So you got a ticket for careless driving. What now? Most of the time this type of ticket stems from an accident and seems to be the go-to ticket that police officers write the party who they suspect was more at fault for the accident. This type of ticket can raise your insurance rates on top of the 4 points that get added to your driving record and the typically $163 fine. The fine is not the worst part, it’s the potential increase in insurance costs that can add up to hundreds if not thousands over the years.
Florida statute 316.1925(1) defines careless driving as the failure to drive “in a careful and prudent manner” and thereby endangering “the life, limb, or property of any person.’ It means that when driving you are supposed to pay attention to “the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances.”
It is definitely worth it to fight a careless driving ticket even if you think you may be at fault in the accident. Don’t just pay the ticket. If you end up paying the ticket, even if you pay the ticket and take the driving school to avoid points, you are admitting guilt. This admission of guilt can now put you at risk for being sued by the other driver for the damages of the accident and possibly any type of injuries or other losses, such as a loss of wages for not being able to work, that the other driver may claim.
Most of the time the police officer who wrote the ticket did not actually see the accident. That means that he or she has no personal knowledge of what actually happened and he or she is simply going by what he was told by either you, the other driver or witnesses. This also means that in court the officer is not able to testify to what actually happened. In court the judge’s decision will not be based on the police officer’s testimony but it will be based on what you and the other driver and potential witnesses actually saw. The other driver has to say certain things in order for the judge to find you guilty. This means that an experienced careless driving ticket attorney can help you mount a successful defense.
There are several defenses to careless driving under Florida law.
In court it is up to the other side to prove that you were driving the car. Many times when the police officer arrives at the scene of an accident, the driver/drivers of the car or cars involved in the accident are already outside their car and therefore the officer cannot place anybody behind the wheel based on his observations. The officer often times makes the determination on who is driving based on statements by you and the other driver. However, even if you admit to driving the car, all is not lost. An experienced traffic ticket attorney may be able to exclude certain things from being admitted as evidence in court based on Florida statutes.
Even if it is clear that you were the one driving the car and it appears as though you may have caused the accident, for example because you swerved, you may still not be guilty of careless driving. There are many other factors that can lead to you getting a ticket for careless driving even though you are not guilty. These situations may include:
A mechanical defect that caused your car to malfunction
Your mechanic was negligent in fixing your car and that caused your car to malfunction • Inclement weather was the cause of the accident and you could have done nothing to avoid it
You had to take evasive action in order to avoid a bigger road hazard
Kerstin Wade is an experienced Tampa traffic ticket attorney and has successfully defended hundreds of drivers against careless driving tickets even if the situation may have seemed hopeless at first. If you get a careless driving ticket, call us immediately at 813-401-0130 for a free consultation.