Careless Driving in New Jersey

Careless driving and reckless driving are often confused traffic offenses that carry vastly different sentences. The biggest difference between the two is intention. 

Unlike reckless driving which is a willful violation of the traffic laws, careless driving involves operating “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” without the intent to break the law, according to N.J.S.A. 39:4-97

The Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC and our experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney is here for you. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and understand your legal options. 

What constitutes careless driving?

Careless driving is an all-encompassing term used to describe unintentional and unsafe driving practices that can lead to a collision. Because of this broad definition, drivers can be accused of careless driving for a wide variety of mistakes, including:

  • Traveling into the wrong lane of traffic
  • Failing to yield to traffic with the right of way
  • Traveling at an unreasonable speed

Consequences of Careless Driving

Careless driving tickets are commonly issued to drivers who are believed to be at fault in a motor vehicle accident. A careless driving ticket carries two points on your driving record. Points can accumulate and have significant consequences such as suspended or revoked driving privileges and monetary surcharges. 

In New Jersey, drivers who accumulate 6 or more points over 3 years incur a $150 surcharge with an additional $25 per point over 6 points. Those who receive 12 or more points receive in the mail a notice of scheduled suspension of their driving privileges from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

In addition to the points on driving records, drivers who are issued a careless driving ticket also face a fine of $50-$200, a jail sentence of up to 15 days, and court fees of $33 for court costs and $6 for assessment fees if convicted. Drivers who are suspected of careless driving within a designated construction zone or on a roadway with a speed limit of 65 miles per hour or more face fines of $100-$400. 

Repeat offenders may also be required to fulfill community service requirements.  Also, a conviction for careless driving can be used in a civil court lawsuit to prove that the person was at fault for causing the accident.  Insurance companies may also raise a driver’s rates for a careless driving conviction. 

Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer

The prosecution bears the burden of proof in a careless driving case, meaning it is the prosecutor’s responsibility to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you drove carelessly. Contrary to popular belief, the presence of an accident is not enough to constitute a careless driving conviction. 

If you were ticketed for careless driving, contact the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC to speak with our experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney. With over 25 years of experience, we have a lengthy history of defending the rights of New Jersey drivers. Call (856) 245-5913 today to schedule a free consultation. 

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