Careless driving is one of the most common motor vehicle violations that are charged in New Jersey. This is mainly because the statute definition is so broad that it can be applied to almost any situation that would arise to a motor vehicle violation. However, an experienced defense attorney can often use this to your advantage by cleverly amending the careless driving to another violation that doesn’t carry points and or has a lower fine. Founding attorney, Will Proetta has successfully represents clients for thousands of municipal court and traffic tickets including careless driving charges. We represent clients throughout New Jersey including Union Twp, Rahway, Linden, Elizabeth, Westfield, Scotch Plains, Springfield, Garwood, and Cranford. Contact us at (908) 838-0150 for a free initial consultation with an experienced municipal court lawyer. We have representatives available 24/7 to answer your calls.
New Jersey Careless Driving Statute
In New Jersey careless driving is regulated by statute 39:4-97 which has been provided below, in pertinent part, for your convenience.
“A person who drives a vehicle carelessly, or without due caution and circumspection, in a manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property, shall be guilty of careless driving.”
It should be noted that the language of the statute is very similar to the more severe New Jersey statute for Reckless Driving. However, the difference between the these statutes is usually how serious the offense was, the danger created, and whether the defendant acted intentionally or with a reckless disregard. For instance, careless driving will often be charged when there is a minor car accident, running a stop sign, or turning on a red light. In contrast, reckless driving is normally charged where the defendant is travelling at extreme excessive speeds, weaving in and out of traffic, or even driving while intoxicated. These actions are more extreme and create a greater chance of injury, death, or property damage. Therefore, New Jersey distinguishes these similar statutes based on the points that are allocated – Careless Driving (2) points vs. Reckless Driving (5) points.
Penalties for Careless Driving
If you are found guilty or plead guilty to careless driving it will be on your permanent driver abstract. This document is used by the DMV, insurance companies, and the court to track your history and assess what actions may be appropriate. For instance, car insurance companies will increase your insurance rates based on the traffic violation convictions and points you have accumulated. Moreover, the New Jersey DMV will assess two (2) points to your record for a careless driving conviction. These points do not expire easily and can quickly add up causing you a lot of trouble if you are not careful. If you get a total of six points on your record during a three-year period, you will be fined an additional $150, plus $25 for each point above six. More importantly, if you get 12 points on your record at any time, your license will be administratively suspended by the DMV. The only way to get points off your record is to continuously maintain a good driving record and you will have three (3) points subtracted from your total every year you go without a traffic violation. A conviction for careless driving also includes fines and court costs and these fines will be doubled if the offense happened in a safe corridor, a construction zone, or a 65-mile-per-hour area.
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