When property is damaged as a result of someone driving a vehicle recklessly, the driver who inflicted damage is not only held responsible but is also charged with a crime.
But the very definition of "reckless driving" is open to subjective interpretation. Section 316.192 of the Florida Statutes defines "reckless driving" as occurring when "any person drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property" or when a driver flees from a law enforcement officer in a motor vehicle (emphasis added).
In Palm Beach County and throughout Florida, the police will often assert that a driver acted with "willful or wanton disregard" and file a reckless driving charge when they cannot prove a driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol.
A traffic ticket or lesser "careless driving" charge may have been more appropriate if any charge is justified at all. But unlike a traffic ticket, a charge of reckless driving with property damage should not be shrugged off as a minor problem.
A charge of Reckless Driving with Property Damage raises the stakes because the offense is a first-degree misdemeanor.
A conviction for reckless driving with property damage imposes a maximum statutory penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 The court can also order the driver to pay restitution as a condition of probation.
If you were arrested or issued a Notice to Appear for a charge of Reckless Driving with Property Damage in West Palm Beach, Florida, or anywhere in Palm Beach County, FL, then you should contact an experienced local criminal defense attorney today.
In addition to the criminal penalties you face if convicted, you could be sued for property damage and your driver's license could also be suspended. One unfortunate incident may have catastrophic, long-term consequences if you do not act quickly to protect your rights.
A knowledgeable attorney can act on your behalf, defending your rights and your freedom. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. is focused on defending drivers from all sorts of criminal charges, including reckless driving, DUI, and other traffic offenses.
We attack the prosecutor's case at all levels. Our attorneys fight to obtain a reduction or dismissal of charges.
Meltzer & Bell, P.A. has a main office in West Palm Beach, but we also serve clients throughout Palm Beach County, including Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Wellington, Lake Worth, Jupiter, and Palm Beach Gardens.
Call Meltzer & Bell, P.A. at (561) 557-8686 today to schedule a free consultation about your Reckless Driving with Property Damage charge.
Anybody can file a complaint alleging property damage, including allegations of the infliction of non-serious personal injury. A dented car, a torn-up lawn, or a broken mailbox all have diminished value after being damaged by a vehicle in a crash. A responsible driver will admit an accident and pay up, within reason. Many neighborhood fender-benders and minor parking lot incidents are handled without police intervention every day.
When reckless driving is allegedly the cause of property damage, a criminal prosecution can occur. Under F.S. § 316.192(3)(c)(1), a person is guilty of Reckless Driving with Property Damage if he or she:
The Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases (No. 28.5) issued by the Florida Supreme Court define some of the key terms related to a reckless driving prosecution.
“Willful” means intentionally, knowingly and purposely. “Wanton” means with a conscious and intentional indifference to consequences and with knowledge that damage is likely to be done to persons or property. (See W.E.B. v. State, 553 So. 2d 323 (Fla. 1st DCA 1989).)
Determining the intentions of a person by briefly witnessing an action — or the aftermath of an action — is fraught with speculation. A skilled criminal defense attorney can exploit these incongruities while exposing weaknesses in the prosecution's case.
Reckless Driving with Property Damage is penalized more severely under Florida law than reckless driving without property damage, which is criminally punishable by a maximum of 90 days in jail and a fine of between $25 and $500.
According to §§ 775.082 and 775.083 of the Florida Statutes, a first-degree misdemeanor, including Reckless Driving with Property Damage, is punishable upon conviction by a sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The court may also order restitution for damaged property or a separate civil suit may demand compensation for property damage or non-serious personal injury.
In addition, if the court has reasonable cause to believe that the use of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances contributed to a reckless driving violation, the court shall direct a convicted person to complete a DUI program substance abuse education course and evaluation, as well as substance abuse treatment, if indicated (F.S. § 316.192(5)), even if evidence of alcohol use is not proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Furthermore, a person's driver's license may be suspended after a conviction for reckless driving if the new conviction adds too many "points" to a driver's record.
Florida Statutes, Title XXIII, Chapter 316, § 316.192 — Reckless Driving — Read the Florida law that defines reckless driving and enumerates the penalties for reckless driving offenses, including reckless driving with property damage.
Reckless Driving with Property Damage is a criminal charge that could result in severe and expensive penalties. If you were charged with any type of Reckless Driving offense, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case as soon as possible.
The experienced criminal traffic attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. understand how the system works and we are well-prepared to represent clients throughout Palm Beach County in Reckless Driving cases, including reckless driving with property damage and other misdemeanor offenses.
We vigorously fight to defend the legal and property rights of our clients, whether they come from West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Wellington, Boynton Beach, Jupiter or Bell Glade.
Call Meltzer & Bell, P.A. today at (561) 557-8686 to schedule a meeting with one of our dedicated Palm Beach County lawyers.
This article was last updated on Friday, March 4, 2016.
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