Reckless driving is defined as driving “in wilful or wanton disregard of the rights and safety of others.” This charge is far more extreme than merely accidentally going 10 miles over the speed limit. If you have been charged with reckless driving, you will need the help of a New Jersey attorney, like Leon Matchin. He has years of experience working on reckless driving cases. The goal is always to have charges dropped or downgraded to a less severe charge to hopefully avoid some of the harsher penalties, like jail time. The aftermath of a reckless driving charge can be scary. Between the potential of a criminal charge and harsh consequences, the driver may be unsure what the next steps are. Contact an attorney right away to discuss the details of your case.
Reckless Driving Charges & Penalties
Reckless driving is defined by New Jersey law section 39:4-96: “A person who drives a 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, shall be guilty of reckless driving and be punished…”
The keywords here are “in willful or wanton disregard.” Someone who receives a reckless driving charge is driving in a way that is purposefully dangerous and can seriously risk the lives of others. Whether this is excessive speeding or maniacally weaving in and out of traffic, a reckless driving charge comes with harsh penalties.
A reckless driving penalty depends on whether it’s a first or subsequent offense. A first offense comes with consequences, including jail time in the county or municipal jail for up to 60 days, fines between $50-$200, or both fines and jail time. If it is a second, third, or fourth offense or higher, the driver will be put in jail for up to 3 months, or owe fines between $100-$500, or go to jail and owe the fines.
How a New Jersey Attorney Can Help
Reckless driving penalties can be very damaging to the defendant. Jail time can cause them to lose their job. Also, the fines may be a financial strain. Your attorney’s goal will always be to have your charges completely dropped. If that’s not possible, your attorney will work to get the charges dropped to a traffic violation that doesn’t include jail time. As you search for an attorney, there are several things to look out for:
- Experience: An attorney with many years of experience is a good pick. Someone who has been defending others for a long time will have a vast knowledge of New Jersey law and which defenses to use.
- Reviews: The next thing to check out is client reviews about the attorney. Look for reviews on third-party sites like Google, Yelp, etc. There will always be some negative reviews, but the majority of reviews should be positive. In addition, look for an attorney who has a lot of reviews. An attorney with 30 reviews and an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars is probably a much better choice than an attorney with just one 5-star review.
- Initial Meeting: You can tell a lot about an attorney from your initial meeting with them. Look for essential qualities like good listening skills and a willingness to be creative in working on your case. Also, look for someone you think has good communication skills. You should always stay up-to-date on all the nuances of your case so that you know what is going on. You should never be left in the dark when it comes to progress on the case. Remember, you are not tied to an attorney just because you had a meeting with them. If you feel they aren’t a good match, move on and find someone else. It is vital to find a New Jersey attorney that you can trust with your case.
Potential Reckless Driving Defenses
Your attorney can use a few different defenses in your reckless driving case. First, it must be proved that the reckless driving was willful. In cases of emergencies, such as driving someone to a hospital, reckless driving might occur. However, it certainly isn’t willful or wanton disregard.
Another defense is that there wasn’t proper signage on the road so you weren’t aware of the speed limit. Also, did the officer actually measure your speed? Was their radar gun properly working?
Your attorney can use all of these factors in court. They can help have charges dismissed or at least downgraded. As you work with your attorney, it is important to share with them all the details of the situation (i.e. the stretch of road you were driving on, why you were out driving, what happened when you got pulled over, etc.) By having all the facts and details, your attorney will be able to create the best defense possible for your case.
Contact a New Jersey Attorney for Reckless Driving Charges
Reckless driving is far beyond going 10 miles over the speed limit or accidentally rolling through a stop sign. This type of driving is dangerous and putting other people’s lives at risk. As a result, penalties are harsh, including jail time and fines. With the help of an attorney, you can often avoid jail time. A good attorney will work to have charges dropped or at least downgraded to a lesser traffic violation. This can help you avoid the harsher penalties. They will discuss with you every detail of the reckless driving situation in order to create a compelling defense. If you or a loved one have been charged with reckless driving, contact New Jersey attorney Leon Matchin right away. Reach him by phone at 732-887-2479, or email him at [email protected].