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Reckless Driving - Florida Statute 316.192 | West Palm Beach Crime Lawyer

traffic offenses

It is illegal in West Palm Beach for drivers to drive their vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. There does not have to be an accident which means that reckless driving can be charged for “wreck-less” driving.

Reckless driving is bad driving but it is the middle area between culpably negligent driving, the worst driving, and negligent driving. Simple negligence is not reckless driving. See Berube v. State.

Examples of culpable negligence which is the highest form of bad driving:

  • A person fleeing from police with his infant in the car. See State v. Ellison, 561 So. 2d 576 (Fla. 1990).
  • Displaying the acceleration of a car on a wet road. See Phillips v. State, 289 So. 2d 769 (Fla. 2d D.C.A. 1974).
  • Drinking alcohol, bragging about the speed of the car, spinning the wheels, accelerating down a narrow street, and shifting around in the seat. See State v. Redden, 269 So. 2d 415 (Fla. 2d D.C.A. 1975).

As you can see, culpable negligence is pretty serious. Reckless driving is less than culpable negligence, but is more than mere negligence. It is hard to determine where that line is between negligence and reckless driving. In one case the defendant was speeding home after drinking on a clear night and this was held to be not reckless. See W.E.B. v. State. In another case the defendant was convicted for reckless driving for driving around 100 mph in a residential neighborhood and ramming a police vehicle. See Cruz v. State .

“In determining whether a defendant was driving recklessly, the essential inquiry is whether the defendant knowingly drove the vehicle in such a manner and under such conditions as was likely to cause death or great bodily harm.” Santisteban v. State, 72 So. 3d 187, 195 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011). The facts of the case are important to proving the crime as well as the defendant’s state of mind.

This crime is also considered a lesser included offense for the crime of driving under the influence. A good criminal defense attorney can negotiate to have their client plead guilty to this lesser charge so the minimum mandatory punishments of a DUI will not happen to his client.

What the State Prosecutor has to Prove to Convict a Defendant of This Crime in West Palm Beach

The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt either:

  1. The defendant drove a vehicle in Florida; and
  2. He did so with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

The statute actually says that fleeing from a police officer is reckless per se.


If no property is damaged or person injured, a first conviction can result in up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. A second conviction can be punished up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

If property is damaged, it is a first-degree misdemeanor which is punishable up to 365 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

If a person is seriously injured, it is a third-degree felony, punishable up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

If drugs or alcohol were involved, then the defendant will be required to take a DUI course or substance abuse course.

Contact the Law Office of Roger P. Foley, P.A.

If you have been arrested and charged with this crime in West Palm Beach, call our law office to schedule a free 15 minute case strategy to discuss your case. Our attorneys want to hear your side of the story. We will develop a defense to your case. We will investigate the evidence against you and aggressively scrutinize it. Our attorneys will present to you the options which are available based upon the evidence. Whatever decision you make, going to trial or taking a plea deal, our attorneys will aggressively seek to get you the best outcome possible.

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I was charged with Domestic Violence few years ago and I was referred to Roger Foley from a family member! Roger is a BULLDOG! He was great and very aggressive in helping me beat this bogus case. Case was dismissed! He was on top of everything until the end!! Thomas
My wife (Mother of Stepson) and I Hired Mr Foley to represent my stepson in a minor criminal case. We would highly recommend as it is obvious to us That Mr Foley Genuinely cares and wants to do the Best he can for you which he did for us. Also has a great rapport with all parties in the courtroom..... Steve
Roger P. Foley got me reinstated. Also he got my COS waived, and got me to still be terminated off of probation on my expected termination date. I feel very comfortable with the decision my lawyer made for me. Also I would refer him to anyone who has a criminal felony or misdemeanor case. Jamar
Roger is a very compassionate person, he truly cares about his clients. He helped me with my case and was there for me every step of the way even if it was just reassurance that I needed. I would recommend him to anyone, he is absolutely the best! Cassandra G.
I think your firm did a great job on 3 cases that were 28 years old. The results are better than expected. I truly appreciate the hard work that you and your firm put forth in obtaining the results that we did on this case. Jim