In Florida, Reckless driving occurs when the accused operates a motor vehicle in a manner that demonstrates his or her willful or wanton disregard for safety. Fla. Stat. § 316.192. Thus, in a prosecution for Reckless Driving the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt two elements:
- The defendant drove a motor vehicle, and
- The defendant did so with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
The requirement of willful or wanton conduct incorporates a standard that rises above that of negligence. Willful means intentionally, knowingly, and purposely. Wanton consciously and intentionally indifferent to the consequences, and with knowledge that damage was likely to be done to persons or property. Examples of reckless driving include driving a gasoline truck, filled with 9,000 gallons of fuel, at highway speeds around a curving highway ramp, while weaving around other drivers or driving with worn down tire tread and a missing lug nut, while speeding and ignoring a yellow and red light.
Reckless Driving is a highly defensible charge. Examples of common defenses include the lack of a wheel witness, necessity, such as a medical emergency, or arguing that the State has only proved speeding or careless driving.
The charge carries either misdemeanor or felony sanctions, depending on whether the incident resulted in serious bodily injury. A first offense with no bodily injury or property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor with penalties of up to 90 days in jail or 6 months of probation, and $500 fine. A second offense remains a second-degree misdemeanor, however the potential punishment is upped to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. When property damage or injury occurs, the offense is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one-year in jail or one-year of probation, and a $1,000 fine. If the injury is serious, the defendant faces a third-degree felony, with penalties of up to five years in prison or five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine. Fla. Stat. § 775.082 and 775.083.
If you have been arrested or issued a ticket/citation for Reckless Driving, call Michael today.