When someone is injured as a result of another person's reckless driving, the driver responsible for the injuries can be criminally charged. If serious bodily injury occurs as a result of reckless driving, the offense is elevated to a felony.
Reckless driving is often decided subjectively. The police and prosecutors will claim to know the "intent" of the driver by making accusations he or she acted in "willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons" under Section 316.192 of the Florida Statutes.
As in cases involving Reckless Driving with Property Damage, law enforcement officers in Palm Beach County often file a Reckless Driving with Serious Bodily Injury charge when someone is seriously hurt in a vehicular accident and they cannot prove a driver was otherwise impaired. Although a lesser charge may be more appropriate, the emotions resulting from someone's serious bodily injury as a result of a driving incident demand that someone be held responsible.
If you were arrested on a charge of Reckless Driving with Serious Bodily Injury in West Palm Beach, Florida, or anywhere in Palm Beach County, FL, then it is important that you contact an experienced local criminal defense attorney right away.
Reckless Driving with Serious Bodily Injury is a third-degree felony in Florida. A conviction for this crime may impose a priosn sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000. In addition, convicted felons in Florida lose certain civil rights, including the right to vote or own a gun. The driver might also face a civil lawsuit for damages resulting from personal injury.
It shouldn't be surprising to learn that some people exaggerate the severity of injuries sustained in a vehicular accident. You need an experienced attorney to sort the fact from the fiction.
Meltzer & Bell, P.A. defends drivers from an assortment of criminal charges, including reckless driving, DUI, and other criminal traffic offenses, both felonies and misdemeanors. We aggressively defend the rights of our clients in all proceedings, including criminal and civil. As a result of our thorough, meticulous investigations, we fight for a reduction or dismissal of charges.
Our attorneys represents clients in West Palm Beach and all of Palm Beach County, including Boca Raton, Wellington, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Pakokee and Belle Glade. Call Meltzer & Bell, P.A. at (561) 283-3259 today to discuss you case.
According to the Florida Statutes, § 316.192(3)(c)(2), a person is guilty of Reckless Driving with Property Damage if he or she:
"Serious bodily injury" is defined in F.S. § 316.192(3)(c)(2) as "an injury to another person, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ."
The Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases (No. 28.5) issued by the Florida Supreme Court define some of the other key terms related to a reckless driving prosecution.
“Willful” means "intentionally, knowingly and purposely." “Wanton” means "with a conscious and intentional indifference to consequences and with knowledge that damage is likely to be done to persons or property" (See W.E.B. v. State, 553 So. 2d 323 (Fla. 1st DCA 1989).) Of course, both of these concepts are subject to interpretation and nuance.
The concept of "intent" is highly speculative and a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney may be able to create doubt about any of these terms as they apply in a particular criminal case.
Reckless Driving with Serious Bodily Injury is penalized more severely under Florida law than Reckless Driving with Property Damage, which is a first-degree misdemeanor that is punishable upon conviction by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
According to §§ 775.082 and 775.083 of the Florida Statutes, Reckless Driving with Serious Bodily Injury is a third-degree felony, punishable upon conviction by a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. The court may also order restitution or medical expenses or a separate civil suit may demand compensation for the serious bodily injury.
In addition, if the court has reasonable cause to believe that the use of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances contributed to a reckless driving violation, the court shall direct a convicted person to complete a DUI program substance abuse education course and evaluation, as well as substance abuse treatment, if indicated (F.S. § 316.192(5)), even if evidence of alcohol use is not proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Furthermore, a person's driver's license may be suspended after a conviction for reckless driving if the new conviction adds too many "points" to a driver's record.
Lastly, convicted felons in Florida face many impediments after release from prison, including the loss of certain rights, including the right to vote or own a gun unless granted clemency by the Florida Cabinet, which sits as the Florida Parole Board. Limitations on employment, educational opportunities and housing may also plague a convicted felon.
Florida Statutes, Title XXIII, Chapter 316, § 316.192 — Reckless Driving — Read the Florida law that defines reckless driving and enumerates the penalties for reckless driving offenses, including reckless driving with serious bodily injury.
If you were charged with any type of Reckless Driving offense, especially the felony offense of Reckless Driving with Serious Bodily Injury, then you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney about the details of your case as soon as possible.
The prosecutor is working hard to convict you. You need a qualified criminal defense attorney working even harder to protect your rights.
At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., our attorneys understand the intricacies of the law and use their knowledge of the law and criminal procedure to structure an effective defense. We aggressively fight to defend the rights of our clients, who come to us from all over Palm Beach County, including West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Wellington, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Jupiter.
Call Meltzer & Bell, P.A. at (561) 283-3259 to schedule a meeting with one of our capable criminal defense lawyers in Palm Beach County.
This article on felony reckless driving was last updated on Friday, October 14, 2016.