Most of America was shocked to see images of golf legend Tiger Woods’ damaged SUV rolled over at the bottom of a small hill. This wasn’t the first time Woods and a roadside incident made the news, and after people realized that Woods would survive, many wondered how this incident would impact him legally.
Investigators revealed that on the morning of February 23, 2021, Woods approached a curve in the road at a high speed. The data reporter in his 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV shows he may have hit the accelerator instead of the brake and collided with a tree going an estimated 75 mph.
Prior to the collision, Woods was going as fast as 87 mph, more than 45 mph over the legal speed limit, and investigators say the accident was caused by Woods driving in an unsafe manner, according to reporting by CNBC.
So, what does that mean for Woods?
Considering Tiger Woods’ Past Roadside Incidents
The February 2021 accident is the third time Woods has been in the news for incidents that occurred with him behind the wheel.
The first incident occurred in 2009 when Woods hit a fire hydrant outside of his driveway in Orlando, Florida. The incident was the first in a series of scandals related to Woods’ extramarital affairs. It is believed that he wrecked the vehicle after an argument with his wife.
In that case, Woods was issued a traffic citation for careless driving and a fine of $164.
In May 2017, Woods faced more serious charges. Officers found him asleep at the wheel of his running car. The car had minor damage to the tires and bumper, and Woods appeared to be impaired.
In that case, Woods was charged with driving under the influence (for the use of medication, not alcohol), and he pled guilty to a reckless driving misdemeanor as part of a first-time DUI offender program. He was required to submit random drug and alcohol testing, and his license was suspended for ten days, as reported by the Sun Sentinel.
Both previous incidents were in Florida. His recent accident occurred in California and will follow California law.
Potential Charges for Tiger Woods
Per the details of Tiger Woods’ accident, three categories could result in legal ramifications. Let’s look at if Woods will face charges in California and what it might mean if his accident had happened in Florida.
In Florida, driving 50 or more mph over the speed limit can be charged as a felony. It can lead to fines, court fees, and a license suspension. Subsequent offenses come with larger fines and longer suspensions.
- 1st offense: $1,000 fine
- 2nd offense: $2,500 fine and one-year license suspension
- 3rd offense: $5,000 fine and ten-year license suspension
Consequences are higher if someone is injured during the incident, if it occurred in a school or construction zone, or if someone was driving under the influence.
Reports say that Woods was driving 45 mph over the speed limit, just shy of what would constitute felony speeding in Florida.
While the data reported in his vehicle shows that he was well over the speed limit, Woods did not receive a fine or charge for speeding.
Florida law defines reckless driving as driving a motor vehicle “with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” The driver knows their driving could harm people or property, and they do it anyway.
Reckless driving is more severe than a careless driving charge which refers to unsafe driving that may be committed unintentionally. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor charge, but it can come with heavy consequences.
- 1st offense: $500 fine and/or up to 90 days in jail
- 2nd offense: $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail
- 3rd offense: $5,000 fine and/or up to five years in jail
Consequences are higher if someone is injured or property is damaged during the incident.
Woods pled guilty to reckless driving after his DUI charge in Florida in May of 2017. If the recent accident occured in Florida and Woods was charged with reckless driving, he could have faced fines and up to six months in jail.
Woods did not face any reckless driving charges for the accident in California. Despite his high speed, investigators said they had no proof that he was driving recklessly before the accident.
Driving While Intoxicated
In Florida, drivers can be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) can carry the same serious charges as a DUI.
The severity of consequences increases for repeat offenses and if persons or property are injured during the incident. DUI charges may include:
- Jail time
- License suspension
- Potential civil charges if someone is injured
Because Woods pled to a lesser charge for his first DUI, his previous charge may not have impacted this accident. It might have been considered a first offense DUI if drugs or alcohol were involved.
But, investigators said there was no evidence that Woods was impaired or intoxicated in the 2021 accident. Because there were no open containers or signs of narcotics in the car, they did not receive a search warrant to test Woods’ blood for intoxicants. Woods was not charged for driving under the influence.
No Charges for Tiger Woods
As of now, it appears that Woods will not receive any legal consequences as a result of his accident on February 23, 2021. He was not charged with criminal speeding, reckless driving, or driving while intoxicated.
Have you been in a roadside incident and are wondering if you will face charges?