Reckless Driving Charge in Orlando, FL: Everything You Need to Know
While driving has become second nature for most of us, the reality is that it can be a rather dangerous activity. Improperly operating a motor vehicle can lead to property damage as well as bodily harm or even death to yourself or others.
Because of this, the state of Florida has laws against driving unsafely, one of which is the charge of “reckless driving.”
A serious offense that can lead to fines and potentially jail time, reckless driving should not be taken lightly.
If you’re facing a reckless driving charge in Orlando, FL, here is everything you need to know about your situation.
What is Reckless Driving?
According to Florida statutes, those who can be charged with reckless driving include “any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property,” or who is “fleeing a law enforcement officer in a motor vehicle.”
Willful and Wanton
The two key terms to focus on in this definition are “willful” and “wanton.”
In this context, willful means intentional. You were the one choosing to drive that way; you were not acting as a result of any undue stress or an extraneous situation. And you were also aware of what you were doing. It wasn’t a lapse of judgment or a mistake but rather an intentional choice.
The other important part of reckless driving is the term “wanton,” which means you were aware of the consequences of your actions and decided to act on anyone. In other words, you knew that the way you were driving could harm people or property and you didn’t really care.
If you’re facing a reckless driving charge, the prosecution must be able to prove that your actions were both willful and wanton, otherwise you cannot be convicted.
Careless Driving is Not Reckless Driving
Because reckless driving is defined by a “wilful and wanton” act, careless driving alone does not usually qualify.
For example, excessive speeding does not usually warrant a reckless driving charge, though this isn’t always a guarantee.
Instead, speeding typically becomes reckless when it is combined with something else, such as being under the influence of intoxicants or driving through a heavily populated area. Another example would be if you drove through a red light.
Again, the prosecution must be able to prove that you were fully aware of your actions and the consequences they might have but proceeded to act anyway.
In this case, you may still be charged with careless driving, but the consequences for this are much less severe. In fact, you can typically have them dismissed by participating in a driver retraining program.
Penalties for Reckless Driving
If your reckless driving charge turns into a conviction, the penalties can vary widely.
According to Florida law, here’s what you might be facing if found guilty:
- $25 – $500 fine for your first conviction
- Up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 fine for your second conviction
- One year in jail or on probation if there is property damage because of your actions you may also be fined up to $1,000
- If your reckless driving results in serious bodily injury to someone else, this is considered a 3rd degree felony and you could face up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine
In the case of personal injury or property damage, you may also face civil charges as victims can seek damages that resulted from your actions.
Because of the harsh consequences that can come from a reckless driving charge and conviction, it’s important you take your defense seriously.
Crafting Your Defense Against Reckless Driving
When you and your attorney are constructing a defense for your reckless driving charge, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. They must be able to clearly establish that what you did was wilful and wanton.
Much attention will be given to the details surrounding the event, which you will have to do your best to recall.
Beyond that, your defense will usually center around trying to prove that what you did was an accident or the result of carelessness, not a deliberate attempt to hurt someone or something, or to ignore the consequences of your action.
However, the exact nature of your defense will depend on the specifics of your case.
If you’re facing a reckless driving charge in Orlando, FL, you need to get to work on your defense right away. Get in touch with one of the attorneys at Smith and Eulo Law Firm so that we can help you prepare for court and deal with this potentially serious charge. We have two locations in Orlando, one located a few minutes from the Orange County Jail on Kirkman Road, and the other one a few blocks from the Orange County Courthouse on E Concord Street.
In addition to our Orlando locations we also have locations across the state, contact us today for your free consultation: Kissimmee, Sanford, Melbourne, Daytona Beach, Ocala, Lakeland, Tampa, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Miami, Jacksonville.
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