Florida drivers charged with reckless driving charges could face serious consequences
While most drivers don’t ever intend to be involved in an automobile accident, sometimes a driver’s acts so recklessly while driving that they should have known or expected their actions would cause a car accident to occur. Because reckless driving is a serious matter that puts both the driver, any of their passengers, and any one else on the road in danger of serious personal injury or death, it is treated as a serious criminal traffic offense that also carries serious consequences with it. The State of Florida defines reckless driving as the operation of any motor vehicle in a manner that demonstrates a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other people or property. By this definition, a driver has to knowingly and intentionally act in a manner which disregards the safety of other persons or property.
How a reckless driving charge affects your license and insurance
A reckless driving charge can have multiple effects on your driver’s license. To begin with, a reckless driving charge in Florida can result in 4 points being added on to your license. It is never good to have points added on to your license, but most traffic offenses both civil and criminal will add some points on to your license. If you allow these points to accumulate, you could then face additional consequences such as a license suspension simply from having too many points on your license. Having points added on to your license also often makes it necessary for you to participate in a driving safety course to have the points removed from your license. A reckless driving charge could also cause you to face a license suspension for a certain period of time, especially if it is being offered to you as a reduced charge in place of a DUI charge.
In addition to facing consequences with your license, a reckless driving charge can also cause you to face challenges with your automobile insurance. After being convicted of a reckless driving charge your auto insurance rates will almost certainly increase – in many cases it even doubles or triples your current premium. And if the circumstances surrounding a reckless driving charge are serious enough, your automobile insurance carrier may even decide to drop your insurance coverage and you will have difficulty obtaining coverage from another insurance carrier. Because it is against the law to drive without auto insurance in Florida, these consequences can lead to a slippery slope of facing additional criminal charges in the future if you are caught driving without proper insurance coverage.
Reckless driving charges and criminal penalties
A charge of reckless driving is a criminal traffic offense in the State of Florida. The consequences you will face for a reckless driving charge will vary depending on the circumstances surrounding your specific case, but generally speaking the consequences for a reckless driving charge in Florida are as follows:
First Offense of Reckless Driving
A first-time offense of reckless driving is a second-degree misdemeanor charge that can result in jail time up to 90 days and up to 6 months of probation. You will also face a fine of up to $500 and will be responsible for court fees and costs relating to your probation.
Second or Additional Offenses of Reckless Driving
Receiving a second or multiple charges of reckless driving after having already been convicted of a reckless driving charge previously is a second-degree misdemeanor charge that can result in jail time up to 6 months and up to 6 months of probation. You will also face another fine of up to $500 and will be responsible for court fees and costs relating to your probation.
Reckless Driving That Resulted In Property Damage
If you are charged with a reckless driving offense that also resulted in property damage, this is a first-degree misdemeanor charge that can result in jail time up to 1 year and up to 1 year of probation. You will also have a fine of up to $1,000 and will be responsible for court fees and costs relating to your probation.
Reckless Driving That Resulted In Bodily Injury
The most serious type of reckless driving offense you can be charged with is a charge of reckless driving that also resulted in bodily injury. This type of reckless driving charge is a third-degree Felony charge that can result in up to 5 years in prison and up to 5 years of probation. You will also have a fine of up to $5,000 and will be responsible for court fees and costs relating to your probation.
Because a reckless driving charge is a criminal traffic offense, it does remain permanently on your criminal record and you will also likely be required to disclose it to current and potential employers, which could cause you to lose your current job and have difficulty finding new employment.
Is a reckless driving charge ever a good thing?
While we have described the seriousness of a reckless driving charge, there is one time when a reckless driving charge is actually good – when it is being offered as a reduced charge instead of a driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol charge. Because DUI charges almost always have even more serious consequences than a reckless driving charge does, someone facing a DUI charge who has been offered to reduce the charge to reckless driving should seriously consider accepting the offer to reduce the charge to a “wet reckless” driving charge. An individual convicted of a DUI charge will have the charge show up on their record longer than a reckless driving charge which could cause problems with background checks for things such as employment and renting. A DUI charge can also make it difficult or impossible to obtain certain professional licenses and governmental student loans. Finally, the criminal penalties for a DUI charge are also more serious including the amount of time you could face in jail and on probation and the amount of court fees and fines.
Experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer fights to protect your rights when facing reckless driving or other serious traffic offense charges
If you have been accused of reckless driving or another serious traffic offense, you need the understanding and aggressive criminal defense lawyer, Michael C. McGinn, P.A. Contact us today for your FREE initial consultation. Mr. McGinn has a wealth of experience handling many Florida criminal defense cases and is prepared to protect and maximize your legal rights and interests. Call us at 813-374-0353. Mr. McGinn is licensed in all Florida courts; he frequently handles cases in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Pasco, and Polk Counties, and has occasionally handled cases outside of the immediate Tampa Bay Area as well.