Can I Be Arrested For Driving Badly On Vacation In Florida?

Whether you reside or vacation in Florida, you are required to drive here in a careful and prudent manner, while taking into consideration all attendant circumstances so as not to endanger life, liberty, or property. Failure to drive in such a manner constitutes Careless Driving under Florida law. Any driver that fails to drive carefully and prudently is subject to a citation for this moving violation, which is a civil traffic offense.

Careless Driving

In Florida, police officers commonly use a Careless Driving citation as a catch-all for various driving infractions, including issuing such a citation to the at-fault driver in a car accident. However, such offenses are moving violations, which are generally civil traffic offenses that will not result in an arrest.

Whether you live or vacation here in Florida, how badly must you drive to actually get arrested? What are the possible fines and jail time for such offenses? Nonresidents of Florida should note that their driver’s licenses are.

When a motorist is observed violating the law while driving, and pulled over for a routine traffic stop, he or she will be cited for either a moving or criminal traffic violation. Moving violations such as speeding or running a stop sign result in the issuance of a ticket, which usually carries some potential fine and license points. As you would expect, criminal traffic violations are much more serious and result in misdemeanor or felony charges that may carry larger fines and possible jail time.

Aggressive Careless Driving

Florida drivers that commit two or more of the acts listed in Florida Statute §316.1923 simultaneously or in succession may be cited for Aggressive Careless Driving. This list of acts includes exceeding the posted speed, unsafely or improperly changing lanes, following another vehicle too closely, failing to yield the right-of-way, improperly passing, and violating traffic control and signal devices. Usually, this results in the issuance of a moving violation.

Reckless Driving

Under Florida Statute §316.192, any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of Reckless Driving, a criminal offense. Fleeing a law enforcement officer in a motor vehicle is reckless driving per se. Some other examples of reckless driving in Florida include, but are not limited to, texting while driving, drag racing, driving around a stopped school bus knowing children are getting off, and weaving in and out of traffic at an extremely high rate of speed. Florida drivers may be arrested for Reckless Driving.

Upon a first conviction, Reckless Driving is punishable by imprisonment for a period of not more than 90 days or by fine of not less than $25, nor more than $500, or both. On a second or subsequent conviction, it is punishable by imprisonment of not more than 6 months or by a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $1,000, or both. Someone that causes damage to the property or person of another commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, while someone that causes serious bodily injury to another commits a felony of the third degree.

Permitting Unauthorized Operator to Drive

It is also a criminal offense in Florida for a person to allow a motor vehicle under his or her ownership or control to be operated upon any highway by a person who is unauthorized to operate a motor vehicle under Florida law. Any person who violates this statute commits a misdemeanor of the second degree. If the loaned vehicle is involved in an accident resulting in bodily injury or death, the owner will have his or her license suspended for one year.

Racing on Highways

It is also a criminal offense for a person to drive any motor vehicle, in any race, speed competition or contest, drag race or acceleration contest, test of physical endurance, or exhibition of speed or acceleration or for the purpose of making a speed record on any highway, roadway, or parking lot. It is also a criminal offense to coordinate, facilitate, schedule or collect money for any such race or competition. Similarly, it is also a Florida criminal offense if someone knowingly rides as a passenger in any such race or competition or purposefully causes the movement of traffic to slow or stop.

First-time offenders of this law commit a misdemeanor of the first degree and are subject to a one-year license suspension and fines of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000. The fines and time periods for which licenses are suspended increase for repeat offenses. The fine may be as much as $5,000 with a license suspension of as much as four years for third-time offenders

If you’ve been arrested and charged with Reckless Driving in Key West, call Alan Fowler, an experienced Key West criminal defense attorney, for a consultation at 305.912.2516.