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Reckless driving occurs whenever someone drives a car or another vehicle without paying attention to the safety of others. It is a criminal charge and can give you a criminal record. If you are charged with reckless driving, you can be punished with both imprisonment and a fine. Additional penalties will be imposed if someone was hurt or property was damaged while recklessly driving. At Hanlon Law, Tampa reckless driving lawyer Will Hanlon understands that being charged with a crime is both confusing and frightening. He is committed to protecting the rights of the accused and works hard to provide his clients with defenses in these cases as well as DUI prosecutions.


Under Florida Statute section 316.192, a prosecutor can obtain a conviction for reckless driving against you if they establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you drove a vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for other people’s safety or the safety of property. If you flee from a law enforcement officer in your vehicle, this is considered reckless driving per se. In other words, you can be convicted without the prosecutor proving willful or wanton disregard if a police officer tries to give you a ticket, but you slam on the accelerator and try to avoid getting the ticket.

Reckless driving is a crime. If you are convicted for the first time, you can be imprisoned for a maximum of 90 days or punished by a fine of $25-$500, or both. If you are convicted for a second (or third or fourth time), you can be imprisoned for up to six months, fined $50-$1,000, or both. A reckless driving attorney in the Tampa area can help you determine the penalties that you may be facing.

Generally, there are greater penalties for causing harm to others. When reckless driving results in damage to someone else or their property, it is a first-degree misdemeanor. When reckless driving causes serious bodily injuries to someone else, it is a third-degree felony. A serious bodily injury involves injuring somebody other than yourself, such that they face a substantial risk of death or significant disfigurement or lose the bodily function of an organ or body part.

Sometimes reckless driving occurs in connection with the use of drugs or alcohol. It may not be possible for a prosecutor to prove the elements of a DUI beyond a reasonable doubt, but they may instead charge reckless driving. In that case, the court can order you to go to a DUI program for substance abuse education and evaluation within a certain time frame.

There are many different defenses that it may be possible to raise against reckless driving charges. One of these is attacking the evidence related to “willful” or “wanton” behavior. Willful involves purposely, knowingly, or intentionally doing something. You drive wantonly if you have a conscious and intentional indifference to the consequences, and you know that it is likely that property or people would be harmed. It is not enough for the prosecutor to show that you were negligent in driving the car to secure a conviction for reckless driving.

Other defenses that may be appropriate include showing extenuating circumstances, attacking witness credibility, or showing that the allegation is based only on excessive speed. For this last defense, there is case law to support the idea that simply speeding (unless it qualifies as grossly excessive speed) is not enough to warrant a reckless driving conviction. There need to be other factors that show a willful or wanton disregard for others’ safety, such as speeding where there are lots of kids or drinking while driving.


Some people do not realize that a charge of reckless driving is a criminal charge, rather than simply a citation. If you are charged with reckless driving, you must take the situation seriously and retain an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has provided a strong, aggressive defense to people accused of crimes since 1994. He provides responsive and personalized representation to clients who are looking for a Tampa reckless driving attorney. Call Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 or use our online form to set up an appointment. We can also help people who need a drunk driving attorney or assistance in fighting other motor vehicle charges.