What Is the Difference Between a DUI and Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving and driving under the influence (DUI) are considered two of the most serious traffic offenses in the state of New Jersey. While separate, these two offenses have a lot in common, so much so that some states classify them in the same spectrum. In New Jersey, however, there are distinct differences between a DUI and reckless driving, and a defendant may be held liable for a conviction for one or both, depending on their behavior.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a DUI or reckless driving in New Jersey, it would be best to consult a Hudson County Personal Injury Attorney to learn about your right to compensation.
DUI-Related Car Accidents
In the United States, over 17,000 fatalities are recorded every year due to intoxicated driving accidents. The victims include all road users, from drunk drivers themselves to other motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, and passengers. From these accidents, over 500,000 injuries are incurred.
Reckless Driving Vs. Drunk Driving
Reckless driving is driving in a way that places other road users or property in danger. It is defined under statute N.J.S.A & 39:4-96, which explains that reckless driving may also include the aspect of willing and wanton disregard for the rights and safety of other road users.
Drunk driving, on the other hand, is defined under N.J.S.A. § 39:4-50 as operating a motor vehicle or boat with a blood alcohol content level of above .08 or while under the influence of a Schedule 1 drug like heroin. While some drunken driving incidents may fit into the loose definition of reckless driving, they are often prosecuted as DWIs.
In some cases, a defendant may be charged with both reckless driving and drunk driving. This includes situations where there were added elements to a DWI such as:
- Failure to adhere to traffic lights and signs
- Driving past speed limits
- Running a red light
- Excessive swerving
- Drowsy driving
Another scenario where a prosecutor may charge a DWI alongside a reckless driving charge is when they cannot prove drunk driving beyond doubt. That said, reckless driving is not easy to prove in court, and most prosecutors will only bring a DWI charge.
Reckless Driving Charges in New Jersey
It is common practice for prosecutors to offer defendants a plea deal in criminal cases, where the latter agrees to plead guilty to one offense or a lesser charge of either offense. DWI or DUI charges are plea-bargained down to reckless driving in many states, which carries less stiff penalties.
In New Jersey, however, prosecutors are expressly not allowed to do this, and most judges will bar such bargains from their court. This means that many DWI and DUI charges remain so and cannot be reduced to reckless driving.
Talk to a Hudson County Personal Injury Attorney
DUI and reckless driving have resulted in countless injuries and deaths in the United States. Understanding the difference between them can give you a clearer view of your rights and legal options. Additionally, it will inform you how a Hudson County Personal Injury Attorney may help you.
With an experience of over three decades, Anthony Carbone is conversant with the effects of these reckless driving and drunk driving on victims and families. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today online or at 201-829-3805 to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about this matter.