careless driving in New Jersey

Getting a ticket for careless driving in New Jersey can be frustrating. With penalties including fines, license points, and even driver’s license suspension, a careless driving conviction is a financial burden. However, with the help of a careless driving attorney in New Jersey, you can build a strong defense against your ticket. With the right legal aid, you can have your penalties reduced or even have your entire case dismissed. An attorney will help you navigate the legal proceedings following a careless driving ticket charge and explain your options for fighting it.

What is Careless Driving in New Jersey?

According to New Jersey Law Section 39:4-97, careless driving is defined as: “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.” Careless driving is similar to negligent driving. Actions that could be considered careless driving include:

  • Aggressive driving
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Honking excessively
  • Driving while using a handheld cell phone

Careless driving differs from reckless driving when it comes to intent. Reckless driving charges are much more serious because they include a willful disregard for the safety of others. Careless driving, on the other hand, is a lack of caution for the safety of others. More often than not, it’s associated with motor vehicle accidents where the driver is found at fault, as well as speeding tickets. 

The differences between a careless driving charge and a reckless driving charge can be minute and depend greatly on the situation at hand.

What are the Penalties for Careless Driving in New Jersey?

Careless driving tickets are all handled differently depending on the reason for the ticket and any other associated charges. Penalties for careless driving tickets include:

  • Fines up to $200
  • Two or more points on a driver’s license
  • Up to 15 days in jail

Most careless driving tickets do not include jail time. However, certain extreme cases can result in jail time. Additional court fees and penalties could also apply if there are other charges associated with the careless driving ticket. It’s also possible that a careless driving charge could result in the suspension of a driver’s license if the awarded points put that license over the 12-point limit.

Defenses for Careless Driving Tickets in New Jersey

Getting a careless driving ticket doesn’t mean having to suffer all of the consequences. With a solid defense, many of the penalties can be reduced or the charges even dropped. Working with a careless driving lawyer can help you understand the charges you face and how to strategically combat them.

Plea Bargain

Everyone makes mistakes, and that isn’t always a reflection of who they are as a driver. For drivers facing their first driving offense, a plea bargain may be used to reduce the penalties. By pleading guilty to the charges and making a deal with the judge, many first-time offenders can avoid the heftier penalties of their ticket, such as driver’s license points and jail time. While surcharges and fees will likely still apply, the burden is certainly lessened. 

When making a plea bargain, the driver should discuss their case first with their attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to ensure the best outcome for the plea bargain and can negotiate with the judge to secure a favorable ruling. Your attorney may also notice something in your case that could help you get the charge dismissed altogether. Pleading guilty when there’s a chance to fight your charges can put an unnecessary financial strain on you and your family.

careless driving in New Jersey
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Extenuating Circumstances

Looking at the circumstances behind a careless driving ticket in New Jersey is key to fighting it. Why someone performed an action is just as important as the results of the action. There are a few cases where the situation a driver was in could help lessen the penalties of their careless driving charge:

State Laws – Many states have varying laws when it comes to traffic rules and regulations. For example, while most states have a ban on using handheld cell phones, not all states do. A driver who is charged with careless driving in New Jersey for using a cell phone may be able to lessen their penalties if they just moved from a state that allowed it and they were unaware of the law.

Emergency Situations – Sometimes, breaking the law is necessary to handle an emergency situation. For example, if someone has to drive a friend or family member to the hospital because they injured themselves, it may be necessary for them to use their cell phone. This is to contact the hospital ahead of time to alert them to the situation.

Attorney for Careless Driving in New Jersey

If you face penalties for a careless driving ticket, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Attorney Leon Matchin has devoted his practice to building strong defenses for his clients. Whether you face a careless driving ticket, reckless driving charge, or any other traffic violation, Attorney Matchin is here to help. His years of experience dealing with the laws of careless driving in New Jersey help him understand a charge from every angle. They also help him devise the best strategy to fight it. If you need help fighting a careless driving charge in New Jersey, contact Attorney Matchin today at (833) 732-7320. You can also email him at [email protected] for a consultation about your case.