The Difference Between Reckless and Careless Driving

Posted October 15th, 2015 by .

Categories: Criminal Defense.

Motor vehicle offenses reckless vs carless driving anthony carboneReckless and careless driving may seem to be the same thing to the average driver.  However, not only are the charges for these motor vehicle offenses different, but they also do not carry the same penalties.  Learn here about reckless driving v. careless driving.

Reckless Driving

The exact language of the law regarding reckless driving is found in NJSA 39:4-96.  It states that a person is guilty of reckless driving if they drive a vehicle “heedlessly, in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others, in a manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property”.

What are some examples of reckless driving?  You might be accused of reckless driving if you blew through a red light travelling in excess of even highway speed.  Your reckless driving ticket may be one of many charges.  For example, you could conceivably be charged with reckless driving, while also receiving a DWI ticket.

Reckless driving charges are serious ones.  They require a court appearance.  The penalties for reckless driving could mean jail time, substantial fines or both.  Subsequent convictions carry harsher penalties.  According to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Traffic Points Schedule, reckless driving constitutes five points.  There is also the prospect of insurance points and surcharges.

Careless Driving

Careless driving is considered a lesser motor vehicle offense than reckless driving.  According to NJSA 39:4-97, a driver can be found guilty of careless driving for “carelessly, or without due caution and circumspection, in a manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property.”

So, how does this careless driving differ from reckless driving?  Intent is a prominent factor.  Someone who drives recklessly is presumed to have done so willfully.  Reckless driving implies that the action was deliberate.  Perhaps it was the officer’s contention that it was careless for you to tailgate the car in front of you.  However, it might not be reckless.

The penalties for careless driving are less than for reckless driving convictions.  For one, the statute does not require incarceration, although fines are certainly a consideration.  Motor vehicle points for careless driving convictions are lower, at just two points.

Contact Us

At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we recognize the challenges faced by individuals charged with motor vehicle offenses.  Tickets for reckless driving and careless driving can be costly have long term effects.  We evaluate the circumstances of the tickets and work with the local authorities regarding pursuit of their action against you.  Call us for an appointment to discuss your legal options.

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