What is considered careless driving in Florida?

Despite many people’s best efforts, many Florida laws leave plenty of room for individual interpretation.  When this occurs, those charged with enforcing the laws are given a considerable amount of discretion in determining what conduct amounts to a criminal offense.  No more is this discretion and, at times, abuse, present then in law enforcement’s interpretation of careless driving in Florida. By statute, careless driving is failing to drive in a careful manner, taking into consideration road conditions and other listed factors.   The basic motivation behind the statute is to protect other motorists and pedestrians and to provide serious consequences for those who do not take the proper measures to drive in a careful manner. Although for some, this may seem like a clear-cut line that has been drawn, the statute provides little guidance of what exactly driving in a careless manner entails. As a result, police are given the ability to pull over and ticket just about anyone that they personally feel is not driving in compliance with the statute.

Besides driving 10 miles under the speed limit at all times what can I do to not get pulled over?

With changing weather and road conditions altering the degree of care that needs to be exercised in order to avoid a careless driving infraction, motorists will always need to air on the side of caution when determining how to conduct themselves on the road.  99 percent sure you can safely pass that slow moving truck in front of you?  Think again.  In a rush and confident that you can drive through a patch of curvy roads at five miles over the posted speed limit?  Better reconsider. Essentially, if you never want to be at risk of being pulled over for careless driving you must live by one rule: If there is any doubt as to safety, don’t perform the desired traffic maneuver. Also, there is a new law in Florida that if you drive 10 MPH under the limit in the left lane, you will get a traffic ticket.

What happens if I do get pulled over for careless driving?

Inevitably, despite a driver’s best intentions, they will commit acts that could be interpreted by certain officers as being careless.  In the event these officers witness these acts and pull a driver over, the same laws pertaining to other traffic tickets apply: 1) Don’t admit guilt on the roadside; 2) Listen carefully to the reasoning the officer gives you for pulling you over and 3) Immediately after the stop, make notes of the circumstances of your driving as you saw them so that you can advise your attorney as accurately as possible. Always be polite and don’t argue. Remember, you want the cop to NOT remember you.

What penalties can I face if I just mail in the ticket with a payment?

There are numerous reasons why anyone who has been charged with careless driving should deny (plead not guilty) the charge so they can have their day in court. In some cases, a police officer will claim that they have grounds for the issuance of other moving violations along with a careless driving citation.  This can be based on the speed they perceived the driver was traveling at, a red light allegedly being run or other factors, which taken together, could lead to a handful of other tickets carrying with them serious penalties. However, by looking at each ticket separately, there may be a way to fight some, or all of the charges, which can only be done at trial.  If individual tickets for other offenses beyond careless driving are won, this could cast doubt in the mind of the judge as to the validity of the careless driving infraction. Even though some drivers will look at the fines assessed and decide that they are able and willing to pay such fines, there are also hidden costs to admitting guilt such as being required to enroll in driving school or the payment of increased insurance rates, which can hit especially hard when a driver is convicted of careless driving. You will also get points on your license if you just pay the traffic ticket. Don’t let one officer’s perception of your alleged careless driving in Florida subject you to unjust consequences.   Instead, allow someone neutral to take a look at all the evidence and make a determination.  The end result may be far less painful then you may possibly believe. That is why I tell every client, NEVER just pay a traffic ticket. Hire an experienced traffic ticket lawyer to fight back for you.

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