Reckless driving, as defined by Florida law, is operating a vehicle with wanton or willful disregard for the safety of property or people. Whether you had a disregard for others while driving is a subjective determination and, too often, police may accuse you of reckless driving when you were simply violating other traffic laws. For example, just because you were speeding does not mean that you were actually putting the lives of others in danger.
A skilled attorney will examine your actions and determine whether all of the elements of reckless driving can be proven. If your actions did not constitute reckless driving under the law, your attorney can fight against your charges and seek to have them dropped. If your actions were in line with reckless driving definitions and the prosecutor has significant evidence thereof, your attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to see if you can obtain a favorable plea bargain.
In either scenario, you do not ever want to simply plead guilty to reckless driving charges from the start.
Reckless driving can carry serious penalties, including:
- The potential loss of your driver’s license;
- Six months of probation;
- 90 days in jail;
- $500 maximum fine.
These penalties can be doubled if you have a prior conviction for reckless driving on your record.
In addition, a conviction will go on your permanent criminal record and will be available for potential employers to see in the future.
The following charges may appear on your record:
- Second-degree misdemeanor – Reckless driving;
- First-degree misdemeanor – Reckless driving causing damage to property;
- Third-degree felony – Reckless driving causing serious injury to another person.
With property damage, penalties can include 1 year in jail, 1 year of probation, and a $1,000 fine. Causing serious bodily harm can result in up to 5 years in state prison and a $5,000 fine. As you can see, these charges can carry significant penalties, and having an experienced defense attorney on your side is critical.
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Reckless driving may not sound like a particularly serious offense, however, the law in Florida allows for serious penalties for a conviction.
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