What you risk by pleading guilty to reckless driving in Florida

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2022 | Traffic Violations

Reckless driving has a broad definition under Florida law. Anyone using a motor vehicle to flee from the police during an active pursuit will likely face reckless driving charges. Police officers can also arrest someone for reckless driving if they believe that the driver displayed willful disregard for the safety of others on the road.

Excessive speeding, road rage, racing, and even getting lost and driving the wrong way down a one-way road could lead to reckless driving charges. Many drivers won’t think of such allegations as very serious. It is surprisingly common for people to plead guilty to any traffic infraction they stand accused of, even if that charge will result in a criminal record.

Reckless driving can mean a misdemeanor or felony offense on your criminal record and other significant penalties, which makes pleading guilty to reckless driving allegations a potentially serious mistake.

How does the state penalize reckless driving?

If you plead guilty, you face jail time, fines or a combination of these two penalties. A first reckless driving charge could mean up to 90 days in state custody and fines of up to $500. A second or subsequent reckless driving charge will lead to up to six months of incarceration and possibly $1,000 in fines.

If you cause damage to property, that increases the charge to a first-degree misdemeanor. If you injure someone, the charge could be a felony. You will have a criminal record that may affect everything from where you live to what jobs you can secure. You will also have to pay more for car insurance, as major driving infractions make you a bigger risk in the eyes of insurance companies. 

How do you defend against reckless driving charges?

The best defense for reckless driving charges will depend on the circumstances. You can either challenge the evidence against you or the intent police officers infer from the circumstances.

Someone accused of fleeing the police, for example, might claim they were unaware of the pursuit because the officer following them did not use their siren or lights. Someone arrested for reckless driving during a traffic stop might claim that the police officer was incorrect in their assumption that their behavior was intentionally reckless.

Fighting back against Florida reckless driving charges can help you preserve your license and avoid a criminal record.