Is Reckless Driving A Crime Or Infraction?


The state of Florida treats driving on public roadways as a privilege rather than a right. The social contract between drivers and the state presumes that drivers will obey all laws and drive with careful regard to the safety of themselves or others. When drivers fail to do so, the state sanctions them through suspension or revocation of their privilege to drive, incarceration, and fines.

Reckless driving is not merely a traffic ticket — it is a criminal offense carrying significant penalties:

  • First offense reckless driving charge — A misdemeanor carrying a potential sentence of 90 days in jail and up to $500 in fines
  • Second offense reckless driving charge — A misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines
  • Reckless driving causing an accident with property damage — A misdemeanor carrying up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines
  • Reckless driving causing an accident with serious bodily injury — A felony carrying up to 5 years in state prison and a $5,000 fine
  • Reckless driving resulting in an accident causing death — Usually charged as a felony vehicular homicide carrying up to 15 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine

This simple explanation cannot do justice to the very serious consequences that flow from a reckless driving conviction. For example, if the driver in a vehicular homicide also flees the scene, the penalties increase to 30 years in state prison. If alcohol or drugs are components of your reckless driving charge, punishments are tailored to address substance abuse. A conviction for reckless driving could result in a suspension or revocation of your driver's license, depending on your prior driving history. At the very least, a reckless driving conviction adds four points to your driving record or six points if your driving resulted in an accident.

Again, depending on your driving record, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) may be required to declare you a habitual traffic offender (HTO) and suspend your driving privilege for five years following a reckless driving conviction. Even in the simplest scenario, your insurance rates will skyrocket — and if you fail to pay your insurance, you again face the possibility of a license suspension.

If you are facing charges of reckless driving, it is time to take them very seriously.

Topics:  Criminal Prosecution, Infractions, Reckless Driving

Published In: Criminal Law Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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