Reckless driving is the cause of thousands of traffic crashes every year. From speeding, running red lights or stop signs, to texting, illegal passing, and drunk driving, reckless driving takes many forms. As Crestview Auto Accident Attorneys, we are experienced in helping our clients to maximize their recovery following an auto accident. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a reckless driving accident, you may be entitled money damages and the driver may face criminal charges.

Examples of Reckless Driving

Florida law defines reckless driving as driving with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Common charges for reckless driving include:

  • Speeding
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Failing to yield right-of-way to other vehicles and pedestrians
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Texting while driving
  • Evading law enforcement (this is per se reckless driving under Florida law)
  • Racing other vehicles
  • Passing on a two-lane highway over a double yellow line
  • Passing a stopped school bus

Consequences of Reckless Driving

Whereas “careless” driving is a civil traffic offense in Florida, reckless driving is a criminal traffic offense, punishable by fines, imprisonment or both. A first-time reckless driving conviction is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or up to a $500 fine. On a second conviction, the penalty is up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1000. 

A reckless driver who causes damage to the property or person is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor and faces up to one year in prison, plus a $1000 fine. A reckless driver who causes serious bodily injury to another is guilty of a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, plus a $5000 fine. 

A reckless driving conviction will also result in the assessment of four points on the offender’s driver’s license.

The Effects of Reckless Driving Charges on Civil Lawsuits     

Importantly, even if a defendant in a reckless driving case is found to be not guilty by a criminal jury, he or she may still be held liable in a civil case. This is because the prosecution in a criminal case must prove the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” while a lower standard of proof (a “fair preponderance of the evidence”) is applied in civil cases. Thus, while a criminal conviction for reckless driving may increase the likelihood of an offender being held liable in a civil action, it is not a requirement for bringing such a case.

Let Crestview Auto Accident Attorneys Help You

If you or a loved one has been a victim of a reckless driving accident, we welcome you to contact us, either by email or phone (850) 682-2757, for a free, no-obligation consultation.