What Is Careless Driving According to Florida Laws?

date iconApril 12, 2023

In Florida, careless driving is considered a civil traffic offense, and is a form of negligence that occurs when an individual fails to exercise reasonable care or precaution when operating a motor vehicle, resulting in an unsafe situation for those on the road. The consequences of a careless driving charge in Florida can result in fines, suspension of one’s license, and additional civil penalties. If you’ve been charged with such an offense, knowing your rights and seeking legal representation are important first steps to take to guarantee that your rights are upheld throughout your case.

Making It Clear: What The Careless Driving Statute States

The Florida Statute 316.1925 for careless driving clearly defines the offense as:

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 a manner shall constitute careless driving and a violation of this section.

Drivers that fail to abide by the careless driving statute, will be cited for a moving violation. On the first offense, this carries a punishment of four points on the offender’s driver’s license, and a fine of up to $500. However, certain circumstances may carry additional civil penalties, such as the suspension of one’s license or an increase in insurance rates, and in severe cases where property damage occurs, the careless driving citation may become a first-degree misdemeanor which carries potential jail time.

Careless Driving in Florida As A Catch-All Citation

Due to the broadness of the careless driving statute, it is sometimes used as a “catch-all” citation for minor traffic violations, such as running a stop sign, failing to yield, driving too slowly in the left lane, or causing traffic by slow speed. In some cases, an officer may use such a charge if they are unable to determine what the exact offense was, and must make an educated judgment on whether the driver’s actions should result in a ticket or a civil penalty.

If you have been charged with careless driving, but want to dispute the validity of the charge, contact one of our experienced attorneys for a free consultation to find out what we can do for you. It is always worthwhile to make a strong effort to fight against the charges, as they can carry hefty fines and additional penalties. Our attorneys can assess your case, look for weaknesses or points of dispute that can be used in a court of law to potentially avoid a conviction.

Knowing The Difference Between Careless, Aggressive and Reckless Driving in Florida

When looking at careless driving, aggressive driving, and reckless driving in Florida, the law defines these three as separate violations, and each carries with it different consequences.  While careless driving encompasses a broad range of minor offenses, aggressive careless driving is classified as a more serious, and elevated charge, while reckless driving in Florida is a criminal offense.  Here is a breakdown of how aggressive and reckless driving differ from careless driving.


Aggressive Careless Driving in Florida

This moving violation charge is given when a driver is failing to abide by the careless driving statute, and is also displaying two of the following behaviors:


  1. Driving above the speed limit.
  2. Disobeying traffic signals/controls.
  3. Changing lanes in an unsafe or improper manner.
  4. Improperly passing another driver.
  5. Failing to yield to those with the right of way.
  6. Tailgating another vehicle.


An example of this would be driving above the speed limit in a residential or school zone, or running a stop sign while also tailgating another vehicle. Aggressive careless driving carries elevated consequences, including additional points on your driver’s license, a suspension of your license, and potential jail time.


Reckless Driving in Florida

With reckless driving in Florida, this is a criminal offense that carries the potential for far more serious penalties than careless or aggressive careless driving. A reckless driver is defined as someone who displays a willful disregard of the safety of people and property on the road. An example of this would be speeding in an attempt to evade police, drag racing, or weaving at high speeds between vehicles. The consequences of reckless driving in Florida include:


  1. First-time offense is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, as well as a fine of up to $500.
  2. A second-time offense can result in 6-months of jail time, and a fine up to $1,000.
  3. Damage to another person or property can carry a first-degree misdemeanor charge, which results in 1-year of jail time, and up to $1,000 in fines.


Additionally, if you cause bodily injury or death to another, you can be convicted of a first-degree felony, which carries consequences of up to 5-years of jail time, and a $5,000 fine. You may also face a lawsuit for damages related to the incident.


Have You Been Injured In An Auto Accident With A Careless Driver?

If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, where you suspect the accident was caused by the negligence of the other driver, there are a few things you should do after seeking medical treatment.


  1. Make sure to document the date and time of the accident and where it took place, write down the insurance information of all drivers involved, and grab the make/model and license plate number of the other car involved. Take pictures of the accident scene and all damage done to the vehicles, and ask for a copy of the law enforcement report.
  2. Keep records of all expenses incurred that directly relate to the accident. This could be medical costs of treatment, transportation, or lost wages from missed work.


From here, contact our experienced team of attorneys, so that we can review the details of your case and determine if legal action is the best recourse, and we’ll advise you on the best path forward. We understand how traumatic auto accidents can be, which is why we take a comprehensive approach to our cases in order to obtain the most favorable outcome possible.