Legal Blog

The Difference Between Careless and Reckless Driving in New Jersey

Author Clark & Noonan, LLC
Posted June 16, 2017
Category Traffic Offenses in New Jersey

Wall New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys serving Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County and all surrounding NJ areas.

It may surprise you that careless driving and reckless driving are actually two separate offenses when it comes to traffic violations in New Jersey. There are certain factors that determine if you will be cited for one or the other. At the law offices of Clark & Noonan, LLC, we want you to understand the difference between these two offenses and your rights in the event you’ve been charged with either of these violations.

The main difference between these two offenses is that reckless driving can be considered a criminal offense, while careless driving is only a traffic violation. In many states, the two are considered the same offense under a reckless driving statute, but luckily, in New Jersey, the two are separate and if you are charged with careless driving it is considered a much less serious traffic violation.

Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you if you’ve been cited for either of these violations. It is within your rights to dispute any traffic or municipal offense and we can help protect your rights against either of these charges. Both of these violations carry with them fines, the potential for your license to be revoked, and even jail time. To understand what you can expect, the differences between careless and reckless driving and their fines are as follows:

Careless driving is when a person “carelessly, or without due caution and circumspection, in a manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property.”

  • Potential maximum 15 days in jail and/or $50 to $200 in fines, regardless of past convictions
  • Considered closer to negligence
  • Adds two points to driving record

Reckless driving is when you’ve been convicted of “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.”

  • First offense: Carries up to 60 in jail and/or $50 to $200 in fines
  • Repeat offense: Up to three months in jail and/or $100 to $500 in fines
  • Adds five points to driving record
  • Possible driver’s license suspension

The decision to charge you with careless or reckless driving is at the discretion of the police officer. But it is possible to have your charges dropped or lessened if you have the help of an experienced attorney who will fight on your behalf.

If you’ve been charged with reckless or careless driving, call Clark & Noonan, LLC today at 732-333-3011 today to schedule your consultation. We proudly serve those who live in and near the Jersey City, Freehold, Essex, Hudson, and Monmouth County, New Jersey areas.

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