In Florida, reckless driving is a criminal offense, not merely a traffic violation. Unlike speeding tickets or other moving violations, reckless driving carries serious criminal penalties upon conviction. Florida’s reckless driving law is also broad, meaning that it can be applied in many situations.
For West Palm Beach drivers, this means they could face a reckless driving charge based on a police officer’s subjective judgment. If you are facing a reckless driving charge, call a West Palm Beach reckless driving lawyer. Fighting such a charge is substantially different from protesting other traffic offenses. You need a reckless driving defense lawyer who understands how to handle your case in the Palm Beach County criminal court. To discuss your case in more detail, call a distinguished criminal attorney.
Defining Reckless Driving Law
As noted above, Florida law broadly defines what reckless driving is. Anyone who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. Basically, this means that any motorist who drives a way that increases the risk of injury or death for others on the road could face a reckless driving charge.
However, negligent driving that causes such risks does not qualify as reckless driving. In order to be charged with reckless driving, a driver must have acted willfully or wantonly. Willfully means the driver intentionally, purposefully, or knowingly endangered others on the road. Wantonly means that the driver intentionally ignored the consequences of their dangerous driving.
Example of Reckless Driving
Reckless driving is not merely ignoring the rules of the road. West Palm Beach reckless driving lawyers have seen the following cases:
- Excessive speeding
- Road rage
- Driving the wrong way down a one-way road
- Weaving among other cars
- Racing on public roads
- Fleeing law enforcement in a vehicle
What Penalties Can Someone Face?
Penalties for reckless driving vary depending on whether someone else was actually hurt (or their property was damaged) due to the defendant’s conduct. No injury or property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor that is punishable to up to 90 days in jail, and a $500 fine. Property damage or non-serious injury occurred means facing a first-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to one year in jail, and a $1,000 fine.
If a serious bodily injury occurred, an individual can face a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison, and a $5,000 fine. In cases where the convicted driver was intoxicated or impaired by drugs, penalties can also include a mandatory DUI education and evaluation program.
Help from a Lawyer
Because reckless driving is so poorly defined under state law, it can be difficult for prosecutors to prove someone willfully or wantonly disregard others’ safety. A West Palm Beach reckless driving lawyer can defend an accused driver in court. Prosecutors must prove what the driver’s mindset was at the time of the alleged crime. A West Palm Beach defense lawyer can help show the driver did not act willfully or wantonly, helping them avoid conviction or face reduced charges where possible.
If you are facing a reckless driving or related criminal charge, call a West Palm Beach driving defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will defend you in Court, and fight to help you avoid the high cost of a conviction, incarceration or driver’s license suspension.