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Careless Driving

Careless driving is one of the most common citations issued in Florida crashes. It’s often issued in rear-end collisions, intersection crashes and crashes involving pedestrians or bicyclists. It’s something of a “catch-all” in that it addresses the failed expectation that drivers will operate their vehicles in a manner that is both prudent and careful.

At The Ansara Law Firm, our traffic ticket defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale know that when this citation is issued following a crash, it usually means the officer didn’t directly observe the offense. That could mean the conclusions of the officer are based on inaccurate witness statements or erroneous analysis of the evidence.

These are often highly defensible cases, and it’s worth it to fight your Broward traffic ticket because it reduces your chances of points on your license (which could lead to suspension), substantial fines, community service requirements and higher insurance rates.

In a single recent year, Florida law enforcement agencies reported issuing more than 211,000 citations for careless driving. Of those, more than 63,000 were dismissed. There is ample reason to fight your careless driving traffic ticket, and our experienced defense lawyers can help.

What Is Careless Driving in Florida

Careless driving is defined (albeit a bit vaguely) in F.S. 316.1925 . It can be cited when a person is operating a vehicle on any street or highway in the state and does so in manner that is not careful or prudent and lacks regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic and all other relevant circumstances, which in turn endangers the life, limb or property of someone else.

It’s considered a non-criminal moving violation.

It’s often confused with reckless driving. However, the two are quite different. Reckless driving, as defined in F.S. 316.192 , is a criminal traffic offense, which means you could face jail time (up to 90 days for a first-time offense with no property damage or injury). Reckless driving occurs when a person drives a vehicle with wanton or willful disregard for the safety of other people or their property. If you flee from a law enforcement officer, it’s reckless driving per se (by law). If you cause damage to the property of another person while reckless driving, it’s a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. If you cause serious bodily injury to someone, it’s a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. If someone dies, you’re more likely to be charged with either vehicular homicide or DUI manslaughter.

Basically, reckless driving insinuates that a motorist willingly and knowingly operated the vehicle in a manner that was unsafe.

The penalties for reckless driving are far more severe than for careless driving, which is why our traffic ticket attorneys will (barring other effective defense strategies) seek a reduction of reckless driving charges to careless driving.

There is also “aggressive careless driving,” as explained in F.S. 316.1923 . This can be cited when you commit two or more of the following:

  • Speeding;
  • Unsafe/ improper lane changes;
  • Following another vehicle too closely;
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way;
  • Improper passing;
  • Violating a traffic control signal.

You may be cited for more than one offense in a careless driving case.

Penalties for Careless Driving

As a non-criminal traffic infraction, you generally aren’t facing jail time with a careless driving citation. That assumes, however, you sign the citation and you haven’t committed any other illegal act.

By law, the maximum penalty you can face after being found guilty of careless driving is $500, plus court costs. The minimum fine is $160.

Further, if you are adjudicated guilty, you will have 4 points added to your driver’s license.

However, the biggest impact usually comes in the form of long-term increased insurance rates. One way you may be able to avoid this (barring dismissal of the ticket entirely) is to hire a traffic ticket attorney to take the matter to court for you and request adjudication be withheld. Typically, this involves a requirement to attend a driver safety education course. There is a cost to this as well, but at least those are one-time expenses, rather than years-long insurance rate hikes.

Defense attorneys know law enforcement officers often cite motorists for careless driving solely based on a subjective belief or even as a pretext to stop someone for another suspected offense. However, to obtain a conviction, the state must prove the driving endangered the life, limb or property of someone else. Lack of evidence is often a top defense in Florida careless driving cases.

If you wish to fight a Fort Lauderdale traffic ticket, call The Ansara Law Firm today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011.


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