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2009 Florida Driving Laws & New Penalties

Reckless Driving & Running Red Lights

Many states are enacting new legislation in an effort to protect motorists and reduce the number of vehicle related fatalities. In an effort to make the roadways safer, Florida passed new legislation that became effective in October 2009. There are new consequences for the following violations:

First-time offenders that run a red light
Failing to stop for a school bus
Engage in reckless driving or racing upon the highway

Any individual who is found guilty of one of the above offenses will be required to take a driver improvement course. The state-approved course must be completed within 90 days and failure to do so will result in a loss of driving privileges. In addition, as of June 2009, the State of Florida considers it a primary offense when drivers fail to buckle up. This means that the police can pull over any driver who fails to wear a seat belt, regardless if they committed another offense or not.

Reckless Driving Conviction

Florida considers reckless driving a criminal traffic offense and it will be prosecuted by the State Attorney's office. The penalties can include up to 90 days in county jail and a fine of up to $500. Upon conviction, the offender will be assessed four points against their driver's license and they will have a record for a criminal misdemeanor. In order for the prosecution to obtain a conviction, they must be able to prove the following occurred:

The defendant intentionally fled from police in a motor vehicle
The driver willfully or wantonly disregarded the safety of others while operating their vehicle

Any aggravating factors will be taken into account when charging the defendant with the offense. For example, if serious bodily injury occurred to another person during the act, the defendant could be charged with a felony offense. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in state prison.

Consult a Florida Traffic Attorney For Help

While failing to stop for a school bus may only result in a fine, violators could have their license suspended for 90 days if they commit the same offense within a period of five years. Street racing carries much harsher penalties, including fines, vehicle impoundment, jail time, house arrest, community service and possible license suspension. When facing possible criminal conviction, it is best to be represented by a legal professional. Attorneys that specialize in driving laws can help defend your rights, possibly keeping you out of jail. If you have been arrested on a criminal traffic offense, contact a lawyer immediately.