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What Is the Difference Between Careless and Reckless Driving in Florida?

Did you know that Florida hit-and-run crashes went up by 17% in 2021?

Reckless driving in Florida is an increasing problem. A car accident in Florida is already a big financial burden to shoulder, but it could be a lot worse. A reckless driver could jeopardize your life and your property.

Reckless driving and careless driving in Florida might seem like the same thing. But both have a unique classification under the law. It pays to know the difference for your case.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the Florida driving laws on careless and reckless driving. Keep reading for more details.

What Is Careless Driving in Florida?

According to § 316.1925, careless driving is to do the following:

  • Not drive in a prudent and careful manner
  • Display no regard for different aspects of driving such as lane width or traffic density
  • Endanger human life or property as a result of this careless behavior

To put it simply, careless driving in Florida is when you’re not making an effort to drive well. You show disregard for traffic laws or drive in a way that threatens cars and their occupants.

However, a careless driver is not someone who does so with the intention to hard. A careless driver disregards the law out of a lack of concern. They don’t wish for others to suffer as a result of their actions.

Often, a careless driving charge will happen as a result of a car accident in Florida. However, you should drive carefully as this can happen without any crash.

Examples of Careless Driving

Careless driving is a “catch-all” that police officers may use for many traffic violations. This can happen if you rear-end someone, or fail to yield when the signs are clear. In some cases, they may charge you with careless driving if you are distracted.

Here are a few more examples of careless driving:

  • Making a sudden lane change without a blinker
  • Tailgating the cars in front of you
  • Speeding
  • Not making an effort to obey traffic signs
  • Passing a driver in an unsafe manner

Consequences of Careless Driving

Careless driving is a type of moving violation. The result will be heavy fines. In most cases, you will receive points on your license.

Depending on the severity, this could lead to license suspension. This may cause your insurance company to hike up your premiums. Whatever the case, it’s well worth the effort to be a good driver and pay attention.

What Is Reckless Driving in Florida?

According to § 316.192, reckless driving is a matter of intention. Unlike careless driving, this isn’t an issue of lackadaisical concern while behind the wheel. If you are “willful or wanton” in your disregard, then you risk a reckless driving charge.

Careless driving is more an example of poor behavior, without seeking to harm or cause damage. Reckless driving is where this harm and damage happens on purpose.

You are a reckless driver if you drive in a dangerous way while knowing the consequences. You are indifferent to these consequences, whether they be harmful to life or property.

Examples of Reckless Driving

The law for reckless driving is a general law that applies to any sort of driving with that wanton disregard. However, it also outlines a few specific crimes:

  • Trying to flee or evade a pursuing police officer
  • Illegal street racing, such as drag racing
  • Traveling at speeds well above the speed limit and weaving through traffic while doing so
  • Driving 20 mph or more above the speed limit in the area

These are just a few examples of what might constitute reckless driving. You might suffer a reckless driving charge if you speed through a pedestrian crosswalk or ride up on the sidewalk. Attempting to run someone over may include a reckless driving charge.

This charge can apply to a Florida car crash as well. Being intoxicated over the legal limit will only make the repercussions worse.

Consequences of Reckless Driving

A big difference between careless and reckless driving is that reckless driving is a criminal offense. Careless driving is just a moving violation, which incurs penalties that are far less steep.

The penalties for reckless driving are harsh. For your first offense, the state of Florida could imprison you for up to 90 days. Otherwise, they might fine you between $25-500.

Things get worse for a second offense. The state could imprison you for up to 6 months, twice as long as the first sentence. The fine could be between $50 and $1,000.

That’s not to mention that this could result in license suspension and points on your license. A reckless driving offense could make it very difficult for you to drive again. You may struggle to find insurance that would cover you.

What to Do as a Victim of Careless or Reckless Driving

Being on the road in Florida is getting more dangerous than ever. The increase in hit-and-run incidents is just one piece of evidence that you need to keep up your guard. Unfortunately, a Florida car crash is something you may not be able to avoid.

A car accident in Florida can be a devastating thing. And when the accident involves a careless or reckless driver, the damage could be catastrophic. You may suffer an injury and require a lawyer to fight your case.

In the event a driver threatens your life, you should contact a professional. Penalties are high for both careless and reckless driving. There’s a good chance a lawyer can get you the compensation you deserve.

Further, you’ll feel the satisfaction of taking a terrible driver off the streets. A reckless driver that’s in prison is one that cannot harm anyone else.

TAMPA Criminal Defense Lawyers

Reckless driving in Florida is a criminal offense. However, it differs from a similar careless driving law. Reckless driving is about intent to do harm, so it pays to know the difference in the event of an accident.

Looking for representation after a crash? You’ve come to the right place. Contact RHINO Lawyers and get a free case review.


RHINO Lawyers can help and guide you through a system molded by law enforcement, judges, and lawyers for decades. Having won cases for our clients in similar circumstances, our criminal defense team knows what it takes to fight on your behalf.

Let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at (844) RHINO-77.