NJ careless driving

Driving in New Jersey is considered a privilege, not a right. And part of being able to have that privilege is agreeing to follow proper safety techniques when driving. Acts of careless driving often lead to accidents, so if the police pull you over for such actions, you’ll often end up with a ticket. A NJ careless driving ticket can be frustrating to deal with. But with the help of a NJ attorney, you can better understand your charges and build a defense for your case.

Actions Leading to NJ Careless Driving Tickets

New Jersey Law Section 39:4-97 defines a careless driver 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.” In most cases, careless driving is often associated with speeding tickets and most motor accidents. Other acts of careless driving include:

  • Aggressive driving
  • Weaving between traffic lanes
  • Excessive honking
  • Using a handheld mobile device while driving
  • Tailgating
  • Sudden braking

If you are found to be driving carelessly in New Jersey, you will likely be pulled over and issued a NJ careless driving ticket.

Careless Driving vs. Reckless Driving

When a police officer issues a ticket after a traffic incident, they’ll use their judgment to determine whether the driver was being careless or reckless. These judgments aren’t always accurate, and many drivers end up with a reckless driving ticket when they were only carelessly driving. The difference between the two comes down to the motivations behind the actions.

An act of reckless driving is the willful disregard for the safety of others, whereas careless driving is the lack of caution for the safety of others. There is a fine line between the two, and having a NJ traffic attorney on your side during a case can help make a difference in which traffic ticket you’re officially charged with. Typically, a reckless driving ticket is issued when there are multiple cases of careless driving actions strung together. For example, a simple act of weaving in and out of traffic alone is not grounds for a reckless driving ticket. But if the driver was also speeding and honking excessively, then they could face a higher charge.

NJ careless driving

Penalties for NJ Careless Driving Tickets

Getting a ticket for careless driving in New Jersey often comes with some sizable consequences. The penalties aren’t as harsh as those for reckless driving. However, they can quickly become a nuisance and may even lead to license suspension. NJSA 39:4-97 details the full list of penalties for careless driving. While the specifics will change on a case-by-case basis, you can expect to face up to $200 in fines (not including court fees and surcharges). You can also anticipate at least two points on your driver’s license, and up to 15 days in jail. 

Outside of the financial burden the ticket alone causes, you’ll also likely face other troubles as well. For example, your insurance premium is likely to rise, and you may even lose your policy altogether. You may also face additional charges and tickets if your careless driving led to an accident or other traffic violation.

Defending Against a NJ Careless Driving Ticket

Just because you got a careless driving ticket doesn’t mean you have to suffer all the penalties for it. With the help of an attorney, you may be able to reduce your charges or get them dropped completely. Working with your lawyer can help you avoid financial burdens and potential jail time. There are two main ways to accomplish this.

Plea Bargain

A plea bargain is often offered to first-time offenders. Because the goal is to prevent future accidents, judges are more likely to lower penalties for those who admit to their mistakes and make an effort to drive more safely in the future. A plea bargain is a great way to reduce fines and avoid license points and jail time if you were truly at fault for a careless driving incident. 

However, there are many cases where the NJ careless driving ticket charges won’t stand up. Careless driving is charged when a driver acts carelessly without reason. As such, there are instances where the charges can be dropped entirely.

Extenuating Circumstances

Traffic laws can be difficult to navigate. But if you take the time to consider each case and situation, you can successfully defend against a careless driving ticket. Certain extenuating circumstances will negate the charges of a careless driving offense. For example, in an emergency situation, someone may need to take ‘careless’ actions to avoid larger accidents. One may brake suddenly, which is a careless driving act, to avoid hitting someone who ran out into the street. This driver could argue that their action was taken with due reason, thus having their case dismissed.

A driver can also defend against a careless driving ticket based on the specific laws they were breaking at the time. For instance, not all states have officially banned handheld cellphone use while driving. If a charged driver recently moved to New Jersey from a state that allowed cellphone use, they may be unaware of the new law. Thus they may be able to avoid the initial charge for using one.

Get Help with a NJ Careless Driving Ticket

If you face a NJ careless driving ticket, you don’t have to face it alone. Attorney Leon Matchin is here to help. His years of experience dealing with New Jersey traffic laws allow him to defend his clients successfully. He can help you navigate court proceedings. If you have been charged with a NJ careless driving ticket, call Attorney Matchin today at 732-887-2479 or email him at [email protected] to get started on your defense.