Being involved in a car accident can be very stressful, even when there are minor or no injuries. It is understandable as we rely heavily on our vehicles to get us to school, work, grandma’s, and every other place we need to go. Additionally, cars are very expensive and most of us work very hard to own a vehicle. Just the thought of dealing with insurance can be daunting. What always makes an already bad situation worse? Standing on the side of the road, looking at the damage, and the law enforcement officer hands you a ticket. In many, if not most cases, the citation associated with your traffic accident is Careless Driving.

What is Careless Driving?

Careless driving is outlined in Florida Statute 316.1925. Careless driving is defined as: 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. Failure to drive in such manner shall constitute careless driving and a violation of this section.

What exactly does Florida Statute 316.1925 mean?

This is actually a very good question. This statute constitutes a type of “catch-all” for a limitless amount of undesirable driving actions or behaviors. If we break the statute down into plain English, we could say, “Everyone operating a vehicle must use due care towards everyone else.” In the eyes of the law, if you are not using due care, then you are acting negligently. A Careless Driving ticket is just that, a ticket for driving negligently.

Defenses for Careless Driving

When you are the at-fault driver of the vehicle that hit the back end of the vehicle in front of you, there is a presumption that you acted negligently. It is important to know, however, that this presumption can be disputed in Court. This does not just apply in civil court cases, but also in the traffic court in which your citation and case was assigned. There are three main areas the courts have found to be adequate defenses:

  • Mechanical failures (such as brake system failures);
  • Medical occurrences (such as driver suffered heart-attack); and
  • Sudden, unexpected stoppage (such as the lead vehicle slammed on her brakes).

Unfortunately, law enforcement doesn’t often concern themselves with the facts that lead up to the accident and instead just writes a ticket based on the presumption, since often times they did not witness the actual collision.

By far, the most common situation is the one that involves a sudden, unexpected stop. Now of course, there are an almost infinite number of ways this could happen. The more cautious the court believes a person should have been, the more likely they are to find that the citation for Careless Driving has merit. For example, there is often a difference between a rear-end collision occurring near an intersection, where extra precaution should be taken, and  a rear-end collision that occurs on an open stretch of highway. Likewise, a rear-end collision that is the result of an animal running into the roadway is quite different than running into the back of someone’s vehicle because you were doing the Kiki Challenge. The former is a great reason that a Careless Driving ticket should be dismissed, while the latter, will most certainly lead to a Careless Driving citation and likely a conviction.

The Take-A-Way

The most important thing to take away from this passage, is that a citation for Careless Driving is beatable, even if you are the cited driver in a rear-end collision accident. Although paying the ticket may be your easiest path, it is not the most prudent. Simply paying the Pinellas County Clerk of Court for your Careless Driving ticket will result in an automatic conviction in which you will receive points on your driving record. It is likely that your automobile insurance carrier will use your violation as an excuse to raise your premium.

If you have received a Careless Driving Ticket or other Traffic Ticket in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, or other area of Pinellas County, we can help. We can carefully examine the facts and law associated with your charge. Our job is to devise a strategy that will lead to the best possible outcome.

Call our office for a free consultation to discuss all your options right over the phone. (727) 578-0303.

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