They seem very similar, and we understand why clients always seem to get them confused, so we’ll clear up the confusion: careless driving and reckless driving are not the same thing. In fact, both kinds of offenses have important distinctions. A lot of confusion stems from the similarities between them: both reckless and careless driving indicate that a motor vehicle was being operated in an inappropriate fashion, and both can carry hefty fines. However, what differentiates them is the driver’s intent.
Careless driving is a much less serious offense than reckless driving, and it is also considered automobile negligence. According to Florida Statute 316.1925, failure to regard the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person can constitute careless driving.
Acts of careless driving can include following too closely behind the car in ahead, failing to yield the right of way, speeding, and failing to obey any traffic signals. Consequences can include paying fines and obtaining points on your license.
You will not only be mandated to pay hefty fines for reckless driving, but you may also obtain points on your license and serve jail time. Reckless driving is a criminal offense. Florida Statute 316.192 states that any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. And “willful or wanton disregard” means that the driver deliberately disregarded the safety of both people and property while driving.
If you receive a ticket for reckless driving, the prosecution must prove your state of mind. Were you truly operating the vehicle with willful disregard for the safety of other people and/or property? To prove that you were, they may use several tactics, including eyewitness testimony and surveillance footage, if available.
Though you now have an idea of what differentiates reckless and careless driving, determining whether you have committed either one can still be tricky because of the details involved. If you think you are in offense of either act, or if you feel you may be a victim of a careless or reckless driver, contact one of our experienced Miami automobile negligence attorneys.