Reckless driving is a serious criminal offense in Florida. It involves behavior that goes beyond ordinary negligence or carelessness. The penalties are particularly severe if you caused a bodily injury or property damage with your reckless driving. If you are charged with reckless driving or another vehicular offense, like leaving the scene of an accident, it is imperative to consult an experienced St. Petersburg traffic crime attorney. At Hanlon Law, we are staunch defenders of the rights of the accused.Fighting Reckless Driving Charges
Under Florida Statute section 316.192, a prosecutor charging you with reckless driving must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you drove a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other people or property. Alternatively, you can be charged with reckless driving per se if you flee a police officer in your car.
If you are convicted of reckless driving for the first time, you face possible incarceration of 90 days, a fine of $25-500, or both. For a second or subsequent conviction, you may face incarceration for up to six months, a fine of $50-$1,000, or both. If you recklessly drive and cause damage to someone else or to their property, you can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. However, if you cause a serious bodily injury to someone else, it is charged as a third-degree felony. This means that you may be incarcerated for up to five years and fined a maximum of $5,000. A serious bodily injury is a physical injury that carries a substantial risk of dying, being seriously disfigured, or having the function of a bodily part or organ impaired.
In addition to these penalties, when the court has reasonable cause to think that alcohol or drug consumption contributed to your reckless driving, it will also order you to complete a DUI substance abuse education course and evaluation within a set period. And if the program that you attend for this education refers you to an authorized substance abuse treatment provider, the court can direct you to go there. This referral cannot be waived without an independent psychosocial evaluation that is handled by an authorized substance abuse treatment provider that the court appoints. The court must review the recommendations and results of these evaluations before ruling on your waiver request, and you need to pay the full cost for the procedure. If you do not complete the appropriate course or treatment, the program will let the court know, and your driving privileges will be canceled.
Sometimes it is possible for a St. Petersburg criminal lawyer to negotiate a plea deal for a DUI whereby you agree to a reckless driving conviction. Reckless driving generally carries less severe penalties than DUI penalties. In other cases, it is possible to get reckless driving charges dismissed or secure an acquittal based on the raising of a reasonable doubt. In some cases, it is possible to argue that you did not drive with willful or wanton disregard but that you were simply negligent or careless. For example, speed alone is not enough to establish reckless driving, and the other circumstances surrounding the charge must be factored into determining whether you meet the requisite degree of culpability. If there was someone nearby or a minor in the car who could have gotten injured, it would be more likely that excessive speed could result in a reckless driving conviction. In other cases, it may be possible to call into question the witnesses for the prosecution.Discuss Your Case with a Vehicular Crime Attorney in St. Petersburg
Reckless driving charges are serious, but sometimes the penalties involved with a reckless driving conviction make it an attractive alternative to a drunk driving charge. Each situation is different. If you are seeking a tough and skillful lawyer to fight charges of reckless driving in St. Petersburg, Hanlon Law may be able to represent you. We can look closely at your situation and the charges brought against you to determine a defense strategy, and we can even assist you during the investigation process before charges are filed. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing dedicated criminal defense representation since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or complete our online form.