Reducing the Florida DUI to “Reckless Driving”
In many DUI cases in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, the prosecutor will offer to “reduce” the charges to reckless driving. If you are adjudicated guilty of reckless driving, then the punishments includes four (4) points being added to your Florida driver’s license.
If the court agrees to “withhold adjudication” on the reckless driving charge, then no points are added to the driving record.
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 then the maximum punishment for any second offense is six (6) months in the county jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine.
A reckless driving causing property damage is 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).
Contact one of our DUI Defense Attorneys in Tampa, FL. 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 main factor considered by the prosecutor 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:
- The officer noted in the report that the driver was “polite and cooperative” during the DUI investigation
- Concerns about the Breath Test Reading
- Problems with the monthly, annual or after repair inspections on the Intoxilyer 8000
- 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
- Concerns about the defendant’s willingness to go to trial
Penalties for “Wet” Reckless in Florida
In certain cases in which the driver is charged with reckless driving and the court has reasonable cause to find that drugs or alcohol contributed to the offense, the judge can require the person 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.
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 10 days after receiving notice of judicial disposition requiring the driver 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 pursuant to F.S. 322.026. If you do not take the course then your driving privileges will be canceled indefinitely.
If the court withholds adjudication on the reckless driving charge, then 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 when compared to a DUI conviction. For instance, if you enter a plea to reckless driving the court can withhold adjudication which allows you to seal the criminal record as soon as probation is completed (assuming that 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 of the other requirements that are mandated in a DUI case under Florida law.
The criminal offense of reckless driving is often difficult to prove under Florida law, although it can be very valuable in resolving a DUI case so that the client can avoid a DUI conviction.
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.
This article was last updated on Friday, August 21, 2020.