This is a very common citation that is normally issued when a driver is involved in a traffic accident. Florida Statute 316.1925 defines the offense of careless driving as follows:
"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."
This offense is a moving violation that result in up to three (3) points being assessed to your driving record. While you may just pay the fine and be on your way, the accumulation of points may result in higher insurance premiums and license suspension.
Why should you fight this ticket?
There are many reasons why careless driving tickets should be challenged in court. Here are a few of the most common scenarios that often result in dismissal, not guilty verdict, or withhold of adjudication (no points):
- Officer did not witness crash, therefore, the officer cannot testify against you with regards to how the accident occurred and the officer cannot use any of the statements you made to him for purposes of the crash investigation (Accident Report Privilege - Fla. Stat. 316.066). However, the officer may testify as to the location of debris in the roadway or other conditions present at the time of the officer's arrival.
- Often times, the only witness is the other driver. One of the most common issues with the other driver being the only witness is that if they fail to appear, your ticket is likely to be dismissed. However, if they do appear in court, they often fail to establish all elements of the offense with their testimony which may result in a not guilty verdict.
- By having an attorney appear on your behalf, you are not required to testify and this will likely prevent you from unknowingly helping establish the State's case.
Aggressive Careless Driving
The Florida Legislature recently enacted Fla. Stat. 316.1923 "Aggressive Careless Driving." This designation was created solely to keep a record of the number of Florida drivers who operate in an aggressive careless manner. While this is not a traffic offense by itself, whenever you are issued a citation and the aggressive careless driving box is check, it may result in harsher penalties being imposed by the court, including a higher fine or an advanced driving course (12-hour). Aggressive Careless Driving, according to Florida Statute 316.1923, occurs when a driver "commit[s] two or more of the following acts simultaneously or in succession:"
- Unsafely or Improperly Changing Lanes
- Following Too Closely
- Failure to Yield
- Improper Passing
- Violating Traffic Control Device