Difference Between DWI and Reckless Driving
According to data provided by the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), approximately 26,500 people are convicted of DWI offenses in the state each year. Tens of thousands more are cited for reckless driving. In many cases, a defendant could face a DWI charge and a reckless driving charge at the same time.
In this blog post, our New Jersey DWI defense lawyer explains the key things you should know about the difference between an intoxicated driving charge and a reckless driving charge in New Jersey.
New Jersey State Statutes: Knowing the Laws for DWI and Reckless Driving
New Jersey has separate statutes for DWIs and reckless driving. A driver can be convicted of either (or both) of these violations if all elements of the charges are met.
Here is an overview of New Jersey state law on DWIs and reckless driving:
DWI Charges in New Jersey
Under New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50), a motorist commits a DWI offense operating a motor vehicle while unlawfully impaired. The legal blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) for DWIs is 0.08%, whether a driver is over the age of 21 or under the age of 21.
Additionally, a person could be charged with a DWI in New Jersey on the grounds of driving while under the influence of drugs, even if the person has a valid prescription for the drug, such as Xanax or Percocet.
In New Jersey, the penalties for a DWI conviction increase with each subsequent conviction. Additionally, a driver may face more serious penalties if they are driving while intoxicated and cause a motor vehicle accident resulting in property damage, personal injury, or death.
Reckless Driving in New Jersey
Under Jersey Law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-96), reckless driving is defined as operating a motor 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.” The offense carries five points on your license — meaning it could trigger a suspension of driving privileges for some drivers who have too many points on their driving history.
A judge may also suspend that person’s driving privileges based upon their manner of driving — for example, if by their driving they put others at risk of danger or injury. Still, the penalties for reckless driving are less severe than the penalties for drunk driving.
A Lawyer Can Help to Protect Your Rights, Your Driver’s License and Driving Privileges, and Your Future
In New Jersey, a DWI and reckless driving are two distinct offenses. You are not allowed to plea bargain a drunk driving charge down to reckless driving. A top DWI defense lawyer can help you determine the best course of action in your case.
If you were arrested for driving while intoxicated and/or charged with reckless driving in New Jersey, you need a competent and effective defense lawyer in your corner. With more than two and a half decades of criminal defense experience, New Jersey DWI attorney Matthew V. Portella will protect your rights, your future, and your freedom.
Contact Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney for Immediate Help
At the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, our New Jersey DWI defense lawyer will fight aggressively to protect your rights. If you’re facing a DWI charge and/or a reckless driving charge, we can help.
Contact us now to set up a confidential case evaluation. From our offices in Haddonfield and Pleasantville, Matthew Portella defends DWI and reckless driving charges throughout Southern New Jersey, including but not limited to Atlantic County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Gloucester County, and Salem County.