Reckless driving is a serious traffic offense that rises above mere negligence or careless driving. A driver may face this charge for actions like deliberately ignoring traffic lights or blatantly going way over the speed limit. Essentially, reckless driving means that a person knows that their driving could hurt someone, yet they drive in a potentially dangerous manner anyway.
New Jersey has reckless driving laws on the books to protect other road users from drivers with “a willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others.” It’s important to note that charging someone with reckless driving is essentially a judgment call on the New Jersey police officer at the scene. While it often accompanies a DUI or accident, reckless driving can also be an independent charge.
In New Jersey, the term careless driving is used as a catchall to describe any unsafe operation of a motor vehicle that does not fit into existing traffic statutes. It is not as serious as reckless driving. But two points are assessed on your New Jersey license, and you may need to pay a fine of between $50 and $200.
Police officers in New Jersey have a lot of leeway when charging someone with careless driving. They can use careless driving anytime a person drives in an erratic manner, but their conduct doesn’t fit neatly in other traffic violations.
The core difference between being charged with reckless driving and careless driving is the intent of the driver. If a driver is charged with careless driving, they are unintentionally showing unsafe behavior. With reckless driving, the driver is showing a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others.
If you have been charged with careless driving, a lawyer could potentially help you plea down to a No Point ticket.
Although it may seem that negotiating a traffic ticket is something you can do on your own, it is recommended that you speak with a traffic attorney. An attorney is likely to get a better deal than what you could get on your own. If the charge is linked to an automobile accident, pleading guilty to an offense, even if the offense has been reduced, could be used against you if there is a civil lawsuit.
If you are found guilty of reckless driving, you will be assessed five points on your driver’s license. You may need to spend up to 60 days in jail. If it is your first conviction, you could face fines of between $50 and $200. Your driver’s license may be suspended if the judge thinks you are a hazard on the road.
A second conviction could mean three months in jail and fines from $100 to $500. Your license might be suspended for up to six months. While these penalties are not as harsh as those for DUI, reckless driving is still very serious.
It is always beneficial to hire an attorney if you need to defend yourself before a judge. Find an attorney who deals with traffic cases and knows the county where your case is pending. An attorney who is familiar with the county will know what the judge expects and could provide you with the best options for a good outcome. During the chaos of negotiating a plea, you do not have the knowledge or experience to know if you are getting the best deal. An attorney may help you fight the ticket you were given.
For a reckless driving charge to stick, a prosecutor has to prove that the offender had a heedless and wanton disregard for the safety of others when driving. The prosecutor has to prove without a reasonable doubt that your state of mind was such that you did not care about the danger and potential damage caused by the way you were driving.
Reckless driving is a serious offense. However, our experienced traffic lawyers can prepare and provide the best defense you’ll find in New Jersey. Contact our team at Shugar Law today for a free consultation.
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