Defending Accompanying Charge of Reckless Driving in DUI Trial
According to Broward DUI Lawyer William Moore, any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property may be found guilty of reckless driving by a jury in Florida.
Moore disagrees that jurors need to have something to convict a DUI defendant of like Reckless Driving in order to vote NOT-GUILTY on the primary Drunk Driving charge.
The Criminal Offense of Reckless Driving
The key elements of this criminal offense that must be established in order to bring a prima facia case are:
- 1.The Defendant was Driving
- 2.The Defendant was Operating the Vehicle in Such a Manner as to Intentionally Disregard the Safety of Others (or property).
Often Accompanies DUI Arrest in Broward County Florida
DUI Lawyers see this charge added as a second criminal count to the primary charge of Drunk Driving in Broward County where the driving pattern involves excessive swerving or speeding of over 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Understanding the biases of the average jury in South Florida, this offense is viewed as significantly challenging by Criminal Defense Attorneys due to the life experiences of the average South Floridian.
Juror Experiences with Drunk or Reckless Drivers
The fact is that residents of South Florida, especially Broward County are statistically more likely to have experienced an encounter with an impaired and/or reckless driver than in other parts of Florida. According to DUI Lawyers like William Moore. This increase in likelihood can be as high as 400% more likely than in other Florida Counties. In fact Fort Lauderdale has been increasingly referred to nationally as Fort Liquordale over the past decade according to a recent report on location and business stereotypes nationwide.
Defense Often Neglected
This is not to say that the charge of reckless driving lacks defenses. To the contrary, claims Moore. Most criminal lawyers look at reckless driving as being a tool to assist in their defense to the primary charge of DUI. Criminal lawyers who may not be as proficient in the complexities of defending Drunk Driving cases rationalize that admitting to the second count of reckless driving by the DUI client serves to afford jurors sitting in judgment on the case an opportunity to compromise. DUI investigators in and for Broward County routinely exaggerate the signs of impairment. This leaves jurors unsettled when they hear testimony and then see a video of the accused which depicts less impairment than he or she was led to believe by the prosecutions witnesses who are almost always police officers. Sympathy and accountability to a well educated jury will more often than not leave the finders of fact less likely to convict.
Don't Offer Compromise in Trial of DUI with Reckless Driving Count
Moore disagrees that jurors need to have something to convict a DUI defendant of like Reckless Driving in order to vote NOT-GUILTY on the primary Drunk Driving charge. He backs this up by arguing that most people fear a pre-disposed and over-reaching law enforcement officer more-so than an impaired driver. If the roadside video fails to adequately match up to what the authenticating DUI investigator testified to earlier, a well argued closing by the defense can appropriately convince law abiding jurors that this is reasonable doubt. There is no need to concede to the second count. The statute is somewhat vague and should be considered advantageous rather than hopeless. More importantly, a conviction for Reckless Driving in the jurisdiction of Broward County, Florida will result in jail time for the client regardless of a not guilty vote for the primary DUI count. The court will sentence harshly where is appears that an accused has avoided conviction for the primary driving under the influence charge. You have to win both counts. Never concede to a criminal count. Reckless Driving Charges are actually quite defendable. Jurors are smart. If the defendant was speeding than an infraction is warranted rather than a criminal conviction followed by a jail sentence. Remember, the second element:
[ The Defendant was Operating the Vehicle in Such a Manner as to Intentionally Disregard the Safety of Others or property ]
The first thing that I look for on these cases where there is a video of the driving pattern of the defendant is indicator lights. How can a defendant be in wanton disregard of another’s safety when they are signaling. -Moore