What Should You Do With Your Careless Driving Ticket in Florida?

If you recently got a careless driving ticket in Florida, we know that you likely have many questions about how it will impact your driving record and your possible criminal record.

When you receive a careless driving ticket in Florida, you should learn more about this offense, potential defenses, and the penalties that you may face under Florida law.

The most important thing will be working with a Florida traffic defense attorney to learn more about fighting the ticket and the charges.

Learn More About the Definition of Careless Driving Under Florida Law

Under Florida law (Fla. Stat. § 316.1925), careless driving is defined in terms of failing to obey the law. The statute makes clear that “any person operating a vehicle upon the streets or highways within the state shall drive the same in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.”

The statute then goes on to explain that “failure to drive in such manner shall constitute careless driving.” In other words, anyone who is driving in Florida is expected to obey the rules of the road in order to avoid harming anyone else or causing any type of property damage. If a driver fails to drive in that manner, or what Florida law describes as a careful and prudent manner, then you can face careless driving charges.

A person can get a ticket for careless driving in a wide variety of circumstances, including traffic accidents in which the law enforcement official believes that the person is at fault, as well as any incidents in which a law enforcement official believes that a driver is not driving in a careful and prudent manner.

To be clear, no harm has to occur—nobody has to get hurt and no property damage must occur—in order for a person to get a ticket for careless driving.

Understand Penalties for Careless Driving in Florida

You should know the penalties for careless driving in order to understand the importance of fighting your ticket. While careless driving is not a criminal offense, potential penalties can include costly fines. The maximum penalty for a careless driving charge under Florida law is $500, while the minimum fine is $160. A person convicted of careless driving can also be required to pay court costs.

Yet penalties for careless driving extend beyond the financial penalty that you will pay. Typically, a careless driving conviction means that you will end up with more points on your license than you would with a typical traffic violation.

While many moving violations result in 3 points or fewer on a person’s driver’s license, a careless driving conviction can result in 4 points on your driver’s license. As a result, a careless driving ticket can end up costing significantly more money in the long run for car insurance.

In some cases, it may be possible to get what is known as a “withhold of adjudication.” In Florida, this means that the person does not have a conviction, and must take a driving class in order to avoid having the conviction on his or her record. Typically a “withhold of adjudication” is only possible in situations where there was no property damage and where the careless driving ticket was a first offense.

You Should Fight Your Ticket

When you get a careless driving ticket, you should find out if you can fight the ticket. The first step in fighting the ticket is hiring an experienced Florida traffic defense lawyer to help with your case.

It is important to work with a lawyer who has experience handling a wide variety of traffic defense cases, including fighting careless driving tickets. The aggressive Florida traffic defense attorneys at Skubiak & Rivas, P.A. can begin working on your case with you today.

Learn More About Possible Defenses to Careless Driving

The next step in fighting your ticket is learning more about possible defenses that may be available to you. Since a careless driving ticket typically is your word against the law enforcement officer who issued the ticket, you should remember that it is always possible to dispute the charge.

While defense will depend largely upon the specific circumstances of your case, you may be able to argue one or more of the following common defenses to careless driving in Florida:

Common Defenses

  • You were wrongly accused and you are not the person who was driving in a manner that was not prudent and careful;
  • You struck another vehicle but you were actually driving in a manner that was prudent and careful, yet the car accident was unavoidable because you were struck from behind by another vehicle;
  • You struck another vehicle but you were actually driving in a manner that was prudent and careful, yet the car accident was unavoidable because of inclement weather;
  • A motor vehicle defect caused your car to operate in a manner that appeared to violate the law;
  • Your mechanic was negligent in maintaining your vehicle, which resulted in an operating error that made it appear that you failed to drive in a manner that was prudent and careful; or
  • You swerved (or made another move behind the wheel that appeared to violate Florida law) in order to avoid an accident or to avoid a more hazardous condition on the road.

You Should Understand that Careless Driving is Different from Reckless Driving Under Florida Law

You should keep in mind, no matter what, that careless driving is a separate and distinct offense from reckless driving. Why is this important?

While it is extremely important to fight your careless driving charges, you should know that you are not facing criminal charges. Reckless driving, unlike careless driving, is a criminal charge in Florida that can result in criminal penalties.

Contact a Florida Traffic Defense Lawyer

What should you do when you receive a careless driving ticket? You should immediately speak with a Florida traffic defense attorney about your case. Contact Skubiak & Rivas, P.A. today for more information.

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