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Florida law provides harsh penalties for drivers convicted of certain traffic offenses that can include license suspensions, expensive fines, probation and even incarceration in the case of criminal violations. One of the most common criminal traffic offenses in Florida is reckless driving, which carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $500 fine for a first offense. A second or subsequent conviction raises the fine to $1,000 and the maximum jail time to 6 months. The penalties also go up if property is damaged or a person is injured in connection with the driving; property damage or injury raises the punishment to a first-degree misdemeanor with up to a year in jail. If the defendant causes serious bodily injury as a result of reckless driving, he or she may face a third-degree felony charge with a five year maximum jail sentence and a $5,000 fine. All reckless driving convictions will result in 4 points on the defendant’s driving record, and some may require mandatory DUI school if the judge deems drugs or alcohol were involved. Reckless is far more than a simple traffic ticket, and should always be taken seriously.
One of the problems with the reckless driving law in Florida is its extremely broad definition, which can often lead to drivers being charged unjustly. Reckless is defined as driving in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. There is no bright line rule or guideline about what constitutes reckless and what does not, and the result is that it comes down to the opinion of the police officer. There is no reason to risk a criminal conviction, license suspension or even jail based on the opinion of a police officer. You can fight back by hiring a South Florida lawyer who specializes in reckless driving. Benjamin Herbst has successfully handled hundreds of criminal traffic cases in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties and knows the defenses that may be available to you under Florida law. He is available 7 days a week to offer a free consultation about your case. Call Benjamin anytime at (954) 543-0305 to arrange an in person or phone consultation at his offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Palm Beach. He is also happy to meet in the Stuart or Port St. Lucie areas for cases originating in Martin and St. Lucie Counties.
Florida courts have held for decades that speed alone is not sufficient for a reckless driving conviction, yet police officers still routinely charge drivers for reckless when speed is the only factor. We have seen cases where officers add or embellish other facts to try to get around this established rule, but under intense cross examination this tactic will fail. Benjamin Herbst is South Florida reckless driving lawyer that is not afraid to put the police on the witness stand and expose them in front of the jury. He can file a motion to dismiss charges based on the defense of lack of evidence as well as motion to the court for judgment of acquittal after the state’s case at trial. There is also the option of negotiating with the state for a reduction of charge to a negligent driving, which is non-criminal infraction. Either way, Benjamin puts all his clients in the best possible position and never convinces them to take a plea when trial is winnable.
There are various scenarios that Florida courts have held may be sufficient for a reckless driving conviction when combined with high speed. These include driving through crowded residential areas, improperly passing another vehicle, ignoring traffic control devices, driving in the middle of the road, and ignoring the presence of children. Consuming intoxicants such as drugs or alcohol may also be sufficient for reckless driving when combined with speed even if the driver is under the legal limit. Fleeing from the police is also considered per se reckless driving, which means the state does not have to prove poor driving at all. A general rule when evaluating reckless driving in Florida is to consider whether other vehicles or pedestrians were placed in danger by the defendant’s driving, as this is one of the reasons why speed alone is not sufficient. The law is complex and the consequences are too harsh to take on a reckless driving charge in Florida without the assistance of a lawyer. Benjamin is standing by to offer advice and solutions for how to put the case behind you and move on with your life.