To constitute “Reckless” driving, the conduct of the defendant must be more aggravated than mere carelessness. There are a number of appellate courts which have analyzed whether driving was truly “reckless” or whether it was merely careless. Likewise, courts have found that speed, by itself, is insufficient to support a finding of recklessness.
Appellate Courts Have Found that the Circumstances Other than or in addition to Speeding are the Key to Carelessness vs. Recklessness
There are a number of Florida appellate court cases that have analyzed whether the conduct of a driver amounted to “reckless” behavior as contemplated by Florida law. In each case, other factors aside from, or in addition to, speed served as the “tipping point” to a finding of recklessness. In that regard, consider the following:
- Santisteban v. State, 72 So.3d 187 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011) (finding reckless driving when defendant drove a gasoline truck, filled with 9,000 gallons of fuel, at excessive speeds around a curving highway ramp, while weaving around other drivers);
- State v. Lebron, 954 So.2d 52 (Fla. 5th DCA 2007) (finding reckless driving where defendant, while speeding, attempted to pass a slower vehicle from the right lane, in the middle of traffic);
- E. v. State, 904 So.2d 558 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005) (finding sufficient evidence to support reckless driving, when a juvenile knowingly drove the car without adult supervision in violation of the law, far in excess of the speed limit, around a dangerous curve, near a school, in the dark, and in an area likely to become congested);
- Martinez v. State, 692 So.2d 199 (Fla. 3d DCA 1997) (finding sufficient evidence to support a conviction for vehicular homicide where defendant drove 70 mph in a 30-mph zone, on a curving section of road, while passing another vehicle in a no-passing zone);
- Lewek v. State, 702 So.2d 527 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997) (finding evidence was sufficient to establish reckless driving where defendant drove a car with shallow tire treads, a missing lug nut, and window tinting that was too dark at 60 mph in a 45–mph zone and failed to reduce speed for a yellow light, subsequently running a red light);
- State v. Knight, 622 So.2d 188 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993) (finding a prima facie case for recklessness where defendant did not possess a valid driver’s license, was driving 65–70 mph in a 35–mph residential area, and was operating a damaged vehicle without the consent of the owner);
- Wright v. State, 573 So.2d 998 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991) (evidence was sufficient to sustain a finding of recklessness where defendant had consumed both a full quart of hard alcohol and half six-pack of malt liquor, was travelling approximately 20 mph over the speed limit, was driving in the oncoming lane of traffic to pass another vehicle, and did not attempt to slow down or maneuver to avoid striking the victim);
- Byrd v. State, 531 So.2d 1004 (Fla. 5th DCA 1988) (finding sufficient evidence to constitute recklessness where defendant drove at twice the posted speed limit in heavy traffic, was warned to slow down, and only tried to stop about six feet from another stopped vehicle); and
- Savoia v. State, 389 So.2d 294 (Fla. 3d DCA 1980) (finding recklessness where defendant, driving on a wet road, drove at 90 mph while intoxicated and crashed into a parked truck without attempting to apply brakes).