Careless Driving vs Reckless Driving
You may have heard the terms careless driving and reckless driving and always assumed they referred to the same traffic violation. While there are some similarities, “careless driving” and “reckless driving” have different connotations and these can affect everything from what you’re charged with, to increases in insurance premiums, to your sentence if you’re found guilty.
In Florida, careless driving is a civil traffic offense whereas reckless driving is considered a criminal offense. Florida Statute §316.192 states, “Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in Florida. Police officers commonly cite careless driving for drivers whom they believe are at fault in a car accident. Careless driving is particularly cited in rear-end collisions when the police officer did not witness the accident and the driver who was rear-ended did not see or know why the accident occurred.
Reckless driving is a misdemeanor criminal offense, which means if convicted then it will be on your criminal history. You can actually be arrested for reckless driving, though often law enforcement officers will issue a Notice to Appear in Court with the criminal traffic citation. A first offense of reckless driving is punishable with up to 90-days in jail or up to six months of county probation, and up to a $500 fine. A second or subsequent offense is punishable by up to six months in jail or up to 12 months of county probation, and up to $1,000 in fines. If a person causes damage to a person or property, then reckless driving is punishable by up to 12 months in jail or up to 12 months of probation, and up to $1,000 in fines. If you cause serious bodily injury to another, then reckless driving becomes a 3rd-degree felony, punishable up to five years in prison or five years of felony probation and up to $5,000 in fines.
If you choose to resolve the matter without a trial, then you can negotiate a plea with the office of the state attorney, or enter an open plea, also referred to as a straight-up plea. With this being a criminal offense, it is always a good idea to hire a lawyer. Oftentimes, people mistakenly treat reckless driving offenses as a civil traffic citation, not realizing it is criminal in nature until it is too late. Additionally, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will assess points to your driver’s license in the event you are adjudicated guilty of reckless driving.
Careless driving, on the other hand, is a civil traffic citation. The statute for careless driving requires drivers in Florida to drive in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other circumstances so as to not endanger the life, limb, or property of any person. If you are issued a civil careless driving citation, you have 30-days to pay the ticket or to request a formal traffic hearing.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a careless or reckless driver, call 1-800-411-PAIN and get the help you need! We will refer you to the attorneys that will fight to get you the compensation you deserve and the medical attention you need. If you have been hurt in an accident, call 1-800-411-PAIN, and we will guide you in finding you the best medical and legal professionals.