Reckless Driving, not to be confused with careless driving, is a criminal traffic offense in Florida. An accusation of Reckless Driving does not require a crash, but property damage does enhance the offense. In a recent case, an attempt at defending a charge of Reckless Driving was made via a motion for immunity under the Stand Your Ground law.
The firm represents individuals who have received traffic tickets or criminal accusations in Columbia County, Florida, located in North Florida. Several people receiving citations in Columbia County are from out of state. This is because Interstate 75 and Interstate 10, both heavily traveled by tourists and visitors to Florida, intersect just north of Lake City in Columbia County. The Florida Highway Patrol or FHP monitors traffic along both I-75 and I-10 corridors.
To prove a criminal case of vehicular homicide in Florida, the State must prove reckless driving plus one additional fact, the death of a person. Vehicular homicide, simply stated reckless driving plus a death caused by the reckless driving.
Auto accidents frequently give rise to criminal cases in addition to civil lawsuits and traffic tickets. For example law enforcement may charge a driver in a car crash with Reckless Driving with Property Damage, Vehicular Manslaughter, DUI Manslaughter, DUI with Serious Bodily Injury, DUI with Property Damage, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, Failure to Render Aid, etc. Vehicular Manslaughter is essentially Reckless Driving with a Death. If law enforcement does not believe a crime was committed, then the driver will be charged with careless driving. (More on the difference between Careless Driving and Reckless Driving)
A criminal traffic case of fleeing became news recently as an alleged car chase that crossed Sumter and Marion Counties came to a stop in Alachua County. Sometimes a person accused of fleeing and eluding the police will also be charged with reckless driving, resisting arrest or obstruction of justice. Fleeing or eluding can also be charged as what is known as aggravated fleeing. Aggravated fleeing or eluding can also be charged with serious bodily injury or death.
When someone is accused of the criminal charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, the deadly weapon can be almost anything. For example, a table, chair, baseball bat, firearm, or even a car or other vehicle can become a deadly weapon if used in a certain manner.
Texting and driving is not a direct violation of the law in Florida. However, I have had several prosecutors argue to me that texting was, could be or should be considered reckless driving per se. This all may change with the introduction of senate bill 2013-0052.
Recently I took a Reckless Driving with Property Damage case to trial. Reckless Driving is a criminal traffic offense. Recklessness requires the State to prove a willful and wanton driving pattern likely to cause damage. Furthermore, Reckless Driving is needed to prove Vehicular Homicide, but not DUI Manslaughter. Careless driving is a civil citation, see the blog on the difference between reckless driving and careless driving for more.
In Florida criminal and traffic law there is an enormous difference between reckless driving and careless driving. While many people use the terms "reckless driving" and "careless driving" interchangeably, you should never hear a traffic attorney or criminal defense lawyer do so. The terms do not mean the same thing and are separate and distinct criminal or civil traffic offenses.