Things You Should Not Ignore About Reckless Driving
Reckless driving is a typical traffic violation police ticket for in New Jersey, especially when a driver is drunk or high.
The police might first notice a driver by their dangerously erratic driving, say, speeding up to the car in front of them and then slamming on the brakes, causing the tires to smoke and the driver in front to panic. Then, when the police pull the car over, they may smell the alcohol or recognize the signs of impairment. In these cases, in addition to a DUI or DWI, a driver faces a reckless driving charge. But a reckless driving charge can happen in isolation, based on any type of driving behavior that places others in danger. These charges are penalized harshly, and must be taken seriously in order to avoid the devastating impacts on an individual’s life, finances, driver’s license, and more.
What Is Considered Reckless Driving in New Jersey?
Reckless driving is operating a vehicle dangerously without caring about others’ safety, rights, property, or lives (N.J.S.A. 39:4-96). If convicted for the first time, you not only get five points on your driver’s license, but you can go to jail for 60 days and pay fines of up to $200.00. In addition, you may lose your driving privileges for up to three months for excessively hazardous driving. For a second offense, you could spend three months in jail, pay up to $500.00 in fines, and lose your license for six months.
What Are Some Examples of Reckless Driving?
Adventure movies and thrillers often include the classic car chase: screeching tires, terrifying speeds, and two-wheeled turns. Part of the excitement of these scenes is the fantasy of such a chase. Unless you are in law enforcement, you probably never witness such a scene. But you may have seen someone speed up dangerously to pass you, even waving an angry fist at you in passing for some infraction or insult you committed on the road. And you might have heard of drivers who spin out, speed the wrong way down a one-way street or an exit ramp of a freeway. These all may be instances of reckless driving from the fictional to the real.
What is the Difference Between Careless Driving and Reckless Driving in New Jersey?
A milder version of reckless driving is careless driving (N.J.S.A. 39:4-97). The difference between reckless and careless is one of degree. In reckless driving, the definition includes “wanton disregard” of other people on the road, which indicates a cruel and malicious uncaring attitude toward others’ wellbeing. Careless driving is less malicious and more incautious. Both include the element of driving dangerously to cause others harm to their person or property. Thus, a driver who quickly swerves across three lanes of traffic to exit a freeway ramp or slams on their brakes to miss rear-ending the car in front of them are instances of negligent or careless driving. They may not have been paying attention and then tried to correct their mistake. Unlike reckless driving, the careless driver may not intend to endanger others by driving erratically.
What Are the Penalties for Reckless Driving in Union County, NJ?
Thus, the convicted careless driver faces two points on their record instead of five and $85.00 in fines instead of $200.00. If the offense occurred in a construction zone or a safe corridor, the penalty almost doubles at $140.00. Jail time is possible if the driver’s record has other infractions or license suspensions. But even with a clean driving record, the points add up and stay there until you drive violation-free for a year with no license suspensions. In addition, if you get six points in three years, you could pay a $150.00 fine, in addition to insurance premium hikes. Insurance companies may increase your auto insurance when you have points on your record. A total of 12 points leads to a license suspension.
In consideration of all the fines and premium hikes, plus the possibility of jail time or license suspension, you should strongly consider seeking the help of a reckless driving attorney to defend you against a reckless driving charge. A good attorney can assist you in getting the reckless driving charge dismissed or reduced by attacking the prosecutor’s case against you. The prosecutor must prove that you intentionally drove dangerously, risking the lives and property of others. Speeding or going through red lights, for example, do not necessarily rise to the level of reckless driving if no one was around when you drove through a red light or sped down a deserted highway at 2 a.m. The prosecutor must prove that you drove in such a manner that was above and beyond carelessness and negligence. In fact, intent to drive recklessly is often challenging to prove.
You not only save money beating a reckless driving ticket but possible incarceration. A judge has some discretion when sentencing you to jail time. For example, if you were speeding at 80 miles per hour through a crosswalk in a crowded downtown area and hit someone, badly injuring them, a judge may be more inclined to jail you to keep you off the road. You may also be charged with assault by auto, which carries additional prison time, In other words, the aggravating factors of your case may cause a judge to sentence you to the maximum the law allows. However, an attorney by your side may be able to cloudy the issue of whether you saw the pedestrian or intended to endanger others. In addition, they may be able to raise mitigating factors to soften the judge’s stance, such as pointing out that you stopped and helped the pedestrian or called 911.
Why Is It Important To Work With an Experienced NJ Traffic Attorney?
And if your attorney is not able to convince the prosecutor and judge to dismiss your case outright, they can strike a plea bargain with the prosecutor to save the state time and money in prosecuting you. Instead of reckless driving, you might agree to plead guilty to careless driving to avoid a trial and risk a harsh sentence. You have options if you have the proper representation. Do not believe that a traffic ticket is not worth the cost of hiring an attorney when you have so much to lose. A suspended license may not seem bad until you drive with it and get caught. You could get another six months’ license suspension and a $500.00 fine. Don’t risk the consequences. Get the help you need.
Schedule a consultation with Attorney Edward Cooper to go over your Reckless Driving Case and Options at our Union County office
If you are facing charges or have been given a court date to show up for a hearing, you need to contact a skilled traffic law attorney like Mr. Edward Cooper to assist you in your case. We have helped drivers across Union County in places like Elizabeth, Scotch Plains, Roselle Park, Westfield, Summit, Cranford, and Rahway.
At The Law Office of Edward. S Cooper, we know the process, and we can be by your side when you need specialized support.
Contact us at (908) 481-4625 to schedule an initial conversation with Mr. Cooper at our Linden office. He will explain how the process works and the steps to follow to reach a favorable resolution in your reckless driving case.