Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses
Two Degrees of Misdemeanors
There are two types of misdemeanors in Florida: a first degree misdemeanor and a second degree misdemeanor. Second degree misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500, whereas a first degree misdemeanor can result in up to a one year jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. However, depending on the charges against you, the fines and other penalties on top of the misdemeanor offense may end up being much higher. For example, a first time DUI has a minimum $500 fine and a maximum $1,000 fine, despite a first time DUI being a second degree misdemeanor.
Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses
The following is an incomplete list of different first and second degree misdemeanors in Florida. A slight variation in many of these and other traffic offenses can result in a felony.
- Fleeing the Scene / Leaving the Scene of an Accident (Without Serious Bodily Injury or Death)—Fleeing the scene of a traffic collision (hit and run) is a first degree misdemeanor when no one is hurt or killed. If anyone is injured or killed, the offense is increased to a felony.
- Reckless Driving Causing Property Damage—Reckless driving is classified as driving in a manner of “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Reckless driving by itself can result in 90 days in jail for a first offense or six months in jail for a second offense. If a defendant causes property damage due to reckless driving, the offense is enhanced to a first degree misdemeanor under Florida statute 316.192.
- First DUI—A first (Driving Under the Influence) is generally charged as a second degree misdemeanor. However, if the defendant had a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.15 or greater, the maximum jail sentence is enhanced to nine months.
- DUI With Child Occupant or Property Damage—A DUI that results in property damage, or if the DUI driver had a child in the car with them, is a first degree misdemeanor, under Florida statute 316.193.
- Second DUI—A driver who commits a second DUI will be punished with a first degree misdemeanor.
- Driving With a Suspended License (First Offense)—If the driver had knowledge that their license was revoked, suspended, or cancelled, the penalty is a second degree misdemeanor.
- Driving With a Suspended License (Second Offense)—A second offense is a first degree misdemeanor.
- Refusal to Submit to DUI Test—Refusing to submit to a DUI field sobriety test is an automatic first degree misdemeanor, whether you were intoxicated or not. As such, the penalty for refusal to submit is actually higher than a first time DUI offense.
Call a Port St. Lucie Misdemeanor Traffic Defense Lawyer
Traffic offenses vary widely in severity from a small fine all the way to first degree felonies. A misdemeanor offense can result in serious fines, jail time, an impounded vehicle, a mandatory ignition interlock system, a revoked license, community service, and the loss of your career and esteemed position in your community. A misdemeanor is a serious offense and can follow you for the rest of your life. As such, your case must be handled by a qualified attorney. For help today, call the Port St. Lucie criminal lawyers at Baginski Brandt & Brandt at 772-466-0707 to schedule a free consultation.