When driving in Broward County at any time of day, you will see many drivers “multitasking” while trying to navigate its highways and byways. What you may not notice is how guilty each of us can be of doing the same thing. It always comes as a surprise to us to be pulled over for careless driving. We tend to think that it is always the OTHER guy. Figuring out the difference between a “careless” driving traffic ticket and a “reckless” driving traffic ticket can be quite confusing to the average driver. The one major distinction between the two is that you can be fined and go to jail if you get a reckless driving ticket. More importantly, you can be charged with a felony if the reckless driving results in serious injury to someone. With careless driving, it is a misdemeanor violation and results in just a fine. As a non-criminal traffic ticket, violating the Careless Driving statute (Florida Statute 316.1925) is kind of like getting a speeding ticket in Florida. If you pay it, you will get points against your license, but that is all. It focuses on your driving, not your mental state. It is often the result of your making poor choices, not being willfully dangerous.
Violating the reckless driving statue (Florida Statute 316.192) can result in jail time for up to 90 days, even for a first offense. Unlike the lack of focus associated with careless driving, reckless driving is determined by what’s going on in your mind at the time of the offense. Your actions must prove that you just don’t care about anyone else’s safety. One component to be proved is that you thought about the safety of others, but chose to disregard it. This could result in up to six months in jail for a second conviction.
Many times, your actions will determine how you will be charged. I have learned that there are certain things that matter a lot in how you will be charged. Were you observed by the cop to be weaving or driving aggressively? Were you unpleasant to the officer when he pulled you over? Reckless driving can be considered aggressive driving. Aggressive driving is the combination of two unsafe driving actions. Although aggressive driving is not a punishable offense in Florida, it can be notated on the traffic ticket for the purposes of data collection. (It would not be unrealistic to think that the cop may use the concept of “aggressive driving” as a determining factor in charging you with reckless, as opposed to careless, driving.)
In my experience, attitude counts for a lot, so when it comes to a reckless driving ticket versus a careless driving ticket, check your attitude. If you are adjusting the radio, touching up your lipstick, and trying to negotiate your way onto I-95 when you get pulled over, you may want to keep a positive disposition to sway the officer into giving you the less serious traffic ticket. Your best bet is to keep smiling, be polite, and never admit to engaging in “reckless” behavior such as cutting others off. Justification for reckless behavior is seldom successful.
Keep in mind that the Broward County Sherriff’s Office employs over 6,000 employees, many of whom are looking for those drivers who are committing traffic violations while multitasking. They have 6,000 you need only one. What I mean to say is that the cards are always stacked against you when you are fighting a traffic ticket or dealing with the police in general. Thus, you should always seek out the advice of an experienced traffic ticket attorney if you ever find yourself in a jam. Try to stay focused on your driving, but if you get a traffic ticket, please give us a call as soon as you can for your free consultation. Hopefully, you won’t get either, but if you find yourself in Broward County getting either of these citations, I can help you figure out what would be your best course of action.