In Florida, the crime of Willful, Wanton and Reckless Driving is governed by Statute 316.192, Florida Statutes. It is illegal to operate a vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Reckless driving can be considered the same as the civil infraction of “Careless Driving” with the added element of intent. Careless driving is not driving in a careful and prudent manner, such as going several miles over the speed limit during a rain storm, or making a right-hand turn without checking both directions. The careless driver made a mistake that may have resulted in an accident, but it was not purposeful. Reckless driving is when the driver knows that he is operating his vehicle in an unsafe manner that may result in damage to property or other people.
Reckless Driving may be difficult to prove because it is so similar to Careless Driving, which is a civil rather than criminal offense. Fleeing from a law enforcement officer always meets the requirements of Reckless Driving, however it is generally charged as Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Law Enforcement Officer.
A first conviction for Willful, Wanton and Reckless Driving is considered a second degree misdemeanor or “specified traffic offense” and carries up to 90 days in jail, 6 months of probation, and/or a $500 fine. A second or subsequent offense is also a second degree misdemeanor but the maximum incarceration is increased from 90 days to 180 days jail. If the reckless driving resulted in property damage, the offense is a first degree misdemeanor with a maximum of one year in jail, one year of probation and/or a $1,000 fine. A conviction for willful, wanton and reckless driving where bodily injury resulted is a third degree felony with a maximum of 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation and up to a $5,000 fine.