Reducing DUI to “Reckless Driving”

In many DUI cases in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, the prosecutor will offer to “reduce” the charges to reckless driving. The judgment and sentence will list the offense as “316.192(1)a RECKLESS DRIV – REDUCED FROM DUI – 1ST OFF.”

If you are adjudicated guilty of reckless driving, the punishments include four (4) points added to your Florida driver’s license. No points are added to the driving record if the court agrees to “withhold adjudication” on the reckless driving charge.

The maximum punishment for a reckless driving charge in Florida is ninety days (90) days in the Hillsborough County jail and a $500.00 fine unless you have a prior conviction for reckless driving.

If you have previously been convicted of reckless driving (and that prior offense is alleged in the charging document), the maximum punishment for any second offense is six (6) months in the county jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine.

If the reckless driving caused property damage, then the crime can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to twelve (12) months in jail.

It is common for the prosecutor to reduce the DUI to reckless driving, especially for a first DUI in Tampa (when no property or personal injury is alleged).

Attorney for DUI Being Reduced to Reckless Driving in Tampa, FL

After an arrest for DUI in Tampa or Hillsborough County, contact an experienced DUI Defense Attorney to learn more about why the criminal charge might be reduced to reckless driving.

We provide a free consultation to talk with you about the accusation, possible defenses, and the best way to get the charge dropped or reduced.

The DUI defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm can also help you demand a formal review hearing to contest the administrative suspension of your driving privileges.

Whether you submitted to a breath test, blood test, urine test, or refused to submit to the test, we can help.

Call 813-250-0500.

Factors Prosecutors Consider When Reducing a DUI to Reckless Driving

The prosecutor will often “review” the DUI file to decide whether to reduce the charge to reckless driving.

What factors does the prosecutor use in making this determination? The prosecutor’s main concern is whether a “guilty” verdict can be obtained at trial.

The more concerned the prosecutor is about a “not guilty” verdict, the more likely the prosecutor is to reduce the charge. Other factors include:

  • Mitigation
    • The officer noted in the report that the driver was “polite and cooperative” during the DUI investigation.
    • The defendant has no prior record.
    • The defendant has already completed DUI school or some enhanced sanction voluntarily such as a CAM monitor or ignition interlock device.
  • Concerns about the Breath Test Reading
    • Problems with the monthly or annual inspections on the Intoxilyer 8000:
      • error or exception messages, including AF/MA, RFI, Interferent Detect, or control;
      • the inspection was repeated after a failed attempt
    • Problems with any required inspection after repairs
    • Problems with subject tests before or after the driver’s test include increased error messages
    • A lack of substantial compliance with administrative rules for the maintenance of the breath test machine
    • Both breath test readings were below .08
    • One of the breath test readings was below .08, and one was above
    • Both of the breath test readings were above .08
      • The driver did not look particularly impaired on the video despite the breath test reading
      • The driver had a reason why the breath test result was over .08 (other than alcohol intoxication), such as:
        • a cough or burp during the 20 minutes before the breath test
        • a fever (any breath temperature above normal can lead to an exaggerated reading)
        • dentures, braces, or other dental work that could trap mouth alcohol
  • Concerns about the Legality of the Stop, Arrest, or Detention
    • A question about whether the stop was legal
    • A question about whether the stop was unreasonably prolonged
    • A question about whether the officer had cause to request field sobriety exercises or probable cause to make the DUI arrest
  • Concerns about the Refusal to Submit to Testing
    • Reasons for a refusal other than “consciousness of guilt”
    • Problems with the reading of implied consent

Penalties for “Wet” Reckless in Florida

Suppose the DUI is reduced to reckless driving. In that case, the prosecutor usually offers a “wet reckless” which means the court has reasonable cause to find that drugs or alcohol contributed to the offense.

With a “wet reckless,” the judge can require the accused to complete an evaluation and DUI educational classes for alcohol or substance abuse. 

Failing to comply with the DUI counseling requirement after a reckless driving plea can result in a suspension of your Florida driver’s license and/or a probation violation.

Four (4) Hour Basic Driver Improvement Course after a Reckless

In addition to DUI school and other court-ordered requirements, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will send a letter within ten (10) days after receiving notice of judicial disposition. 

The notice requires the driver to take a 4-Hour Basic Driver Improvement course within 90 days of notice of the requirement.

The letter is sent because the driving record shows that the driver was convicted of a traffic violation that requires the BDI course as required by Florida Statute Section 322.026.

If you do not take the course, your driving privileges will be canceled indefinitely.

If the court withholds adjudication on the reckless driving charge, you will not be required to take the four-hour basic driver improvement school since only a “conviction” triggers this requirement.

The Benefits of Entering a Plea to Reckless Driving Instead of DUI

The real “reduction” occurs because of the lack of other consequences of a reckless driving plea compared to a DUI conviction.

For instance, if you enter a plea for reckless driving, the court can withhold adjudication.

The withhold of adjudication allows you to seal the criminal record as soon as probation is completed (assuming you are otherwise eligible to seal a criminal record). Additionally, no driver’s license suspension is required.

Likewise, in a reckless driving plea under Florida law, the court is not required to impose DUI school, community service hours, a fine, or any other requirements mandated in a DUI case under Florida law.

Contact a Tampa DUI lawyer experienced in fighting Reckless Driving offenses in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, to discuss the particular facts of your case.

Call 813-250-0500 to speak with a DUI attorney at the Sammis Law Firm today.

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Our Attorneys

Leslie M. Sammis

Leslie M. Sammis

Jason D. Sammis

Jason D. Sammis

Joshua L. Monteiro

Joshua L. Monteiro

Dominique Celerin

Dominique Celerin

Katherine A. Aranda

Katherine A. Aranda

Idalis Vento

Idalis Vento

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