Do you know the difference between Careless Driving and Reckless Driving? Under Florida Statute, careless driving is considered a civil offense while reckless driving is considered a criminal offense.
Reckless driving (Florida Statute 316.192) is any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
In Florida, the penalties for reckless driving can vary from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the property damage and bodily harm. For the first offense with no bodily harm or property damage, the penalty can be up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. A second offense can be punished by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
If there was property damage or injury, it is considered a first-degree misdemeanor, with up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If there is serious bodily injury, it is a third-degree felony with a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The careless driving law (Florida Statute 316.1925) states that any person operating a vehicle on the streets or highways within the state shall drive carefully, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb or property of any person. While careless driving is considered a civil offense, a conviction means that you will end up with more points on your license than you would with a typical traffic violation.
A careless driving ticket may be issued for a variety of reasons. This includes traffic accidents where the law enforcement officer believes the driver is at fault or non-accident where the officer believes the driver is generally not driving carefully. It typically involves two contemporaneous traffic infractions. To be considered careless, nobody has to get hurt and no property damage needs to occur.
A careless driving ticket may not have a mandatory court date. However, a reckless driving ticket will always have a court date because it is a criminal violation. If you fail to appear for a court date, a warrant may be issued for your arrest unless you have already hired an attorney to appear on your behalf.