- Driving Without a License in Florida
- Reckless Driving in Florida
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident
- Protect Your License—and Your Freedom
- 9 Over Speeding Ticket
- Careless Driving in Florida
- Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in Florida
- Florida Point System for Traffic Tickets
- Accident with a Death in Florida
- Leaving Scene of an Accident Involving Property Damage in Florida
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Serious Bodily Injury in Florida
Driving is an integral part of life for most Floridians. Outside of our state’s major cities, many residents do not have access to reliable public transportation. As a result, lawmakers and police legislate and enforce numerous statutes in order to keep the roadways safe.
Driving Without a License in Florida
One of the first rules of the road is that every motorist must have a valid license in order to drive. Drivers who have had their licenses suspended who have never even had a license can face serious consequences in Florida. A first or second offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a maximum fine of $500 and up to 60 days in jail. A third offense is a felony, subject to a maximum fine of $5,000 and a maximum prison term of five years.
Reckless Driving in Florida
You can be charged with reckless driving in Florida for operating your vehicle in a way that showed disregard or negligence for your safety and the safety of others. This could include excessively speeding, or even fleeing a police officer who is attempting to pull you over.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, reckless driving can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. As a second degree misdemeanor, this charge carries a maximum $1,000 fine and a six-month jail sentence. A first degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail or one year of probation and a maximum fine of $1,000. A felony reckless driving conviction can result in a maximum prison sentence of five years or five years of probation and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in injury, property damage or death, you must stay with your vehicle at the scene of the accident until law enforcement arrives. Failure to do so can result in misdemeanor or felony charges of leaving the scene of an accident or hit and run.
If the accident resulted in property damage, misdemeanor charges will be filed. Hit and run that results in injury is charged as a third degree felony. The most serious hit and run charge is reserved for accidents that involve death, which are filed as first degree felonies. These are punishable by a maximum 30-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $10,000.
Protect Your License—and Your Freedom
If you have been charged with any traffic offense in Florida, it is essential that you begin to work with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to protect your driver’s license and good name. To learn more or to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call The Law Place today.
9 Over Speeding Ticket
Did you receive a speeding citation in Florida and you were charged with doing 9 over the speed limit?
Let us explain why this may have happened. Several years ago the cost of speeding tickets in Florida escalated dramatically and even the law enforcement officers started feeling bad for people because of the financial crunch that many citizens have been in these last 10 years. As a result, law enforcement statewide has changed their ways and began to issue speeding tickets alleging what we refer to as “9 over the posted speed limit”. For example, you may have been stopped on the interstate for traveling 88 in a 70 and that would typically result in a fine of upwards of $250. The officer will go back to their car run your history and determine that you haven’t had a ticket in several years. Then will return to your vehicle and give you a ticket for speeding 79 in a 70. You will look at that citation and wonder to yourself, “why did this happen?” The answer is because the officer cut you a break at the side of the road and gave you a 9 over speeding ticket. You must understand that in certain circumstances a police officer can come to court if under court subpoena and amend the citation back to original speed. Traffic court rules in the state of Florida allow for the citation to be amended prior to a trial. Meaning, that prior to a trial a law enforcement officer can come to court and amend the citation back to the original speed. It doesn’t happen often but you must be put on notice of the possibilities. In certain jurisdictions when we take 9 overs to court, the judge will impose a higher fine as they realize that the officer cut you a break at the side of the road. Depending on your driving record we’re still able to keep the points off in most instances. However, you must understand that you would be on the hook for a potentially higher fine.
If you live out of state and you are concerned about points transferring back to your home state from your 9 over speeding ticket, we encourage you to call The Law Place to discuss the particular facts of your case. Depending on the county and your out of state driving record we may be able to keep the points from transferring back to your home state. We look forward to speaking with you about your 9 over speeding ticket.
Careless Driving in Florida
Did you receive a careless driving citation under Florida statute 316.1925?
Other than being charged with speeding, careless driving is one of the most popular statutes written by Florida law enforcement officers. In fact, in many accident investigations by the Florida Highway Patrol, they will issue careless driving tickets to individuals they think fit under the definition of the statute. Here in lies the problem… careless driving is what is commonly referred to as a “catch-all exception”. Anything could be included in a careless driving citation as it’s extremely broad in nature. They consider you to be careless driving if you do not take into account the width, grade, curve and other things of that nature on the roadway. Almost every scenario could potentially be careless driving. You must understand that payment of a citation for a crash that resulted in a careless driving citation is a 4-point ticket. That 4-point ticket could have a detrimental effect on your insurance. Not every careless driving citation is issued in the course of an accident. In fact, if a law enforcement officer observes you squealing your tires, driving and almost striking another person or hitting property, we have seen officers give a citation with those facts. Payment of a citation for careless driving as mentioned previously will result in 4 points on your license and those points will be on your certified driving record for a period of 36 months. Those points potentially can cause a major increase in your insurance. If you have received a ticket for careless driving, we encourage you to call The Law Place as payment of a citation such as this without exploring any court options could have a long lasting effect on both your driving history and insurance. We look forward to speaking with you.
Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in Florida
Do you possess a Florida class A, B or C commercial license?
Over the last 10 years our office has been fighting for over the road and commercial truck drivers and we understand that interstate commerce can’t occur without these drivers doing such great work. In December of 2015 The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles circulated a memo around the State describing how they will deal with violations for commercial drivers. The memo can be found HERE. The memo states that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will not assess points if adjudication was withheld by a judge. However, it goes on to state that a conviction will occur for federal purposes only. It is recommended that you speak to your employer to determine if such a result will affect your employment. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles believes that by coding the information like this, they are in compliance with federal law and are not masking a commercial driver’s record. We also understand that commercial drivers are on the road more than the average person, so you are more susceptible to receiving violations from law enforcement. The State of Florida has a point system, meaning that as a commercial driver you only have two options under current Florida law when it comes to disposing of a moving violation. Those options include paying the citation outright and receiving points on your Florida or out-of-state license or contacting a skilled traffic attorney, like those in our office and inquiring about fighting your ticket in Court in hopes of keeping the points off. A non-commercial driver has a third option, which is not available to commercial drivers that involves a basic driver improvement school.
Since commercial drivers do not have the option to do a 4-hour traffic school, it is critical that you challenge your ticket in Court. Under current Florida guidelines, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is allowing Florida judges and magistrates to withhold adjudication and not accept any points on a CDL’s Florida driving abstract. There is still an entry that appears on the driving history but if successful in court, it will result in no points on your license. Of course if the citation is dismissed outright, then the citation will not appear anywhere. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles under the most recent CDL guidelines has determined methodology in which they are not “masking” a CDL driving history as the violation still appears, just with no points. In many instances over the last 10 plus years of us fighting traffic tickets, we are aware that the accident or ticket may be very minor in nature. Regardless of the severity of the citation, the fact that it was issued has to be challenged because payment of the citation alone without exercising any court options will not only result in points on your license, but could result in you getting terminated from your employment. So, if you are a commercial driver and you received any violation anywhere in Florida we encourage you to call The Law Place in hopes of keeping points off of your license.
Florida Point System for Traffic Tickets
Unlike other states, Florida has a point system when it comes to disposing of traffic tickets. For example, speeding less than 15 over the posted speed limit will result in 3 points on your license. If you are alleged to be traveling over 15 mph over the posted speed limit, that will result in 4 points on your license. Points will typically be factored for up to 36 months for increased insurance. Speeding tickets are not the only moving violations that could incur points on your driving abstract. In fact, driving while license is suspended without knowledge is a 3-point violation, leaving the scene of an accident is a 6-point violation, any moving violation involving an accident is 4-point violation, reckless driving is a 4-point violation, and other violations also have points depending on what you are charged with. When you receive a uniform traffic citation under current Florida law you have three options.
Option 1: You can pay the ticket and receive points on your license. In our opinion that is not the best option and that can have a detrimental effect on your insurance, especially if you are a younger or older driver.
Option 2: You can elect a 4-hour driver improvement school if you are eligible. This election can be made once every 12 months, 5 times in your lifetime. This would not remove the violation from your abstract entirely, but just merely remove the points from your license. This is an option available to people, assuming that you have a non-mandatory citation and do not possess a commercial license.
Option 3: This is for individuals who are contesting the ticket for one reason or another in hopes of keeping the points off of their license or beating the citation outright. This is where we step in to represent you. Every county is different in the way that they handle traffic court, and the results by county can often vary greatly. We are one of the only law firms that lists our case results online, as we believe in complete transparency. If you click (here) you will be able to see our case results for the last several years broken down by county and a detailed explanation of the results.
Therefore, if you have received a citation and you are concerned about the points on your license, we encourage you to contact the office and speak to one of our attorneys about the facts of your ticket. The point system can be very detrimental for individuals who have out of state licenses because in certain circumstances, payment of a citation received in Florida could result in immediate suspension of your driver’s license, depending on the particular facts of your case.
Accident with a Death in Florida
Did you receive a citation following a crash and there’s an allegation that your driving caused a death?
You’re probably experiencing a lot of mental trauma and are wondering where to turn?Luckily, you have landed on our website, where we have handled hundreds of cases involving similar citations. This is not a criminal violation, and we understand that accidents happen every day and our job is to navigate you through this and get you the best possible result. In many instances, an accident may occur and a citation may not be issued at that specific time but sometimes a month later a law enforcement officer may mail (certified) you a citation to your house or personally serve you with a citation involving a mandatory court appearance.Most importantly, time is of the essence in gathering critical evidence in cases such as this. Evidence such as 911 calls, video surveillance and witness statements if not obtained within the first 30 days, could be erased forever. Typically, what happens when you receive a citation involving a fatality is that the clerk will code the violation in their computer system as a mandatory court appearance and therefore will not allow you to make a payment on that sort of violation because the box is checked on the citation for fatality. What you will have to do is wait for a court date to arrive in the mail if one is not printed on the front of your uniform traffic citation. In the State of Florida officers prosecute their own cases so it is up to the officer to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were the driver, that the violation was committed by you, and that there was in fact a fatality and that fatality was a result of your driving actions. The penalty for an infraction involving fatality will be rather severe as it could result in a mandatory loss of your driver’s license for a period of 6 months. Remember, the court must find that your driving conduct caused the death of another individual. In certain circumstances, causation is an issue and the fact that you were issued a citation for an infraction involving death doesn’t necessarily equal a conviction or a case that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The other penalties that you must be aware of with an infraction involving a death include a $1,000 fine, possible public service work hours in a trauma center, traffic school, as well as 4 points on your driver’s license. Regardless of whether the court withholds adjudication on an infraction involving a fatality, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will still take action to suspend your driver’s license for minimum of 6 months if the court finds that the violation was committed. If you have received a ticket in the State of Florida for an accident involving a fatality, we encourage you to call us so we can discuss the particular facts of your case to determine any possible legal defenses. In addition, we will go over the accident report and immediately start gathering any evidence that may be in your favor.
Leaving Scene of an Accident Involving Property Damage in Florida
Have you been charged with leaving the scene of an accident under Florida statute 316.061?
If there were no injuries and only property damage, that makes this crime a misdemeanor. Meaning, that the maximum penalty includes probation, fines and the remote possibility of jail depending on the facts of your case and your previous criminal history. Aside from being a criminal misdemeanor, leaving the scene involving property damage could result in you getting 6 points on your driver’s license if you get adjudicated guilty. If we can negotiate a deal with the State Attorney for a withhold of adjudication, then you would not receive any points on your driver’s license. The State Attorney must prove certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt when it comes to leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage. First, they have to establish that you were the driver of the vehicle. The inability to establish the driver of the vehicle is often a legal defense that can be explored because depending on the facts of your case there may not be a “real witness” that is able to establish that you were the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident. The next element that has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt is the fact that there was an accident and the fact that there was property damage. Usually that’s not where the issues arise, as most of the time it’s with the fact that they can’t establish that you were the driver of the vehicle. Having done thousands of these types of cases, we are well aware that leaving the scene involving property damage will sometimes occur when an individual has been consuming alcohol and they panic because they think they might be charged with driving under the influence. If the facts of your case are similar to the above analogy, we would encourage you to call our office as there may be ways to resolve that case without some of the enhanced penalties that the State Attorney may be seeking if they find that sort of evidence that ties you to an alcohol-related leaving the scene of an accident charge.
Under current Florida statute, the State Attorney’s office is typically not entitled to restitution of leaving the scene of an accident. However, sometimes in the course of negotiation we will agree that our client’s insurance will pick up the damage to the other car or to the property damaged in hopes of getting a more favorable outcome on the criminal case.
Florida has an accident report privilege team that must be in our minds when we deal with leaving the scene of an accident charge. Florida’s accident report privilege is a very unique legal concept, is very much alive in Florida. That doctrine to answer the proposition that if you are involved in an accident and you are forthcoming to the law enforcement officer as how the accident occurred, then your statements to the police cannot be used against you in court. However, there’s case law which says that the accident report privilege doesn’t apply if you leave the scene of an accident you are not “in the protection of not having those statements used against you”. That’s why it’s more important than ever if you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident, regardless of whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor, that you immediately contact a skilled traffic attorney. Leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor under Florida law unless it involves injury. However, the officer has the discretion to either cite you with a notice to appear through the citation or to physically arrest you. You must understand that even though you may not get physically arrested it’s still a criminal charge and should be taken very seriously. Obviously if you are formally arrested and booked into jail for leaving the scene of an accident, this can be very serious. Not only on your criminal record for life, but a permanent blemish on your driving record. Remember that pleading no contest or guilty for a leaving the scene charge ends up as guilt on your permanent record, meaning you will have no opportunity to seal or
expunge this charge from your criminal background. We look forward to speaking with you about your leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage charge.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Serious Bodily Injury in Florida
Have you been arrested and charged with leaving the scene involving injury?
Did you know that under Florida law that if you are in an accident you have a duty to remain at the scene and failure to do so can result in a criminal violation, also causing you to be charged with leaving the scene of an accident? To make matters worse, if the other party involved in the accident is alleged to be injured as a result of your actions, you will be arrested and charged with a 3rd degree felony.
What could the possible punishments be?
A lot of this will be determined by the extent of the injury alleged by the other party. Meaning, that if the other person is suffering a minor injury as opposed to permanent disfigurement as a result of your actions the potential for a county jail sentence or further incarceration would be lessened as opposed to a situation where the other party is seriously injured. In any felony case under Florida law the State Attorney and the judge rely on a Florida sentencing scoresheet in determining what the appropriate penalty would be if you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving injury. The prosecutor takes that felony statute, puts it into a computer database and then puts in the injuries on a severity scale and that kicks out a number. If that number is above 44 points, then you are looking at the potential (unless a downward departure is given) of Florida State prison for the mandatory number of months that the calculator determines. We have had situations within our office where someone is charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving injury but we were able to negotiate a misdemeanor charge with the stipulation that our client would pay restitution for any injuries or property damage that resulted from the accident. In previous cases, that has allowed our clients to be escape a felony conviction. Florida statute requires a law enforcement officer to make an arrest for any felony, so it’s not uncommon for an officer to arrest you and take you to jail if you are charged with leaving the scene involving injury. We can’t stress how critical it is to consult with The Law Place following an arrest for leaving the scene involving injury, regardless of the severity. In all circumstances, when we get retained on a case we immediately begin an investigation to determine whether there is any exculpatory evidence which could help us in defending you in your case. For example, things like witness statements, 911 calls, video surveillance, bar/restaurant receipts and pictures of the damage are all things that if obtained quickly won’t be destroyed or damaged in the process. This evidence could make the difference and potentially give us enough ammunition to deal with the State Attorney in hopes of mitigating your damages. If you have been charged with leaving the scene involving injury we encourage you to call our office day or night, as we would be happy to speak with you. It is critical that you do this immediately because once the evidence is gone, it’s gone.