Driving Offenses in Miami
Before the change in legislation, fleeing and eluding was considered much less serious than it is now. The sentence of up to a year in the county jail was rarely imposed; more likely, the offender received probation or community service. Now, however, fleeing a police officer or eluding arrest in a motor vehicle are serious criminal driving offenses in Miami. Ranging from third to first degree felonies, fleeing-and-eluding crimes involve refusing to stop your vehicle on a public road when a police officer directs you to pull over with flashing lights. A first-degree offense occurs when a serious injury or death results from fleeing and eluding a police officer; this crime carries a mandatory three-year sentence. A second-degree offense results when a driver flees without regard to the safety of person or property. Second-degree convictions result in an automatic 2-year license suspension; a 5-year license suspension is included in any sentence for a fleeing and eluding crime in which a person is injured or killed. Additionally, anyone convicted of fleeing and eluding will be adjudicated, which translates to a criminal record as a felon.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident
If you are a driver involved in an accident where injuries or death have occurred, leaving the scene is one of the most serious criminal driving offenses in Miami. A third-degree charge results from leaving the scene of an injury accident, and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. A first-degree charge is the result of leaving the scene of an accident where a death has occurred and is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Any time you are a driver involved in an accident, especially one with injuries or a death, you must stay at the scene to give your identifying information to the injured and to the police officer investigating the accident.
Vehicular homicide is a second degree felony and is charged when a death is caused by reckless driving.
Racing on the Highway
Due to the number of cars on the city’s streets and highways, one of the more common Miami driving offenses is racing on a public road. This includes drag racing, speed contests and exhibiting high speeds for the purpose of racing on a road, highway or parking lot. Drag racing means two cars start out at the same point and drive at high rates of speed in order to outdistance one another. A first-degree misdemeanor, this offense is punishable by up to one year in jail. Additionally, this crime results in an automatic one-year license suspension for the first offense and a two-year suspension for the second offense. Anyone who coordinates or participates knowingly in a race, such as a passenger or a person who takes money from spectators, can be charged with this offense.
Driving with a Suspended License
Knowingly driving under a suspended, cancelled or revoked driver’s license is a first-degree misdemeanor, while doing so unknowingly is considered a civil infraction. If a notice was provided by the Department of Safety and Motor Vehicles at any point, the offense will be considered knowingly driving under a suspended license.
Wantonly and willfully driving in a way that puts people or property in danger is considered reckless driving. Willful means purposely, and wanton means knowing that your actions could cause injury to a person or damage to property. Speeding isn’t enough to get a reckless driving charge; rather, it is considered a civil offense. Reckless driving is a first degree misdemeanor that can land you up to a year in jail.
Habitual Traffic Offender
A third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, driving as a habitual traffic offender is a serious driving offense in the state of Florida. A habitual traffic offender is anyone who has had three or more convictions for driving with a suspended license. In the case of a habitual traffic offender, it doesn’t matter whether the offender was driving knowingly or unknowingly with a suspended license.